Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Different Way of Math Instruction

I was talking to a fourth grade teacher today about her style of teaching and math.  We both agreed that she is so strong when she teaches small groups and is really able to pinpoint students' strengths and weaknesses.  We talked about her trying to do a daily five type format for math, and use her Acuity math results to really drive her small group and individual instruction.  I am so proud of her to be willing to take the leap and try things a different way!  When I go home and am not blocked by pinterest, I want to look up lots of ideas for her to support her.  In the meantime, I found a fourth grade teacher's website online where she talks about doing this same thing.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Universal Themes in Literature

Here are some sources for universal themes, which I started looking for since I was talking with the 5th grade teachers about it last week.

Themes in literature
An example of a grade level theme hallway - how cool is this!

A Flipped Classroom

Here is an interesting article about a flipped English classroom.  I wonder what kind of results we could get trying this in an elementary classroom?

9. A New York City Teacher Flips Her English Classes

            In this AMLE Magazine article, New York City educator Pooja Patel describes how she and her colleagues successfully “flipped” their classes. In her seventh-grade English course, Patel decided to flip all the instructional lessons on essay writing. She created 5-10 minute podcasts on each essential element of the essay (e.g., What is a thesis statement? Where is the thesis statement in an essay?) and posted them online ( Many of the podcasts required students to bring a completed activity to class for discussion. For example, after listening to the podcast on connecting body paragraphs, students had to write a conclusion sentence or sentences for each paragraph that connected it to the next one and then create a concluding paragraph that met specific criteria. Class time was used discussing students’ products, answering questions, and honing skills.

            Students reacted favorably to the flipping, saying the podcasts were a powerful resource, there was more time for processing information, more time to write, and class time was used better. Patel concludes with several pointers:

-          Don’t reinvent the wheel. Lots of information on flipping is available on the Web.

-          Keep podcasts short and simple.

-          Link videos to classroom instruction. Podcasts should have a specific purpose.

-          Hold students accountable for watching and following up on the podcasts.


“An Experiment in Flipping” by Pooja Patel in AMLE Magazine, October 2013 (Vol. 1, #3, p. 31-33),; the author can be reached at