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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Multigrade Tools

Kim liked my idea of measuring foam pipe covers, but asked,
“ I am trying to tie this to my decimal study...
Got ideas?
I started with yarn lengths... but the pipes would be BETTER! I might use meter sticks...You've got me thinking!”
(Background Information: A meter stick is a meter long, and is marked off in decimeters (there are 10 of these per meter), centimeters (10 of these per decimeter and 100 per meter) and millimeters (there are 10 of these per centimeter and 1,000 of these per meter). As the markings get thinner and closer together, they indicate smaller measurements. Usually decimeters are boldest, followed by centimeters and then millimeters. Decimeters and centimeters will be numbered, but millimeters likely will not.)
I love this metric ruler by Spectrum (Canada).  It looks like a triangular prism and breaks down the measurements smaller and smaller. 
This side has increments in decimeters with white and orange spaces indicating each separate decimeter.
This side has increments in centimeters and decimeters, with the decimeter featured in bold print.
This side combines them all…decimeters, centimeters, and millimeters.
So when your students record the measurement of the foam pipe covers they will follow this order:
1. First they will note how many decimeters are encompassed by the object and write that number down.
2. Then count out the centimeters past the last decimeter. Write that number down.
3. Finally count out the millimeters past the last centimeter. Write that number down.
 Then you will be able to read the measurement in its decimal form. For example, if the object you measured extended past the second decimeter, then to 3 centimeters and then to 7 millimeters, your final measurement will be 2 decimeters, 3 centimeters and 7 millimeters. You can write this as a decimal expression of a meter by writing it 0.237 meter.
Speaking of measuring...  
                check out these Multigrade TOOLS!

Let's consider a simple tool like a ruler when you are teaching a 1/2 Multigrade class. For the 1st graders, I would suggest providing a ruler that clearly shows 1 inch increments only. They usually  have to measure "to the nearest inch" or "inch", so don't confuse them with all those unnecessary divisions on their ruler.

2nd graders need a tool that clearly shows inches and half-inches...
 because they are ready to move on.

One of my favorite rulers only shows increments in fourths, and can be used with 3rd and 4th graders.

Help your students to LOVE to measure... by providing the right tool.
Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a class set of these rulers in your classroom? (They are made in the USA too!)


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

MULTI-SIZE Your Assignments

In a multigrade classroom, multisize your assignments with concrete manipulatives.

I bought a set of foam pipe covers and cut them into varying lengths and created multiple levels of tasks.

Using only a few lengths, order them from least to greatest length.

When you add a few more sizes you increase the difficulty.

Can you notice even the smallest differences in length and now place them in order?

Can you and your partner order these lengths from the smallest length to the greatest length?

Can you measure their length to the NEAREST inch or NEAREST half-inch?

Can you measure their EXACT length?

Can you calculate the difference in length between the longest and shortest lengths?

Can you match the GIVEN LENGTH CARDS to the correct pipe cover?

Multi-size your assignments for Multi-grade Classes! What suggestions do you have for additional tasks? Let's brainstorm some more...


Saturday, September 17, 2011

FREE Everyday Math Applications Available

The following applications for the Apple iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches can be downloaded at iTunes for FREE from
Sept 24-26, 2011.
How can this help your students if you don't have the Apple products in your classroom?  Ask yourself if your students might have accessibility at their homes. I'd rather see them play these games instead of Angry Cats...

(They are working on developing apps for Droid Devices, but they are not available at this time.)


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Here is the answer sheet that I decided I needed for the Moon Phases Game that I posted on September 6th. This page provides 2 answer sheets.
Click HERE to obtain a copy.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Lunar Phase Card Game Answer Card Needed

   After playing the Lunar Phase Game today, I realized that I need to provide an reference document or answer sheet because both people playing the game with me did not know whether the lunar phase picture and name were a match or not when I placed my "pair" on the table.

Secondly, the lunar phase picture card looks the same for the first and third quarters depending on how you turn the card. I decided that's okay, but I just didn't realize it when I made the game.

Perhaps that why you should PLAY THE GAME, and not just visualize it in your head. I'll design a reference document (labeled pictures of the moon phases) and post it soon.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Lunar Phases Card Game

Do you teach the moon phases in your class?

Today while working on my multigrade Planet Unit, I created a card game called "Lunar Eclipse" which is played like "Old Maid."  The photographs used are from NASA. The object of the game is to make pairs of one moon phase card and it's name. You do not want to end up holding the Lunar Eclipse card. 

Click on this worksheet to obtain a set for your class use. ENJOY!

I thought this would be a fun way to practice identifying the different moon phases. It could be played by the whole class or in a center. I would recommend that the cards be printed on a vellum weight paper, cut out and placed in a plastic bag along with the direction card, which is included.

These same cards could be used as a formative assessment when doing the Oreo Cookie Lunar Phase Experience. Remember when Karen suggested. "Or, you could use it as a quick, fun assessment - give each student one cookie and have them pick one of the moon phases out of a hat. They then need to use the cookie to illustrate the phase they selected. "  She later emailed me and mentioned that if you have struggling students when you hand them a card you could 'stack the deck' so they could be successful.

The best part of all is that it can be played in a Multigrade Third/Fourth  or  Fourth/Fifth Grade class and everyone would be challenged !


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Fun Independent Practice for 3/4 and 4/5 Multigrade Classes on the Moon

When Bruce Miller looked at the research concerning multigrade classrooms he found:                  
"Since the teacher cannot be everywhere or with every student at the same time, the teacher shares
instructional responsibilities with students within a context of clear rules and routines. Students know what is expected. They know what assignments to work on, when they are due, how to get them graded, how to get extra help, and where to turn them in.

Students learn how to help one another and themselves. At an early age, students are expected to develop interdependence. The effective multigrade teacher establishes a climate to promote and develop this independence."

When learning about the moon, provide experiences that allow students to learn independently. Below are some example of independent practice activities that enhance students understanding of the moon phases that are available on internet sites:

This one is called Moonlight  Madness :
This is from a project at NASA. It allows students to check their ability to identify the different moon phases by name. 

This game is timed and is called Moon Phases from Space and is found at

This game is called Lunar Challenge from
Science Net Links is connected to NASA. This game highlights the "pattern" of the moon phases.

How will you let students know that it is their time to use the computer? What ROUTINE will you develop to structure the experience so it flows smoothly?  I suggest a chart that is posted near the computer, that quickly identifies a list of students (by reading group) in the order that they can use the computer.

For exampleduring small reading groups time, while you are working with one reading group the students from other groups (that are working independently "Daily 5" style) know that the students with a clothespin clip on their name can use the computer during their "Read to Self" time. When they are finished with their turn, THEY move the clip down to the next student. The routine is systematic and fair. 


Friday, September 2, 2011

My Answer to the Double-Stuff Oreo Question

Oh, I thought I was so smart earlier this morning to be thinking of using double stuff oreo cookies to make moon phases! When I went back to the blog Science Matters, I found that Karen had already covered this idea in her post on August 17, 2010.

Use Oreo cookies (Double Stuff work best for this exercise) to model the phases of the moon.

Split the cookies open and scrape off the appropriate amount of cream filling, so you're left with the desired "picture" of the moon.

You could use a whole bunch of these and create the whole cycle. Use some frosting to "glue" the cookies to a plate in the appropriate order.

Or, you could use it as a quick, fun assessment - give each student one cookie and have them pick one of the moon phases out of a hat. They then need to use the cookie to illustrate the phase they selected.
Don’t you just love her idea about a formative assessment where they pick a phase out of a hat and then have to create it following the original experience! What a terrific follow-up ...Oh those simple ideas!
I was also thinking of a homework assignment where they connect the "concrete" (oreo model) to the "representative" model and have them draw the phases of the moon on a piece of paper using their own model as a "resource." Lastly, the "abstract" model would come on the test when they had to choose the correct illustration to show the moon phases using actual NASA photographs. Huuuummm...maybe I could get Karen from Science Matters to pull that together for one of her posts.

A Simple Formative Assessment for Planets Unit

Oh,  for  those  simple  ideas!
Here is a simple idea for an informative assessment:
Rotate/Revolve Model

Make this simple model to demonstrate the differences between rotation and revolution.

Thread a practice golf ball onto a pipe cleaner.  Twist the pipe cleaner closed, to make a loop. 

To show rotation: spin the ball.

To show revolution: slide the ball around the pipe cleaner.

The materials are so simple and inexpensive, you could make a classroom set of these and have students try it out themselves.  

You can make a larger scale model using a hula hoop and a wiffle ball.  You will have to cut part of the ball open to get it around the hula hoop. 
This idea was from this great, creative blog:
Personal Note: When I went to the dollar store to look for the practice golf balls, but they were unavailable. They did have practice baseballs for 4 for $1.00 so I went with that. Then I adapted the orbit pathway to 2 pipecleaners.
Even though this assessment may seem too simple to be effective, let me assure you that it is not. I tested it on 6 teachers, and I could tell that two teachers had no idea the difference between revolve and rotate. This is probably because they learned science by completing worksheets instead of “doing and discussing.”
Next section in my unit is The Moon….  I’m Thinking……..

I wonder ... would double stuff oreos be even better?


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