Tuesday, August 31, 2010

50 States

Many kids will be required to memorize the 50 states and capitals. Here is a great video and song to help. I taught this to a group of 5th graders and most passed the test. It was so funny. You could hear them singing it to themselves quietly as they took the test. You can also find this video on Youtube.

Timed Tests

When I taught I always had kids that would freeze when they had to take a math time test. I knew they could do it, they just needed more time to process the information. I am going through this with my own little boy right now. When I turn the timer on to encourage him get something done faster, he gets VERY mad and upset. I still do it because he needs to learn to complete a task in a timely matter.
Why do we time kids?
Kids are timed to make sure they know things automatically. They are times for math facts, readings, and eventually tests like the ACT and SAT.
How can we help?
The best way to help a child is to give them practice at home. Sometimes with them knowing and sometimes without them knowing. Practice every day. You can also do it with non-educational things like chores.
  • One technique I like to use is to ask them how long they think it will take them to complete a task. Then set the timer in a place where they can't see it so it's not a distraction. Then time them. If they don't get all the way through it. Try a couple more times. Set the timer so they can complete in the allotted time so they can build their confidence. Then slowly lower the amount of time so they can progress.
  • Another idea is to have them beat you. Let them win a few times but keep going faster so it's a challenge. Kids like a challenge, and they love to beat their parents or older siblings.
When they get discouraged and ask that wonderful question we all love to hear "Why do I have to know this?" Remind them that they will look silly as an adult using their fingers to add in the grocery store or when they need to count up a score in a game. Real life applications help with the "Why" question.
If you have any other ideas or ways that helped your kids feel free to share.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

"The List"

Well School has begun and it's time to get all the things on those back to school lists. A "Free" education is non-existant today. Teachers are spending much of their own money to keep their classroom running. There is so much technology, so many resources, but no funds to purchase these items. Please be kind to teachers and donate throughout the year. They are under paid for what they do. I would know I am/was a teacher. I have taught second grade for 3 years and before that I worked with disadvantaged kids in an after school program for about 6 years. I have seen what teachers need and how much they put into their classroom. I have been there. I have spent hundreds of dollars on my own classroom. I have also had some amazing parents volunteer to bring in anything that they noticed I needed or things they thought I could use. If parents and teachers work together we can give our kids the education they need to be successful in life. Here is a list of things teachers need throughout the year. It's also great if parents, or anyone can volunteer some time in the classroom, or at home. I loved it when a parent would come up and take a stack of papers home to correct. A little bit of help goes a long way.

The List
Games - for rainy day or educating I used games to teach many concepts. It helps kids remember what they have learned and it makes them want to learn more because it's fun.
Curriculum supplies examples magnets, animal pictures bulletin board supplies talk to the teacher about what they need or look at your states curriculum to know where to start.

Year long needs

Paper towels
Hand sanitizer
Ziplock bags - I used gallon and sandwich, sometimes even snack size was handy
Science experiment supplies (talk to the teacher)
PENCILS, PENCILS, PENCIlS - somehow they always disappear, and there are never enough
Paper- white and colored
Dry erase markers

Be aware of other classroom needs. These are the basics that any teacher will need, others will need more. Ask the teacher what they need frequently throughout the year and be aware of items they need for parties and rewards.
If you are able it is nice to volunteer extra supplies for kids who can't afford to purchase these items.