April Fools Day – Not just for kids!

bookI am posting this a bit early so my teacher-readers can create lesson plans.

April Fools Day celebrates pranks, hoaxes and silliness.  Many people believe it originated from a line in “Nun’s Priest’s Tale.”  This was the story of Chanticleer and the Fox in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (1392).  Readers misunderstood a line to mean “32nd of March.”  Chaucer’s poem was made into a book titled Chanticleer and the Fox, written and illustrated by Barbara Cooney.  Her book won the 1959 Caldecott Medal.

Some fun April Fools pranks from The Top 100 April Fool’s Day Hoaxes of All Time:

* In 1915, during World War I, a French aviator flew over a German camp and dropped what appeared to be a huge bomb. German soldiers immediately scattered, but no explosion followed. Finally, the soldiers gingerly approached the bomb, only to discover it was just a large football with a note tied to it: “April Fool!”

* The BBC announced that Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop in 1957; the show included  footage of Swiss peasants pulling strands of spaghetti down from trees.  BBC’s instructions for growing a spaghetti tree:  “place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.”

* In 1975, an Australian news program reported that the country would soon be converting to “metric time.” Under the new system there would be 100 seconds to the minute, 100 minutes to the hour, and 20-hour days.

* A newspaper story ran in London in 1981 about a Japanese long-distance runner who had entered the London Marathon but, on account of a translation error, thought that he had to run for 26 days, not 26 miles. The runner was reported somewhere out on the roads of England, still running, determined to finish the race; even though various people had spotted him, they were unable to flag him down.

* The April 1998 issue of the New Mexicans for Science and Reason newsletter contained an article claiming that the Alabama state legislature had voted to change the value of the mathematical constant pi from 3.14159 to the ‘Biblical value’ of 3.0.  This became an Internet sensation: the Alabama legislature soon began receiving hundreds of calls from people protesting the legislation.

April Fools Day is a perfect occasion to tell you more about my book,  Zapped!

Inventing Stan was easy…
making Stan behave is impossible!

Kyle, the new kid at Buckley Elementary School, invents an imaginary scapegoat to deflect the blame for a prank that goes wrong in class. How perfect — the kids can play pranks and never get into trouble!  When Stan takes on a life of his own, the kids get into more trouble than they ever imagined. The kids discover making Stan behave is impossible.
Children’s middle-grade fiction.
Audience: Ages 9-12.

Now for something real: On April 1, 2007, the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid book came out.

Comments Off on April Fools Day – Not just for kids!
Posted in Fun With Literacy,Holidays by Corey Green @ Mar 30, 2011


How to Help Your Substitute Teacher

Substitute teachers can have a rough job, but there are ways to make their lives better.  At the same time you help your sub, you help your students have a better learning environment during their beloved teacher’s (your) absence.

A current class roster:  As the year progresses, most teachers don’t think about their class rosters – they know every student without a list.  But subs don’t know your class, and if there’s an inaccurate roster in your sub files, the very first moments of the day can go badly.

Star students:  Leave a note that suggests which students your sub can call upon to get a good lesson going.  It shouldn’t be the same student for everything.  Name a few math whizzes, a couple of students who read aloud well…you get the idea.  That way, subs can call on students with confidence and the class will learn more.  Or at least learn the right things!

Comments Off on How to Help Your Substitute Teacher
Posted in Substitutes,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Mar 23, 2011


Teaching Multiplication Tables with Songs

bookBest Multiplication Songs EVER! can help children learn multiplication facts, but the songs are not a substitute for active teaching.  It’s best to combine multiplication songs with traditional teaching and learning methods. Suggestions include:

> Start with the easiest times tables first 
> Use visual aids
> Count on fingers
> Highlight the rhythm
> Make multiplication songs part of other routines

In my classroom, we sing songs during transitions: while lining up for lunch (and getting our hands clean with our squirt procedure).  We sing when we take out materials for our math lessons.  We sing when one of the students makes a connection to using a multiplication fact in everyday life.  I have heard my students singing in the bathroom, too!

I suggest using the songs in conjunction with other multiplication learning resources, such as Best Times Table Practice EVER!   This program lets students customize their practice.  Students can practice exactly what they need: just the twos, just the tens, only Level Three—you name it!  This program is great for memorizing basic facts.  For example, students can begin to memorize the sevens times table by practicing only seven times zero, one, ten and eleven—then add extra facts until they know them all.  Download this FREE software and practice any times table, anytime! 

Here are more tips about teaching times tables with songs.

Comments Off on Teaching Multiplication Tables with Songs
Posted in Academics by Corey Green @ Mar 18, 2011


FREE Software for Learning Addition

Best Addition Practice EVER!

Download this FREE software and practice your addition facts!  It’s customizable, so students can practice exactly what they need to improve.   It seems that we don’t teach our children to memorize like we did even a few years ago.  I had to memorize addition facts, as did my younger sister and brother.  Parents, too, but that was back in the Dark Ages! None of us were encouraged to use our fingers for adding. In fact, my parents developed novel ways for practicing addition skills. Their efforts led to the free software Abligio Books offers for teaching addition.

A child who memorizes facts makes neural connections in their brain.  Subsequent memorization tasks become easier as that file cabinet in the brain fills with knowledge.  Each success builds self-confidence and readiness for new challenges.

A student who masters both addition and multiplication will be ready to ace all of elementary school math. Memorizing should not be a dirty word in today’s educational environment — it’s the key to helping a child succeed in many future endeavors.

Addition ROCKS!

Comments Off on FREE Software for Learning Addition
Posted in Academics,FREE Worksheets,Math by Corey Green @ Mar 15, 2011


Math Learning Resources

I am celebrating the release of my newest educational product: Best Multiplication Workbook EVER!

The workbook is one of my award-winning math learning resources that help elementary students in primary grades learn times tables, master basic multiplication facts and practice addition facts.  These educational products are valuable resources for parents, elementary school classroom teachers and homeschoolers.

BEST MULTIPLICATION WORKBOOK EVER! focuses on kids: how they think, how they learn, what they like. The workbook is remedial for intermediate grades, including middle school math classes and junior high school math classes.
Order now!
Also available from Amazon.com.

BEST MULTIPLICATION SONGS EVER! teaches times tables with familiar tunes, in the same way students learn their A-B-Cs.  This CD is an award-winner: Dr. Toy’s 10 Best Educational Products Award and 100 Best Products of 2010.
Order now!

Students across the spectrum of educational institutions can achieve higher test scores with FREE software: BEST TIMES TABLES PRACTICE EVER! and BEST ADDITION PRACTICE EVER!
Here’s how to download.

I love making learning fun.  Mastering multiplication is the key to succeeding in elementary math courses…and beyond.  We should enjoy the process and so should our students!

Comments Off on Math Learning Resources
Posted in Academics,Math by Corey Green @ Mar 12, 2011


Best Multiplication Workbook EVER!

Best Multiplication Workbook EVER!Newly released: Best Multiplication Workbook EVER!
Order now!
Also available from Amazon.com.

I’m blowing my own horn: Best Multiplication Workbook EVER! is a great resource for teachers, parents, tutors and students.

This book is divided into levels, and everything is taught systematically.  The workbook pages are fun for kids to do, and the organizational system helps teachers, tutors and parents know how to guide kids.  If a child is having difficulty with a concept, the parent or teacher will know to go back a level and remediate before proceeding.

> Teachers can use the book for whole-class lessons or to teach small groups.  The scaffolded, leveled system makes it easy to manage many students working on different skills.
> Parents can buy the workbook for use at home.  Kids can do most of the work on their own.  The leveled system makes it easy for a parent or tutor to review a lesson—or teach the next step in acquiring new skills.
> Tutors can use the book to identify gaps in a child’s learning.  Simply proceed through the levels and slow down when a concept seems difficult.  The book lays out a great tutoring program for helping elementary school students.
> Home school parents will appreciate the comprehensive nature of the book, the word problems, and the scaffolded approach to learning.

The workbook contains 260 pages filled with worksheets for skill development, word problems, long multiplication mastery, standardized test practice questions and strategies — everything needed to succeed in learning to multiply.

A student who masters multiplication is ready to take on all the other mathematics challenges in elementary school!

Comments Off on Best Multiplication Workbook EVER!
Posted in Academics,Math by Corey Green @ Mar 10, 2011


Origami in the Classroom—Not All It’s Cracked Up to Be

You might think origami lessons are fun: a good way to teach spatial relationships and following directions.

If you think these things, you probably have not tried to teach origami to 30 elementary school children.

Teachers don’t like origami!  Teaching the lessons is difficult—students don’t pay attention, they don’t understand, and the lesson quickly devolves into one frantic teacher rushing to help 27 students at once.  (Three understood perfectly the first time.)

There’s another reason teachers dislike origami—paper-folding doesn’t stop after the lesson.  Students will make origami all year if you don’t develop and enforce a strong policy.  Your paper supply will be gone, and in its place you’ll find:

> Cootie catchers
> Claws (dozens and dozens of them!)
> Paper Airplanes
> Poppers
> Origami balloons
> And, or course paper cranes (You read Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, didn’t you?)

I learned this lesson from one of my fifth grade classes.  It started innocently enough, with two boys making origami claws.  The other students tried to warn me to ban all origami, and I should have listened.  I didn’t institute the ban until after finding that somehow, these boys had had cleared us out of Kleenex by creating dioramas inside their desks.  They had cute little scenes, with Kleenex props and origami figures.  What a mess!

…And that is why I highly recommend that you outlaw origami in your classroom.

Comments Off on Origami in the Classroom—Not All It’s Cracked Up to Be
Posted in Classroom Management,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Mar 4, 2011


Hurray for a new Maeve Binchy book!

bookToday is an exciting day—it’s the US release of Maeve Binchy’s newest book: Minding Frankie!

Maeve Binchy is my favorite writer for grownups.  Her books about everyday Irish life immerse you in a world that feels utterly real.  Maeve’s style is very slice-of-life, but by the end of each book, you will be shocked at how much has happened.

Binchy’s most famous books are Circle of Friends and Tara Road, both of which were made into movies.  (Read the books first.)  Circle of Friends is about college students in 1950s Dublin, focusing on two girls from a small Irish town, each unaware of their own families’ secrets and tragedies.  Tara Road is about two heartbroken women, one Irish and one American, who trade houses for the summer.  In both books, you know the characters’ friends and family for over a decade.  Peeking through those Irish lace curtains reveals some interesting hidden motives that drive irresistable page-turning plots.

What does this have to do with education?  I believe that reading Maeve Binchy’s books can teach you more about human nature than you could ever learn in a lifetime of just living.  Because Maeve Binchy uses third person omniscient point of view, you can delve into the hearts and minds of people you’d like to meet in real life.  Read enough of her books and you’ll start to predict the actions of the people in your life quite accurately.  Very useful for a teacher!  (Or anyone, really.)

Minding Frankie, Maeve Binchy’s newest book, continues a saga of books about two neighborhoods in Dublin: Tara Road and St. Jarlath’s Crescent.  It’s so interesting to see characters who starred in their own books figure as background characters in a new story.  It’s like being part of a village—an almost unimaginable experience for this Air Force brat!

All of Maeve Binchy’s books are wonderful, but my favorites are her modern books with interlacing characters.

Tara Road: two women trade houses for the summer

Evening Class: lives of students and staff intertwine in an evening Italian language class

Scarlet Feather: two likeable young people start a catering company—and discover that the food is the easy part!

Quentins: while facing a huge scandal, Ella Brady creates a documentary about Quentins, a restaurant that embodies the spirit (and social lives) of modern Dublin

Nights of Rain and Stars: (set in Greece—but some characters appear in Heart and Soul)

Heart and Soul: the dramatic lives of patients and staff at a heart clinic

Minding Frankie: a neighborhood cares for a baby

For a complete list of Maeve Binchy’s works, visit her website or her Amazon page.

Comments Off on Hurray for a new Maeve Binchy book!
Posted in Book Reviews by Corey Green @ Mar 1, 2011