Helping Kids Like Math

board-935455_960_720Kids today are digital natives. They learn different. Kids don’t like math. Really? Where is this coming from? Kids love math. Let them master their number sense and watch them treat it like a game. There is enthusiasm in the class during math. So, what is the problem with math? There is no problem with math. We have a problem with bad curriculum. We have a problem with Common Core standards that are developmentally inappropriate, especially for primary grades. We have a problem with a foreign company, Pearson, that provides kids with tests designed for failure. So, no we don’t have a problem with math. Students enjoy elementary math.
What they don’t enjoy is reading. As years go by, the vocabulary becomes more domain specific and increases in difficulty. This coincides with students reading less as they go from upper elementary, middle and high school. Reading is a huge part of math. If students cannot understand what they question is asking them due to dense vocabulary, they struggle with math, no matter how well they did in early elementary.

Reading comprehension effects all academic subjects. If a child struggles in reading, the odds of them graduating high school are very low. Reading is a skill developed throughout all schooling and life. What is different with this generation is that they are tasked with deciphering numerous reading formats, which makes reading comprehension skills more important then ever. Yet, today’s students spend less time reading than previous generation.

If we want to help kids like math, science or social studies, we have to help them become better readers. Reading promotes critical thinking, problem solving, and deep learning. All of which translates into math success in middle and high school.

 

Best Picture Books – Primary Classroom

1st grade super readsFirst Grade – First Rate Picture Books

Teaching with picture books in primary grades is one of the most enjoyable ways to teach reading, writing, character building, problem solving, while getting to know your little guys. Here are some of our favorites!

 

 

 

 

Unknown1. Penny and Her Marble – by Kevin Henkes

Everyone loves Penny. She has a real moral dilemma in this story. Should she do the right thing or not? Along with standard main idea, story sequencing, writing activity, and predicting, students debate the right and wrong of the story conflict.

 

penny

511qt3k12aL2. What If Everybody Did That? by Ellen Javernick

This book is a best seller and a perfect read throughout the year. The story takes kids through a series of scenarios and discusses consequences of our actions. Students in primary grades are keen observers of their surrounding and are ready to analyze cause and effect in fiction and their own life. After reading “What If Everybody Did That?” students are able to gain better understanding of rules that seemed unreasonable or needless before.

81N0hXbytIL3. Ruby’s Wish – by Shirin Yim Bridges

A story of perseverance and goal setting. Amazing character building book.

Ruby's Wish

The_Story_of_Ferdinand4. “The Story of Ferdinand

Everyone wanted Ferdinand to be something he is not. This timeless story teaches kids to be who they are.

 

 

51gLVpZZyrL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_5. “The Three Little Pigs Count to 100”

A beloved fairy tale told in a creative way that not only tells the story but teaches math and reading comprehension at the same time.

 

 

51JcSxw0L3L6. The Empty Pot – another beloved classic
Lesson – Tell the truth and things will work out. Perfect character building book.

 

 

51j3FlqSA9L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_7. The Invisible Boy – by Trudy Ludwig

Every class has an invisible boy. This wonderful book teaches acceptance and inclusion.

 

 

purple-plastic-purse8. “Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse” – Kevin Henkes

Lilly is hilarious. She will have kids laugh and relate all throughout. She loves school until she doesn’t. Henkes masterfully describes a life of a primary age students.

9919. The Giving Tree – by Silverstein

In “The Giving Tree” the tree selflessly gives everything away, until there is nothing to give. Another amazing character book on making better choices.

 

Unknown-110. Papa, Please Get the Moon For Me” – This interactive book intertwines science and language arts. STEM activity included in the lesson plan below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Florida Hands Over $4.47 Billion/year to Foreign Curriculum Company

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“Pearson is said to control 80 percent of the public school curriculum in the U.S. and claims to be the global leader. Pearson PLC’s yearly revenues reported in August 2016 said to be as large as $4.47 billion. Of greatest concern is that Pearson is a multinational corporation based in England. It has its primary listing on the British stock exchange and a secondary listing on the NYSE.”

continue reading 

 

Earth Day Lesson Plans

Earth Day and Spring perfectly overlap, and students greatly enjoy science resource texts. Stories are the best possible way to teach science to students of all ages. Despite the assumptions, a huge amount of science learning is integrated with language arts, at least by the great ones. Earth Day offers an ideal opportunity to teach and discuss how human actions effect the environment. Even though all the present hype with STEM tagets hands-on, there is no learning without actual reading for both background knowledge and additional research. Here are some awesome Earth Day books and lesson plans to go along:

thelorax1. “The Lorax by Dr. Suess is a must read for primary grades. Kids love Dr. Suess books, activities, movies, anything. Perfect Earth Day read and lesson.

 

 

 

 

thegivingtree2. The Giving Tree – Grades K-2 

“The Giving Tree” is a well loved book, for reasons that escape those with reason. It is not a story of giving and how wonderful it is to give. It’s a story about a boy who takes everything until there is nothing left. The message of non-renewable resources and importance of sustainability doesn’t escape. Super read on how not to be.

 

 

heroes3. Heroes of the Environment – Upper Grades – Free Lesson Plan on TpT (Earth Day Lesson Plan Giveaway)  This is a great guided reading non-fiction common core text for students in older grades – upper elementary and middle school.
Happy Teaching! 

 

 

 

4. World Without Fish – lesson plan – Earth Day Non-Fiction Text

demoWorldWithoutFishLPGrades6120055858001378747373

 

5. Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam and Science of Ocean Motion– Non-Fiction Science Resource Text Lesson Plan

61LtRBWv2ALdemoTrackingTrashFlotsamJetsamandScienceofOceanMotion0099913001368847320

Florida Teachers Testing Fiasco

teacher-1280966_960_720Florida Teachers Failing General Knowledge Exam; How?

You don’t have to look for the “Weird Florida” guide at Books-a-Million to hear something super messed up about Florida on daily basis. Here is one. Florida Department of Education has hired the super over-paid Pearson (read: over $200 million contract; British curriculum company) to create teacher examination tests. Now we all know how good Person is at making tests. Just look at kids’ test scores, the wording of their exams and the strange 5 answer questions. You have to see it to believe it. Pearson not only speaks foreign language to our students, but now they have succeeded to design a General Knowledge Test that has a teacher passing rate of 58%. Wow. How?

test graph

Out of teachers that took the general knowledge math exam, 6027 of them failed. How  can this test be a valid assessment tool with such low passing rate. Again, all takers are university graduates.

How is Florida Teacher Exam having a lower passing rate than the Bar Exam?
How? How are teachers like Kaitlyn Frank, graduates of the University of South Florida failing these tests? The University of South Florida is one of the best state schools. Their education department is excellent. How is it that their graduate cannot pass a General Knowledge Test?
How can a 13 year teacher veteran not be able to pass the General Knowledge Exam?

What kind of general knowledge are we testing that a university graduate and/or cannot pass?
Now none of this makes sense, except it does. All people who are familiar with the Florida Department of Education and Pearson testing know that they make $200 per every exam and retake. That is a lot of extra money for retakes. If you want to view your test, you have to pay them on average $100 to do so. Just like Pearson is paid on average $50.00 for every test Florida student takes, they are paid for retakes and hold backs. Sadly, all your answers are: money.

If the General Knowledge Test requires teachers to pass all 4 sections to keep their certification, and one of the sections has a failing rate of 43%, then 43% of all teachers that need this exam are unable to keep their job. It took one teacher six times to pass a test. Dear God. That is $1200,00 just to keep working. Not sure if she passed.

Anyhow, Florida doesn’t treat their teachers any better than students. Eh, it is just money.
Got to love it.

If 43% of university graduates are failing Pearson’s General Knowledge Test, then we have to look at the test. As a curriculum writer, I can design a test that will ensure lower passing rates. How? I can write questions in a very confusing manner, as our British friends, and then not allow the test takers to view their results. Also, my questions do not have to be general knowledge, all I have to do is call them that. It’s easy. It would be unethical and it would work against American students and their teachers, but Person will make a lot of money. While the Florida Department of Education will surely not do anything at all.

P.S. – Most of Florida teachers were educated out of state.
Read:
http://www.abcactionnews.com/longform/florida-teachers-failing-frustrated-teacher-test-scores-not-improving-new-state-numbers-show

Mrs. Lena, M.Ed.

Florida Threatens to Hold Students Who Opt Out

palm-tree-2095813_960_720Two Florida school districts–Sarasota and Manatee–have warned parents their children will not be promoted if they opt out of state testing. The only way to opt out of the state test is to take a state test before opting out. Alice in Wonderland? Even students who have earned high marks all year will […]

via Florida: School Districts Threaten to Hold Back Students Who Opt Out — Diane Ravitch’s blog

Florida educational policy and school system both put great effort into making sure that they fail an enormous number of students. Starting with 3rd grade end of the year reading test mandatory retention, automatic promotion of ELL students regardless of their readiness to master current year’s curriculum, or the lack of actual special education intervention. What most parents do? Most parents pull kids out of their local public school and place them in charter schools, where if they fail the reading test, the school substitutes a “portfolio” of work to justify promotion into 4th grade. Nonetheless, schools do very little to help kids who fail the 3rd grade reading test catch up. The same students still have reading trouble in 5th grade, 8th grade, 10th grade, … English language learners can fail every test and be promoted to the next grade since they are ELL. This gives everyone a pass to put their hands up in defeat; parents, teachers, and students. What happens to ELL students in our county, they eventually (middle school) drop out. Kids who receive special education services have to show the smallest progress to actually receive any services. None of these services are actually serious. They are insufficient in depth or scope to help students catch up. To add to this misery, most schools have minimal electives and no recess. A formula that makes every student and teacher completely miserable. Florida education is an oxymoron.

Grade: Unsatisfactory

Lena, M.Ed.

 

Dental Health – STEM Activities

demoDentalHealthAcidityScienceLessonStations3064140Dental Health Month – STEM Lesson Pack

This past February we celebrated the National Children’s Dental Health Month with a series of STEM activities and challenges.

We don’t teach enough about dental health or health in general. Even though we need to do a better job, teaching and being examples. During our dental health check up week, it was shocking to find out that a large number of students had excessive number of cavities, especially for their young age.

Dental problems can lead to numerous other health problems, yet the prohibitive cost and the lack of information contributes to the growing problem.

Our STEM activities looked at relationship between acidity of every day foods/drinks and dental health.

For the Acidity & Dental Health STEM click here!