Thursday, September 27, 2012

Teachers Pay Teachers Was Showcased on CNN!

Just wanted to share my enthusiasm about CNN reporting about Teachers Pay Teachers on Erin Burnett OutfrontCNN!  See it on Twitter.  

Lessons by Molly © 2012  All rights reserved.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Saga of the Bicolored Numeracy Beans

If you have taught for a while you might be familiar with a popular math workshop called Mathematics Their Way which was developed through the book, Mathematics Their Way by Mary Baratta-Lorton.  In the 1970's Mrs. Baratta-Lorton developed practical hands on teaching methods which consisted of using  inexpensive items.  The fact that these materials are inexpensive makes it possible for most teachers to implement her strategies in their own classrooms.  Mrs. Baratta-Lorton accomplished a great deal in her short life and teachers today are still using many of her ideas.

One such idea, includes the use of large Lima beans which teachers spray paint red on one side.  The other side of the bean is left white.  When developing the concept of the number four, teachers give each child four beans.  The children place the beans in a small plastic cup or some other type of container.  Then they dump the beans out of the cup with a red or white side showing on the bean.  The children record what they see on a worksheet, put the beans back in the cup, and repeat the sequence several times.  At the end of the activity, the students can record the addition sentences that correspond with the data recorded.  (I recommend that the students use the red color as the first addend when writing the addition sentence.)  Later on, when the next number concept is developed, students use five beans in the cup.  As the children advance in their understanding of number concepts, the number of beans used increases as well.  Click on the word worksheet to go straight to the bean worksheets developed by Mathematics Their Way.  Click on the word blackline to see more resources from the Center for Innovation in Education Inc.

These old beans served me well.  I'm retiring them now.
For many years I used my teacher-made set of two-toned beans to develop the concept of numbers four through ten.  They served me well with a few exceptions.  Exception one:  Often, children would not understand the need for recording the data when the beans landed on the white side.  After all, the beans were as white as the worksheet.  Why color?  My belief is that the students MUST color both the red and white to develop the concept most efficiently.  Exception two:  It's hard to check student work when the coloring was done with a white crayon.  On some occasions, I ended up "feeling" the crayon wax to determine that it was recorded properly.  Exception three:  Alright,  maybe I'm not the best spray painter around but . . . when the children saw a small speck of red on the white side I was asked, "Is this the red side or the white side?"

Then one year, I noticed another teacher's beans.  She had the brilliant idea for spray painting the other side of the beans blue!  So this year I got around to making my own set.  Here are my directions with "How To" photos . . . just in case anyone else wants to have a go at this. 

1.  Buy the large sized Lima beans.  Two 16 ounce bags should do the trick.  I used three bags and figured I could always give some away.

2.  Buy one 12 ounce can of blue spray paint and one 12 ounce can of red.  I bought my paint at Michael's Crafts.  You will end up with extra paint.  Make sure to get your teacher discount at Michael's!   

3.  Read and follow the directions on the spray paint cans.  

4.  Put on your old clothes and your old flip flops.  You might end up wearing a little paint!

Put your old flip flops on.  You might spray a little paint on yourself.

5.  Find a place outside with a flat surface.  I did mine on thick grass which made things a little more challenging. 

6.  Spread the beans out on newspaper.  Lay the beans flat.
Red and blue spray paint, Lima beans, and some newspaper is all that's needed!

Spread the beans out evenly on the newspaper.
7.   Spray one side red and allow to dry.  I allowed at least double the time the directions on the bottle gave.  (About 30 minutes)
The red side is finished

8.  Now comes the tedious task of turning each bean over to the white side.  Once all beans are on their white side, spray with the blue paint.  Allow paint on the beans to dry.
Flipping beans is a tedious task!
Gotta love the blue color!
Here's a close-up of the blue beans while they're still wet.

9.  Sorry, your not done yet.  You'll want to check through your beans for spots you've missed.  You won't want the little guys asking you if its blue or red!  It's a good idea to put a second coat on. I did this on the red side but didn't put an extra coat on the blue side. 
The final product.

Gift your extra beans to another teacher.
Children toss the beans out of the cups and record the outcomes on a worksheet.
Now my grass has a hint of red and a small patch of blue.

Lessons by Molly © 2012  All rights reserved.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Center Idea For Building Addition Fluency in the First Grade Classroom

Numeracy concepts are one of the most important skills first grade educators are responsible for teaching.  Many teachers use songs, counters, rote counting, games, story problems, number lines, and the like to build numeracy concepts.  I have discovered that Rekenreks are also a great tool for developing numeracy concepts.

Gradually, teachers move on toward an introduction of addition concepts through the use of the same algorithms taught when they attended school.  Some teachers have branched out and have taken on the challenge of using innovative strategies like those proposed by Mathematics in the City.

Whichever method is used, educators are still accountable for teaching the objectives outlined by the state in which they teach in.  One such objective is for students to solve basic addition facts.  This would also include doing so at a reasonable rate of speed.  

I created an addition facts center for students to use to increase speed and proficiency with math problems.  This center permits children to practice addition in both horizontal and vertical form.  I chose not to use plus or equals signs when I developed the activity.  It took me a little while to put this together but it will be worth the time invested.  It was the laminating that took the most time.  I also wanted the children to have the fun of pulling the numbers on and off the center with the fasteners.  The graphics for the frames came from Scrappin Doodles (copyright) which I was given permission to modify.

It's center assembly time!

View more about this center at my Teachers pay Teachers store here.

Lessons by Molly © 2012  All rights reserved.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day Grand Opening!

Today is Labor Day.  While there are still a few more weeks left of summer this holiday is usually considered a time to mark the end of summer vacation when swimming pools close and students begin school anew.

This holiday marks a new beginning for me.  Two months ago I wrote that I planned to open a store at the Teachers pay Teachers website.  This Labor Day weekend I finally did it.  I posted products for sale!  I felt like it was the "Grand Opening" to my store.  I just have a few educational products but I am only getting started.  I never imagined having the opportunity to be a "business person".  I am finding it rather fun!

Enjoy the rest of the week!  

Lessons by Molly © 2012  All rights reserved.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Educator Discounts Leave Money in Teachers' Wallets

A new school year has begun and you are well prepared.  The lesson plans are done and your room looks like "Paradise Island".  You completed a school purchase order before the end of the previous school year and by some miracle the shipment came through over the summer.  You were thrilled to see that box of goodies at your classroom door when the teacher work days arrived!  Besides that, you took advantage of those back-to-school deals the big named stores offered a few short weeks ago.  Thanks to your careful planning, your classroom is well stocked for the year ahead. 

But now you've realized there are a few more "must haves" to survive the school year ahead of you.  Like most teachers, you've already reached into your own pockets to make up the difference between what you were allotted by the district and what you will need in order to have a great year.  Unfortunately, you can't justify spending more money right now because you have your own personal budget to balance.  This usually includes a mortgage or rent payment, some dreaded student loans, and the everyday expenses of life itself.  You can't buy all the things you want for your students so you'll have to make the most with what you have.

The good news is there are great deals out there that teachers can take advantage of to save lots of money.  Three of my favorite stores are Barnes and Noble, Michael's, and Staples.  I use each one for different purposes.  Luckily, all of these "Bricks and Mortar" have a deal for educators. 

I love walking into Barnes and Noble and smelling the coffee.  But I'm not there for coffee.  I've come to get my hands on wonderful children's books that I can use for a read aloud or an informative book to compliment a science or social studies unit.  I've brought my faculty identification card along with me.  My identification card permits me to purchase any books for the classroom at twenty percent off.  Typically, at some point during the fall, Barnes and Noble will announce an educator's appreciation week.  During the educator appreciation week, an additional five percent is discounted making the total discount twenty-five percent instead of the usual twenty percent.  This promotion gets a little sweeter.  Teachers can also apply the discount toward the purchase of personal items during the educator appreciation week.  You will need to sign up for the educator's discount program in order to partake.  The sign-up process is easy and hassle free!

Take the ID card with you.
Michael's is the place for getting materials for arts and crafts activities.  Children always love a craft!  The little ones are so proud of themselves when they get to take home something they made in class.  I especially like the sparkly glitter glue.  It always seems to make any project look marvelous.  Michael's offers teachers a fifteen percent discount on materials for classroom use.  I also grab the forty percent off coupons in the newspapers and through e-mail.  I apply the forty percent off coupon toward my single most expensive item and use the teacher discounts for the other purchases.  You'll need to let them know you're a teacher and show your school identification card in order to get the discount.

 No teacher can function without basic office supplies such as tape and sticky notes.  The Staples office supply store has a unique teacher discount program.  Sign up with the Staples Rewards program.  Start saving empty ink cartridges and ask members of the school community to donate their empty ones.  Collect up to ten ink cartridges a month.  Take them to Staples and you'll soon be downloading a coupon from you computer worth twenty dollars.  Each ink cartridge recycled is worth two dollars back on materials for your classroom.  One of the new requirements of this program is that you purchase some printer ink from Staples every few months. 

Here are some pictures of the goodies I bought with my twenty dollar coupon the other day.  The eraser dice are for center games.  They were three dollars a pair.  I bought three sets so that was nine dollars of my twenty.

Most of my binder clips escaped into the abyss last year.  The replacements were three dollars. 

The coffee cup tape dispenser was a luxury item.  I wanted something cute for the children.  I think this will do the trick.  It was on sale for seven dollars.

The grand total for the items above was nineteen dollars plus about fifty cents tax.  But I got all of it for free because I recycled the ink cartridges through the Staples Rewards program!

It's nice that these big named stores have not forgotten about the teachers and wish to support education.  Get those discounts and use them!

Lessons by Molly © 2012  All rights reserved.
Raw graphic components courtesy