## Monday, November 25, 2013

### Collaborative Cooking Project to Teach Doubling & Halving

Last week all of the students from Year 1 (Kindergarten) through Year 6 (5th grade) worked on doubling and halving in math.  The Year 1 and Year 2 students worked on doubling and halving the numbers from 1 – 10.  The Year 3 – Year 5 students worked on doubling and halving larger numbers (2 – 4 digit numbers).  Year 6 worked on doubling and halving decimals and fractions.  On Friday, we combined all three classes and spent two hours cooking doubled recipes.  The students worked in multiage groups of 4 or 5 students.

First, the kids had to take there recipes and find the amounts needed for half a recipe and for double a recipe.  Each group had a different recipe.  Our recipes included – Orange Smoothie, Homemade Playdough, Ice Cream in a Bag, Chocolate Peanut Butter Bark, Jell-O and Vanilla Cakes.  Feel free to download our recipes sheets from Google Docs.

Then, the students had to go through the steps of creating their recipes.  Although we had three teachers around to help, most of the groups were able to follow the recipes autonomously, generally led by their Year 6 students.

Each of the recipes finished at different times, so those students who finished early – or who had a long amount of time waiting during a step in their recipe – received a piece of paper and some crayons to reflect on the cooking experience.

Once all of the recipes were complete – each group served their finished product to the other friends.  The students were also responsible for cleaning up the materials and workspace where they cooked.  Since many of our students come from homes with household help, this is an important skill for our students to practice.

The entire experience was a wonderful time for our students to work on cooperative learning skills, leadership skills, self – help skills, math skills, reading and writing skills.

How do you use cooking in your classroom?

## Friday, November 22, 2013

### Starting with a Question – Math Inquiry

I have just finished my first PYP (Primary Years Program) class.  If you are unfamiliar with PYP, it is the precursor program to the IB (International Baccalaureate) high school diploma.  It is geared for Pre K – 5th grade (Nursery – Year 6) and is based in inquiry learning.  Most of student learning – especially within Science and Social Studies – in a PYP classroom should stem from questions that students have.
When you think of this age level, having student questions lead learning makes complete sense.  It is the reason that “Unschooling” is so popular with homeschooling in the US.  Kids have questions, lots of them.  On their quests to find the answers to these questions, they learn more than they ever could by us modeling and talking to them.  Also, if the topic interests them, students are more likely to remember what they have learned.
As much as I like and believe in this system of unschooling and inquiry learning, I teach in the real world where there are certain things that have to be taught, no matter if we like them or not, no matter if we have questions about them or not.   So, as I was finishing up my PYP class, I started brainstorming how I could mix what I HAVE to teach and how I WANT to teach.
This is how I decided to do “Monday Math Inquiries”.  While this name sounds fancy, this really just means that on Monday we start out with a question or a real life use for whatever we are learning about that week in math.  For example, this week we learned about doubling and halving.  So my students started on Monday with these questions:
Year 3 (2nd grade): We have 2 baskets. If we put 46 apples in each basket, how many apples do we have all together? If we split 46 apples between the two baskets, how many apples go into each basket?
Year 4 (3rd grade):  We have 2 baskets. If we put 246 apples in each basket, how many apples do we have all together? If we split 246 apples between the two baskets, how many apples go into each basket?
Year 5 (4th grade):  A new video games costs £22.50. The video game is on sale for half off, how much will it cost? How much will two video games cost?
Year 6 (5th grade):  A new video games costs £32.34. The video game is on sale for half off, how much will it cost? How much will two video games cost?

I plug these questions into my Differentiated Problem Solving Sheet and students spend the first 30 minutes trying to solve the problem.  After students have made a good attempt at working with the new concept, we added our Reference Sheet to our Interactive Math Notebooks and model how to double and half numbers.  Then, for homework students watch videos of tutorials on doubling and halving that I have linked to for them.  (For more on the videos I use – check out this post on my Math Video Collaborative Google Doc.)
By allowing students time to “inquire” before I teach, I have found that students are making more connections with what I teach and remembering the concept better.  I’m sure this is not true inquiry, but it does make a difference in my classroom, and at the end of the day that’s all that matters!
How do you use inquiry in math?

### ISM Spotlight – All About Casablanca in Three Languages

This year I am the luckiest teacher in the world. I get to teach at the best school ever – International School of Morocco, with some of the best, most creative, teachers ever. Each time I walk into someone else’s classroom, I get inspired and we just seem to spiral great teaching ideas off of each other. It’s a wonderful place to teach, and since we are all collaborating, it’s a wonderful place for our kids to learn – a teacher’s dream, right? I have tried and tried to convince the other teachers to create blogs of their own to spotlight and share some of their amazing ideas, but everyone is super busy. Instead, they have each agreed to let me spotlight some of their ideas right here on Raki’s Rad Resources. So, each Friday night, I will be posting an ISM Spotlight.

Tonight I want to show you a collaborative project that was worked on in 3 languages.  Our Year 1/ Year 2 (Kindergarten & 1st grade) teacher Courtney Nassar did a unit on “Our City – Casablanca”.  Ms. Nassar guided the students through an inquiry discovery unit on the people and places that make up a city, including creating these collage letters, graphing the languages spoken, charting the things you can see, hear and feel in the city and going on a field trip to a variety of places around the city including the post office, the bakery and the bank.

Her students were lucky enough to work on the concepts of who and what made up their city in English, French and Arabic.  Mr. Raki, our Arabic teacher, worked on the letters that are used to spell out Casablanca in Arabic.  In Arabic, we say “Dar Beida”, which literally translates into white house – just like Casablanca does.

In French, Madame Gaelle worked with the kids to create a poster of French words about Casablanca that go all the way from A – Z.  The students not only brainstormed the words, they also colored the letters and wrote the words to create the poster.

Stop by next week to find out what’s going on at ISM.

## Wednesday, November 20, 2013

### Holidays Around the World Website

It’s time for the Wednesday Website suggestion!! For two years, I was the Technology Specialist at a school in Georgia. During that time, I amassed a large collection of websites that I use with my students. You can download my E-Book of Websites for the Elementary Classroom for free from Teachers Pay Teachers or Smashwords, or, you can check back here each week for the Wednesday Website suggestion.

It’s that time of the year when people start to think about the Winter Holidays.  If you’re looking to teach your kids about holidays celebrated around the world than the BBC has a great section of their website that is just for you.

In the World Religions section of the BBC website, there is information about each of the six main religions: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism.  In addition to general information, there are lessons and worksheets for teachers to use and there are links to even more specific information about holidays and festivals of each religion.  For each holiday, there are activities and worksheets as well.  Here is an example of a worksheet you can find for Ramadan.

This website is a great addition to a unit on world holidays.  If you’re looking for more holiday resources, you can find a ready made Power Point, reader’s theater and vocabulary packet about how light is used in holidays around the world at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Teaching about holidays in other cultures is a good way to introduce students to the concept of global thinking and understanding that not everyone in the world is the same.  How do you introduce this concept to your students?

## Tuesday, November 19, 2013

### ESL Needs Don’t Stop After the First Year

As a teacher at an International School, many of my students are English Language Learners. Even my native English speakers are living in a non-English speaking country. Due to my unique teaching position, I have had some readers ask for tips on teaching English Language Learners. Here is this week’s Tuesday TESOL Teaching Tip:

ELL Teaching Tip of the Week: Second and third year ESL students still need extra assistance.

The first year of English for any student is the most difficult, but it’s not the only time when English Language Learners need help.  Recently, I had a parent conference with the parent of a second year ESL student.  Her words to me have stuck in my head.  She said, “Last year, I knew what our goal was.  She needed to speak, read and write English.  But this year, I don’t know what the goal is.  What do we do now?”  Here is what I said to her, and what I would recommend other teachers continue to work on with second and third year ESL students:

1.  Vocabulary Development:  During the first year, an ESL student seem to grasp words quicker than any other time in their development, simply because they start off with zero and they need a word for everything!  However, the second year their vocabulary should double what it was in the first year because now they can begin to connect words with other words they know and have multiple words for one thing.  This is the time to focus in on synonyms, antonyms, homophones, and homographs.  Structured vocabulary instruction should continue during this time.  My second and third year ESL students continue to use my ESL Vocabulary Packets to enrich their vocabulary, now working at a Level 3 or Level 4.  With second year students, they may know all of their body parts, but do they know words like eyebrow, eyelid, finger nail and freckle?  Most likely not, so this is the time to add these detailed words to their vocabulary.

2.  Speaking and Writing Grammatically Correct:  During the first year, we just want ESL students to speak.  We are often struggling through that dreaded silent period and once they start to produce sentences – in speaking and writing, we are willing to take anything we can get, no matter the grammar.  However, during the second year, students should be able to produce a lot – both orally and written – so now is the time to get that grammar under control.  I teach grammar rules explicitly using mini lessons and daily language.  Never assume the proper grammar will just “sound right” to your students.  They need to know why they must speak and write with this grammatical structure. I  require all of my students to speak, as well as write, grammatically correct.  They need to practice this skill in all productive language.  If they say something incorrectly during their second or third year of English, I correct them gently and ask them to restate the sentence.  After awhile, they begin to correct each other – and I allow this as long as it is done respectfully and politely.  Soon, the grammar is no longer a problem. In fact, many of my ESL students end up with better grammar than my native speakers!

3.  Listening Carefully:  When you first learn a language, you can only focus into a story read aloud or a t.v. show in that language for a very small time.  During that first year, I don’t ask comprehension questions of my students during read aloud or videos.  I do make them sit respectfully and be immersed, but I know that they are only comprehending about 25% of what is said.  By the second year, students should be up to 60 – 75% comprehension.  Now is the time to focus their listening.  During the second year, I regularly ask comprehension questions, require reflection and use other strategies that require students to actively listen to what is going on.  This is the best time for students to begin working in a Read Aloud Journal.  After not understanding for so long, it is a shock to students when they realize that they can grasp the meaning of what is going on, and often they don’t realize it unless I point it out and require it.

4.  Reading Voraciously:  Just like with listening, students in their first year often read long passages, or pages of a book without having any clue what they read.  This is especially true for older students who come to English already reading in a home language that has a similar alphabet/ phonetic structure to English (Spanish, French, etc.)  (Students coming from Arabic or Chinese do less of this, as they have to re-learn phonics when they come to English.)  During the second year, students have built up enough vocabulary to begin to truly understand what they are reading, so this is the time to let them loose on reading anything and everything.  Pick a topic or a series that interests them and encourage them to read as much as possible.  Encourage students to re-read stories from their first year of English and see how much more they understand now.

5.  Maintain the Home Language:  During the first year of English learning, it is really easy to let the home language slip into the background, as all energy is focused on learning English.  (As a mother, I did this when my kids began learning Arabic.  We stopped all but the basics in English to allow their brain to focus on the new language.)  However, we don’t want students to lose their home language for so many reasons.  There are reasons like family continuity, the benefits of being bilingual, future studies in their home language etc.  However, there are also benefits to English learning if a home language is maintained.  For example, students will be able to compare and contrast the grammatical structures of the two languages, will be able to find cognates between the two languages and will be able to connect the common stories of the two languages.  So, during the second and third year, I encourage my parents to work with their children in their home language – continuing growth in reading, writing, grammar, spelling, vocabulary etc.

I am very lucky to get to work with my students for more than one year, so I generally know where they are in the ESL spectrum when I get them.  If you don’t, be sure to ask students, or past teachers, at the beginning of the year how long they have been learning English.  On year, I had a student who spoke beautiful English, but wrote terribly.  It wasn’t until October that someone told me this was only his second year of English.  Knowing our students helps us better meet their needs.

What do you do with your second and third year ESL students?

Do you enjoy the weekly TESOL Teaching Tips? Would you like to view an hour long presentation on this topic? I recently presented on Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners at the Everything’s Intermediate Expo. Now you can grab the presentation for just \$3.95 from Teacher’s Notebook.

Find more TESOL Teaching Tips here, and come back every Tuesday for a new tip!

## Monday, November 18, 2013

### Maintaining Fast Facts

Every teacher I have ever worked with from 2nd grade through 6th grade has said to me at some point - “Math is so much easier when they know their facts”.  I spend a lot of time making sure my students understand what 2 + 4 and 2 x 4 mean, but when we get into long division, doubling, fractions, and measurement, students really just need to have these basic facts memorized.  So, how do I teach fast facts?  Well, we do a variety of games and tiling puzzles, but mainly I ask the kids to practice each night using: apps like Flash to Pass, websites like Mathmagician, or plain old flash cards.  Then, we take 1 minute fact quizzes every single day.  I have 8 levels of quizzes, (click on any level to download from my TPT store).

Subtraction

Multiplication

Division

Multiplication & Division

Order of Operation ( Including parenthesis and exponents)

I have all of these levels because I teach 4 grade levels of math.  However, when I taught just 3rd grade and just 1st grade, I generally had 3 or 4 different levels in my classroom.  Each student starts at a base for their grade level (addition for 2nd and 3rd grade, multiplication for 4th and 5th grade) and works their way up until they run out of levels.  As students master quizzes, they color in various shapes and hang it on our door, building a class pictogram.

Since I have my students for more than one year, the ones that stay with me pick up at the beginning of one year wherever they left off the previous year.

I have two 5th grade students right now who are working on order of operation quizzes, which means they have really mastered their facts and are now taking it a step further.  These two students have a much easier time with other pieces of math than the students who are still working on multiplication facts, because they don’t have to stop in the middle of a long division problem, or a reducing fractions problem and figure out the multiplication or division piece.

How do you work on math facts?  Do you think they are an important piece of the puzzle when students are learning math?

## Sunday, November 17, 2013

### How are Free Online Courses Changing Education?

Recently, I posted about how my school is using Facebook and Pinterest as part of our professional development.  (See the whole post HERE.) I’ve decided to pass on some of the best videos and articles I come across to you each Sunday evening.  Here is this week’s professional development post:

This week’s video is talking about sharing some of the most popular courses from some of the biggest name universities (Harvard, Yale, Stanford) with the entire world for free.  As someone who earned my Master’s degree online, I am well aware that online classes are just as much work (if not more) as classes taken in brick and mortar universities.  However, the flexibility to work on classes wherever and whenever you are provides amazing benefits to students around the world.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter – please leave me a comment with your thoughts on free online college courses.

If you’re interested in more professional development videos – follow my Professional Development Pinterest board or click on the banner below.

## Sunday, November 10, 2013

### A Different Look at Literacy

Recently, I posted about how my school is using Facebook and Pinterest as part of our professional development.  (See the whole post HERE.) I’ve decided to pass on some of the best videos and articles I come across to you each Sunday evening.  Here is this week’s professional development post:

In so many schools, art and music are seen as unnecessary, or extra.  Drama and film making are seen as extra curricular.  Is this the correct way, or can teaching students the grammar of these modes of communication give them an extra way to express themselves?  For my part, I try to integrate the arts into my lessons – by doing things like letting students create videos in science or complete art projects to go along with a reading response.  I’m not sure I’m going far enough, but I was highly intrigued with George Lucas’ talk in this video comparing the different ways we can be literate.  Take 4 1/2 minutes and enjoy this video.  Then, I’d love to here what you think about alternate illiteracies.

If you’re interested in more professional development videos – follow my Professional Development Pinterest board.

## Friday, November 8, 2013

### Happy Birthday to Me! The Present’s For You!

Tomorrow I will turn 31!  For the past two years, I have given away presents from my Teachers Pay Teachers store for everyone who left me a comment on my birthday. This year will be no exception.  Everyone gets to choose their own present, there are almost 440 items to choose from.  You can ask for anything from my store that is NOT a .zip folder.  (The .zip folders jammed up my Outlook, lol!)
In order to get your present, please leave me a comment with the following information so that I can send you a birthday present.
2.)  One post (other than this giveaway post) that you enjoyed from my blog – Raki’s Rad Resources.
3.)  The link from my Teachers Pay Teachers store to the resource you’d like me to send you.
That’s all that you need to do!  Oh, two more things:
1.) All comments must be in by my midnight on Saturday, so that I have enough time to send out the presents on Sunday.  So, we’ll say 12:00 a.m. GMT, which is 7:00 p.m. EST.
2.) If you’d like to buy anything beyond your free gift, my entire Teachers Pay Teachers store will be on sale for 10% off all day on Friday, November 8th and Saturday, November 9th.

Big ooops!  In order to try to prevent some of the massive spam I've been getting, I changed my comment settings the other day and didn't realize it would prevent you all from commenting for this giveaway.  A sweet follower let me know about my mistake, so I am extending the deadline until tomorrow morning at 8 am GMT, which is 3am EST.

## Thursday, November 7, 2013

### Giving Students a Chance to Teach the Class

A few weeks ago, one of my students got so excited about a topic in Science, Apollo 13, that he asked to be able to teach the class about it.  When he suggested this in class, a few other students got excited at the concept of a kid taking over the class.  Seeing the fire in these students’ eyes, I was inspired.  So, I have given my students the option of taking over the class to teach us about anything they want to.  In order to help the students along the process, I created a project sheet and rubric, just to give them guidelines.

At home, I have done genius projects with my personal children, but have never found a way to fit this type of a free choice project into a busy school day.  I hope to use this project as a way to give my students the option of learning about something that truly interests them, and allows them to see that learning can really be an amazing process.

If you would like to do this type of a project with your class, feel free to download my Become an Expert – Teach the Class Project free from Google Docs.

## Wednesday, November 6, 2013

### Powtoon – Easy to Use Video Creation Software

It’s time for the Wednesday Website suggestion!! For two years, I was the Technology Specialist at a school in Georgia. During that time, I amassed a large collection of websites that I use with my students. You can download my E-Book of Websites for the Elementary Classroom for free from Teachers Pay Teachers or Smashwords, or, you can check back here each week for the Wednesday Website suggestion.

Today I discovered the coolest new website called Powtoon.  With Powtoon, you can easily create videos using text, sound, voice over, images, and animations.  It is free for the first 30 uploads to YouTube, and extremely easy to use.  Here is the quick 43 second video I created in just about an hour:

The formatting and editing process is extremely simple to manipulate, especially in comparison to iMovie or other programs that can be quite complex.  I can think of so many uses for this program, but here are just a few:

For Teachers:

1.) Create tutorial videos for your students.

2.)  Create project expectation videos for students and parents.

3.)  Create a quick presentation for Open House or Parents Night that can be sent to parents who aren’t able to attend.

4.)  Create a virtual look into your classroom to give parents an idea of expectations.

5.)  Create a promotional video about yourself to include in your portfolio – or to send with follow-up e-mails to prospective principles when looking for a job.

For Students:

1.)  Present information you have learned about a subject – ANY subject!

2.)  A new way to do a book report – great for Online Book Reports.

3.)  Create a Question and Answer video for new students to your school or class.

4.)  Create a tutorial video for other students in your class.  You might want to use this tutorial video planning sheet.

5.)  Outline what you have learned during the course of a unit or a year and include it in your Online Portfolio.

How could you use Powtoon in your classroom?

## Tuesday, November 5, 2013

### TESOL Teaching Tip #40 - Kick Starting Writing for ESL Students

As a teacher at an International School, many of my students are English Language Learners. Even my native English speakers are living in a non-English speaking country. Due to my unique teaching position, I have had some readers ask for tips on teaching English Language Learners. Here is this week’s Tuesday TESOL Teaching Tip:

I have two lovelies this year who came to me silent – as in the silent phase of language development.  When they arrived 9 weeks ago, they spoke not one word of English.  Now, they are beginning to talk – simple sentences like “Can I go to the bathroom?” and “I need a pencil.”  I even get a few sentences like “I no like it.” and “I am the lineleader!”  In reading, they are able to sound out their books and have been building vocabulary a piece at a time.  In math, they are able to understand most of the directions and come up with the right answer. (Find out more about the silent period in this old blog post.)

Now, the kicker – how do we transfer these new literacy skills into creating written stories?  Here are some tricks we are using to build writing for these students:

1.)  Label a picture:  Use a picture, label all of the key components in English.  Let students create a story about the picture.

2.)  Conjugate a verb:  Choose a specific verb and help students conjugate the verb in their home language and in English. Feel free to download the conjugating sheet free from Google Docs. Then, ask students to create a story using this verb.

3.)  Sentence frames:  Give students the beginning of a variety of sentences on a topic and allow them to fill in the blanks.
For example:
My name is:________________
I am _____ years old.
I am in the ___________ grade.
I live in __________________.
I have _______ brothers and sisters, named _________________.

4.)  Vocabulary packets:  My students complete weekly ESL Vocabulary packets on a variety of topics.  One of the activities they have to do is write a sentence using each vocabulary words.  At the beginning of the year I expect students’ sentences to be simple and repetitive – like I have a chair.  However, as the year goes on, I encourage them to use the previous weeks’ vocabulary and the verbs they are learning to create more complex and differentiated sentences.  I also encourage students to use the vocabulary they are learning in other stories they are writing.

5.)  Translate the key words:  Our students have access to mini iPads with the iTranslate app on them, which they are allowed to use to translate key words that they want to use in their writing.  However, they are only allowed to translate one word at a time, which prevents them from trying to translate entire sentences or stories.

6.)  Write about familiar topics:  Students start by writing about what they know.  They are allowed to write about topics that interest them, but they are also encouraged to write about what is going on at school.  For many ESL students, school is the only time they hear English, so by writing about what happens at school, they are necessarily writing about events that they already have English words for.

7.)  Use books:  In addition to teaching vocabulary and reading skills, books can be used to model good writing.  I often let students write sentences in the same format as the writing in their books, or on the same topic of their books, or using the same vocabulary as their books.  There are tons of ways to use books as a springboard for writing practice.

8.)  Model, model, model:  Taking time to model good writing is important for all students, but especially for ESL students.  For beginning students, you may need to model basics like using capitol letters and punctuation marks.  You should also take time to point on the noun and the verb in a sentence.

9.)  Correct, but don’t overcorrect:  Take time to correct students’ mistakes, but don’t make their paper a sea of red ink.  Instead, choose one important thing you would like them to work on – like verb tenses, or adding a describing detail, and work on that with your students.

10.)  Conference and praise growth:  Take time to sit with students and review their writing regularly.  Praise the growth you see as often as possible.

Do you enjoy the weekly TESOL Teaching Tips? Would you like to view an hour long presentation on this topic? I recently presented on Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners at the Everything’s Intermediate Expo. Now you can grab the presentation for just \$3.95 from Teacher’s Notebook.

Find more TESOL Teaching Tips here, and come back every Tuesday for a new tip!