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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Arithmetic Developed Daily

Sometimes you just know something is missing in your instructional day. I moved to a new state last year, so I am still adjusting to the new district's curriculum. We have a great math curriculum, but I couldn't shake the feeling that something was missing. Then it hit me. I remembered a program we did in my last district called Arithmetic Developed Daily (ADD Math). It only takes 5-7 minutes a day...it's a warm up. I didn't realize how good it really was until I no longer had it.

I Googled Arithmetic Developed Daily and found
the Grow Publications website. I was floored. I had no idea about all the other products they offer. Now that ADD math is running smoothly in my classroom, I have to share what I found.

My Discovery
My former district purchased the teachers manual with black line masters and made student booklets from that every year. It worked great. However, I found an even better resource...they have it all on a CD! You can print out the individual pages AND present it on the Smartboard or other interactive whiteboard. My students almost levitated when they saw it. Believe me, you haven't lived until you've seen second graders levitate! We don't have a Smartboard, so I put it on the computer and projected it onto the screen...they still loved it.

How We Use It
Here's what we do. I print out the copies ahead of time. Three lessons fit on one 8.5 x 11 paper. When students arrive in the morning, the copy is on their desk for them to complete. Once students finish it, they glue the copy into their math journal and join me for a quick review. I want to point out here that you can purchase small ADD math student booklets (which I will be doing next year) if you don't want to print out sheets.

Why it Works
ADD Math spirals content. It is important to go back and touch on things periodically to ensure transfer into long-term memory. That is what I see with ADD math.  Lessons include a skill review, a word problem of the day, math talk, concept corners, "Think About It!, and daily mental math. Grade levels 3 and above even have quizzes included. I like that the lessons include both basic math concepts and encourage deeper thought.

Where I Go From Here
They have the same products available for science, reading, writing, and social studies. I'm going to try the science next and I'll post how that works out. After that I'm sure I will venture into the other subject areas as well. From what I have seen so far, these are excellent daily warm ups with a brain-based spiraling approach. I can't wait to share more!

If you want to check out these products, go to Grow Publications at http://www.growpub.com/ 

Monday, February 20, 2012

How One Teacher Changed a Life

English: Otay Ranch Town Center mall in Chula ...
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One comment can change a person’s life. That is powerful. As teachers it is important to understand the power of our words and our ability to affect a positive change in the lives of our students, as the following story will attest.

It was a warm spring day in the Chula Vista, CA classroom. She sat towards the back of her class at Castle Park Junior High in hopes of being overlooked by her teacher, Mr. Rose. A faint breeze provided by the open door offered little but the promise of a freedom still 10 minutes away. She finished addressing
the envelope she had been assigned, and shifted uncomfortably in her wooden seat. A quick glance at the clock told her there were still eight minutes left to freedom.  There was a brief murmuring and shuffling of paper as students passed their envelopes to the front of each row. Mr. Rose began his familiar routine of collecting the work, his chalky fingers gingerly grabbing each set of envelopes and pausing to inspect each one. The girl felt her breath catch in her throat as the teacher began pointing out that most of the envelopes were incorrect.  He began handing them back to students asking irritably why ninth graders couldn't properly address envelopes.  She began to panic and her heart pounded furiously in her chest. She was terrified of being singled out in class.  She quickly rationalized that her envelope couldn't be wrong...she wrote letters to her mother all the time...she had lots of practice. Then it happened…the life changer… Mr. Rose stopped at her desk, leaned over, and said in a kind and sincere voice, "You are smart. I expect more out of you than this." 

Her world screeched to a halt in that moment.  No one had ever told her she was smart. Instead she was regularly told that she was the 'pretty' one...her sister was the 'smart' one. The same adult who made that pronouncement was sure to drive the point home in other ways. "Poor Dear...your mother didn't want you. She always favored your sister anyway, she would say you were dumb but your sister was smart as a whip."  So this middle school girl rationalized away her teacher’s comment.  Surely Mr. Rose had been mistaken...he just didn't know the truth about her. She didn't even hear the bell ring.

A seed had been planted that day by Mr. Rose. Halfway through her tenth grade year, she decided to test his theory and tried for straight A's. She ended up with all A's and one B (in typing of all things). She was floored to discover that Mr. Rose might just have known something about her after all. It gave her confidence to keep going. She ultimately became a teacher herself and earned her masters degree.

That 9th grade girl with no self-confidence was me. If Mr. Rose had never made his passing comment to me, I probably would have continued to believe I was intellectually lacking. It still took many years to overcome my negative upbringing, but I did.

So please, never make any assumptions that a child who is not working for you is lazy or not worth prodding. They might just genuinely believe themselves to be incapable and decide to not even try. Plant seeds in their minds to let them know they ARE capable. The result might not be today or tomorrow...it might not be for a year or more...but seeds can and do grow. Plant positive seeds early and often for all of your students.  It can be a powerful gift. Thank you Mr. Rose.
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