## Friday, December 20, 2013

### Friday Fun Fact - All About Feathers

Birds are the only animals with feathers. Feathers are important for flight, camouflage, mating, regulation of body temperature, and more. They come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. Different types of feathers have different functions. But where did they come from? Check out the video below for some answers.

## Saturday, December 14, 2013

### Why Do We Learn Mathematics? - Calculation, Application, and Inspiration

I love this TED Talk by Arthur Benjamin on The Magic of Fibonacci Numbers. I particularly like the introduction. Here's how it begins.
"So why do we learn mathematics? Essentially, for three reasons: calculation, application, and last, and unfortunately least in terms of the time we give it, inspiration.
Mathematics is the science of patterns, and we study it to learn how to think logically, critically and creatively, but too much of the mathematics that we learn in school is not effectively motivated, and when our students ask, "Why are we learning this?" then they often hear that they'll need it in an upcoming math class or on a future test. But wouldn't it be great if every once in a while we did mathematics simply because it was fun or beautiful or because it excited the mind?"
I've been a puzzle-solver and game player for as long as I can remember. I love to do math for fun. I wish more teachers saw the value of puzzling through non-traditional problems and the long-term benefits it brings.

## Thursday, December 12, 2013

### Friday Fun Fact - Inspiration From Nature

Have you ever thought about some of the amazing things in our lives that were inspired by nature? If you aren't sure what I'm talking about, think about velcro, adhesives, medical tape, synthetic shark skin, the bullet train, and much more.

Here's a cool video from the Smithsonian magazine on how biomimcry is inspiring human innovation.

If you are interested in exploring more about how nature inspires scientific innovation and invention, check out these two books.
Nature Got There First, by Phil Gates
In this book Gates shows readers earn how much of human technology was inspired by, or copied directly from nature. Packed with information, this one is good for older students.

Nature Did It First, by Susan Goodman
This book for young students includes a series of photgraphic puzzles where readers must look at a photo of a human invention and try to guess how it was inspired by nature.

## Monday, December 9, 2013

### Monday Math Freebie - Arctic Animal Races

Towards the end of the semester my students and I spent some time on probability and data analysis. I made a set of spinner activities to look at the notion of fair and unfair. They were pretty boring and focused on color, so I decided to dress them up and create a lesson and resources using Arctic animals.

In this set of activities, students:
• experiment with fair and unfair spinners
• tally and record the results of their spins
• graph the results of their experiments
• determine what makes a spinner fair or unfair

Probability does not appear in the Common Core standards until middle school. However, students can still use probability activities to collect and analyze data. With this in mind, these activities can be used to meet the following Common Core Standards for Math.
• 1.MD.C.4 Organize, represent, and interpret data with up to three categories; ask and answer questions about the total number of data points, how many in each category, and how many more or less are in one category than in another.
• 2.MD.D.10 Draw a picture graph and a bar graph (with single-unit scale) to represent a data set with up to four categories. Solve simple put-together, take-apart, and compare problems1 using information presented in a bar graph.
• 3.MD.B.3 Draw a scaled picture graph and a scaled bar graph to represent a data set with several categories. Solve one- and two-step “how many more” and “how many less” problems using information presented in scaled bar graphs. For example, draw a bar graph in which each square in the bar graph might represent 5 pets.

Here's what the packet and resources look like.

I hope you get a chance to use this activity in your home or classroom. Please let me know if you try it and how you like it!

## Monday, November 25, 2013

### Monday Math Freebie - Geometry Vocabulary Puzzle

I've been playing around with Formulator Tarsia, "a tool for creating activities in a form of jigsaws or dominos for later use in a class." Sadly, this free software only works on a PC, so I used Wineskin to convert the program to an app that would run on a Mac. It's a bit glitchy (at times), but now I have VMware Fusion, a program that allows you to run Windows on a Mac. I don't use it often, but it's been great for playing around with Tarsia.

This is a very long introduction to say that I am working on a series of puzzles for math. The first is a triangle shaped puzzle to review geometry vocabulary. Simply laminate and cut the large triangles apart. Students try to assemble the 16 pieces into a large triangle. Students should notice that the three corner pieces have writing on only 1 edge. The side pieces have writing along 2 edges, while the interior pieces have writing along all three edges.

Here's what the pieces and completed puzzle look like.

I hope you get a chance to use this puzzle in your home or classroom. Please let me know if you try it and how you like it!

**BTW, as of this writing I am only 12 followers away from 20,000 on Pinterest! Check out this post to learn more about my boards (all 230 devoted to teaching) and to enter a giveaway for some free books!

## Tuesday, November 19, 2013

### My Pinterest and 20,000 Follower Giveaway!

As I watch the numbers move up towards 20,000 followers, I thought this might be a good time to explain a bit about my Pinterest site and how it's organized.

I started pinning in January of 2012 thinking it might be a good way to organize teaching resources, never realizing just how much it would grow. As someone who had her first web site in 1995 (yes, you read that correctly), the evolution of technology and web applications has been pretty impressive to watch. I can tell you that I don't miss writing everything in HTML, though that knowledge does still come in handy when blogging.

Just a few short months  after I began pinning, I realized it was going to be a far more useful tool than the Weebly and Google sites I had created for my classes. The visual nature of Pinterest makes it so much more appealing than reading some words and clicking on a hyperlink.  Right away folks can see something of interest and check it out. You will find that I do try hard to write a brief summary description to describe each pin.

My Pinterest is organized in sections, with general teaching resources first, then math, science, and social studies. There are currently 230 boards, but I'm sure that will change. As boards grow too large, I split them into smaller sections. For example, in math I had a single board for addition and subtraction. It grew to more than 400 pins, which made it hard to find useful resources. Now you'll find a board for fact families, basic facts, multi-digit addition and subtraction, doubles and doubles +1 facts, ways to make 5 and 10, word problems, and more. These smaller, more focused boards make it easier to find just what you want.

I try to maintain the boards to delete duplicates or pins with dead links, and to remove items that must be purchased. For a number of reasons I've made a conscious choice to only feature free resources on these boards. In large part this decision was made because I work with preservice teachers and those new to the profession. If you remember your early years of teaching, you'll will remember walking into a classroom with almost no materials of your own. I want new teachers to head into their classrooms with a wealth of resources without breaking the bank. I also know that by introducing them to the many great teachers out there creating amazing materials and sharing ideas that these new teachers will eventually check out and consider everything that's available, including items for sale.

Now that you know a bit about how I've organized and why, here's what you'll find. (Links to each board coming soon!)

Section 1 - General Teaching Boards
General Ideas/Resources | Class Procedures/Management | Classroom Economy/Student Jobs | Class Tools/Organization | Creative Tools/DIY | Fonts | Technology/21st Century Skills | Differentiation | Activate Prior Knowledge | Check For Understanding | Exit Slips | Discussion/Accountable Talk | Group/Partner Work | Depth and Complexity | Informational Text | Vocabulary (General) | Foldables/Graphic Organizers | Infographics/Visual Literacy | Anchor Charts (General)

Section 2 - Math Boards
Common Core Math | Mathematical Practice Standards | Be a Mathematician | Math Talk | Math Learning/Reflection | Math Teaching/Instruction | Math Workshop/Guided Math | Organizing Math | DIY Manipulatives | Math and Literature | Math Notebooks | Math Journal Prompts | Math Mini-Offices | Math Reference/Help Pages | Math Vocab/Word Wall | Visual Math | Math Differentiation | Math Assessment | Word Problems/Problem Solving | Number of the Day/Week | Math Stretches/Daily Work/RAP | Assorted Math Resources | Card/Dice/Domino Math | Calendar Math | Calendar Numbers/Labels | Number/Counting Cards | Number Order/Sequencing | Writing/Representing Numbers | Subitizing | Counting | Tally Marks | Skip Counting | Ordinal Numbers | Number Lines | Ten Frames | Numicon | Rekenrek | 100 Boards/120 Charts

Estimation (Quantitative) | Number Sense | Place Value | Big Numbers | Other Numeration Systems | Comparing Numbers (>,<,=) | Even/Odd Numbers | Part-Part-Whole/Number Bonds | Make 5/Make 10 | Fact Family Forms/Models | Addition/Subtraction - Basic Facts | Addition - Doubles/Near Doubles | Addition - 3 (or more) Addends | Addition/Subtraction - Multi-Digit | Addition/Subtraction Word Problems | Multiplication/Division - Basic Facts | Multiplication/Division - Multi-Digit | Multiplication/Division Word Problems | Factors/Multiples & Prime/Composite | Mixed Operations (+,-,x,÷) | Rounding/Estimation (Computational) | Integers | Exponents/Scientific Notation | Mental Math | Algebraic Thinking/Functions | Order of Operations | Fractions - Models/Concepts | Fractions - Operations | Decimals | Fractions/Decimals/Percents | Ratio/Proportion

Analog/Digital Time | Duration/Elapsed Time | Money | Probability | Glyphs | Graphing/Data Collection | Data Analysis | Coordinate Graphing | Nonstandard Measurement | Measurement - Length | Measurement - Weight/Mass | Measurement - Capacity | Measurement - Temperature | Area/Perimeter/Volume | Measurement - Assorted | Metric System | Positional Terms | Geometry Vocab/Posters | 2D/3D Shapes | Symmetry | Geometric Transformations | Lines and Angles | Circle Measures/Pi | Tangrams | Pentominoes | Shape Puzzles/Mazes | Patterns | Sorting/Classification (Math) | Math Strategy/Thinking Games | Number/Logic Puzzles | Number Puzzles - Sudoku | Number Puzzles - KenKen | 100th Day Ideas | Seasonal Math - Fall | Holiday Math - Halloween/Pumpkins | Holiday Math - Thanksgiving | Seasonal Math - Winter | Winter Math - Snowmen | Winter Math - Penguins | Holiday Math - Xmas/Hanukkah/NewYear | Holiday Math - Groundhog/Presidents Day | Holiday Math - Valentines Day | Holiday Math - St. Patricks Day | Holiday Math - Easter | Seasonal Math - Spring | Holiday Math - Cinco de Mayo/Memorial Day | Seasonal Math - Summer | Math - Blogs | Math and Home | Math Humor | iPad Apps Math | Interactive Math Resources

PHEW! As you can see, math is by far the biggest section at over 6000 pins!

Section 3 - Science
Science Teaching | Science Differentiation | Science Assessment | Science and Literature | Science Notebooks/Journals | Science Vocab/Word Wall | Engineering | Be a Scientist | George Washington Carver | Nature of Science | Science Safety/Group Work | Science Methods/Research | Process Skills/Science Tools | Science Fair | Five Senses | Assorted Science Experiments | Classification/Dichotomous Key | Living/Nonliving Things | Cells/Osmosis | Plants/Seeds | Fall Science - Pumpkins/Apples/Leaves | School Gardens | Nature/Outdoor Activities | Earth Day Activities | Animals | Animal Life Cycles | Butterflies/Insects | Birds | Owls/Owl Pellets | Hibernation/Migration | Habitats/Ecosystems/Biomes | Food Chains/Webs | Genetics/Evolution | Matter | Periodic Table | Nanotechnology | Heat/Temperature | Energy | Energy Sources/Fuels | Sinking/Floating | Forces and Motion | Simple Machines | Flight/Aerodynamics | Magnets | Electricity | Light and Shadow | Sound | Oceans | Water/Water Cycle | Weather/Earth's Atmosphere | Climate Change | Rocks/Minerals/Soil | Fossils/Geologic Time | Weathering/Erosion | Earth/EQuakes/Volcanoes | Natural Disasters/Severe Weather | Resources/Conservation/3Rs | Earth/Sun/Seasons | Moon | Stars/Planets/Solar System | Winter Science | iPad Apps Science

Section 4 - Social Studies
Social Studies Teaching | Social Studies Notebooks | Social Studies Vocab | Social Studies and Literature | Historical Thinking | Primary Sources | Current Events | Geography/Maps | Landforms | 50 States/US Regions | Community Helpers | Economics | Documents of America | Government | American Symbols/Holidays | Pledge of Allegiance | Historical Figures | Past/Present | Native Americans | Explorers | Jamestown | Plymouth Colony | Colonization | American Revolution | Civil War | Virginia - Past and Present | Ancient Civilizations - Greece/Rome | Ancient Civilization - China/Egypt

I just added the social studies section this summer, so you can see that there are many topics left to be added here!

If you've stuck with me all this way, congratulations! Now we get to the good part. In honor of reaching 20,000 followers (any day now!), I'm giving away 4 books representing each section of my Pinterest to ONE lucky winner. Here are the books.

That's it! You have just under one week to enter. Good luck!

## Monday, November 18, 2013

### Closing in on 20,000 Followers!

Here's a look at my Pinterest page today.
Right now at 9:51 pm on Monday, November 18th, I am 102 followers away from 20,000! This is really unbelievable.

In February, after just 13 months of pinning, I had 135 boards and 10,000 followers. Today, just under 9 months later, I have 230 boards and am close to another milestone.

I think this one deserves a bit of celebration and some free stuff. Since my boards focus solely on teaching, I'll be giving away some books on math, science, social studies, and general instructional practices. I may throw in a few other goodies as well.

I'm heading home from class now, but I'll be back tomorrow with all the details. Stay tuned!

### Monday Math Freebie - Fall-Themed Addition Games

I created two new addition games this weekend by putting a twist on some old favorites for practicing multiplication. Those games, and a few others with a fall theme can be found in this addition packet.

Here's what the games look like.

I hope you get a chance to use these in your home or classroom. Please let me know if you try these and how you like them!

## Friday, November 8, 2013

### My Classroom - Organizing Math

Several folks have asked me to describe my classroom. Since I share a space with other faculty members, I don't have a dedicated classroom, though the University added cabinets for me last summer so that I wouldn't have to drag all my materials up and down the stairs or from the closet down the hall.

I spend about an hour each afternoon pulling materials and setting up for my class. Here's what the room looked like this week as I set up for class. This session was focused on fractions and decimals.
Students sit in groups of 4 and work throughout the 3-hour session in the whole group and with their table partner. The classroom can hold 20 students, but it's really crowded at capacity. I move around a lot, and a full class makes this nearly impossible. Right now I have a very manageable class of 14.

I come to class each week with a bag or box of books. I start by putting children's literature titles related to the topic around the room. Then I open the cabinets and pull out boxes of manipulatives, game sets, art/supply boxes, and more. I put a class agenda at each seat and set out materials for each group/pair. Sometimes they have paper manipulatives to cut out. The art/supply boxes contain scissors, glue sticks, highlighters, rulers, colored pencils, crayons, tape, and more. Just about anything they might need for interactive notebooks is in here.

The game sets contain an assortment of dice (traditional, pattern block, fraction, 10-sided, 4-sided, etc.), transparent spinners, a deck of cards, and 2-colors of transparent chips (30 each). These great little containers are from the Dollar Tree. Each pair gets one of these boxes.

I also use these containers for base-10 blocks. Each box contains 20 tens, 5 hundreds, and 100 ones.
(The amazing Janaye of Tales of Frogs and Cupcakes shared this idea back in March of 2012 in a post on math manipulative storage and I ran with it!)

Here's what the tables looked like just before the students arrived. There was one set of pattern blocks and an art/supply box per table group. For each pair there was a game set, base-10 blocks, fraction circles, and fraction strips.

Students pick up any handouts and additional materials from the storage countertop.

Here's what you'll find inside those cabinets.

You'll notice that while it's easy to find things, these containers are woefully lacking in labels! Those round containers you see are also from the Dollar Tree. Here's what they hold.
This particular set of Cuisenaire rods is missing the dark green rod (#6)!  I do like these containers, though they they take up more storage space than the divided rectangular containers. (Hey, when you shop at the Dollar Tree you take what you can get, and you never know what will be in stock!)

I also recycle containers from home, including milk jugs, rice jars, peanut butter jars (only after putting through the dishwasher at least 3 times), tea tins, and more. Here's how I store my collection of foam beads (from Oriental Trading).
And here's how I store all my extra colored pencils. This idea came from Pinterest (where else?)!

So that's it for my math materials and a bit about how I organize and set up. My apologies for some of the fuzzy pictures.

If you are looking for even more ideas you can find a wealth of them (and free manipulative labels!) from teachers far more ingenious than me on my Organizing Math board.

How do you organize your math materials, at home or in your classroom? If you have a new or tired-and-true idea, please share it!

## Tuesday, November 5, 2013

### 101 Objects That Made America

Have you seen the new issue of Smithsonian Magazine highlighting 101 objects from the collection that tell the story of America. How exactly does one select only 101 objects from a collection of 137 MILLION artifacts held by the 19 museums and research centers of the Smithsonian Institution?

The objects in this list have been placed into a number of categories, including Discovery, Voice, Invention, Freedom, and more.

As I've been thinking about using primary sources in instruction, I found myself fascinated by this object.
This is only one of 32 surviving pieces of proof of the Stamp Act.

## Sunday, November 3, 2013

### The Determination of a Mouse

If this doesn't make you smile, nothing will.

## Friday, November 1, 2013

### Get a Celebrate Birds Kit!

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is teaming up with Walmart and Pennington® Wild Bird Food brand to distribute free kits to 2,500 teachers across the country through their brand new Adopt-A-School program. This kit provides a classroom with a bird feeder to put on their classroom window, as well as bird seed, kids’ binoculars, fun classroom activities, and the chance to win a mini-grant that will help the schools hold a Celebrate Birds event!