Thursday, June 28, 2012

British classrooms #3 and Olympics website!


A warm day here in London, but that is fine by me (I just miss air-conditioning!)......I am currently watching Wimbledon on TV and wondering how I could get some tickets for cheap (is that possible?!) as these games are being played just down the street! Crazy!

Anyway, as schools go until the end of July here, with a September start, schools are full of Olympics activities. I took a few pictures (preschool classes). Perhaps you will see some ideas you can adapt. I found a great website from these classes: (no 'e' for twinkle). There are many {free} Olympics resources there, as well as many other things as well.

Here are some {FREE} resources I really like from

I particularly liked the flags as I noticed students discussed colors, positions ('red stripe at the top') and had to look carefully to sort the flags.

A few other randoms bits:

Hope things are going well for you! What's your favorite Olympic sport to watch?

Kelli xx

Friday, June 22, 2012

Geometry FREEBIES & Paris!


My husband and I popped over to Paris for 5 days over the past weekend (2 1/2 hour train--if only everything was that close!!!). My husband's brother and wife have been living there the past year for work. 

It was soooo beautiful and great to be with family again! They were great hosts and took us to their favorite places. I hope we can get over there one more time before they move back to South Africa next month.

I also have a few freebies from a Geometry unit I'm updating (Printables for K-2 Math Journals). Let me know if you like them!

Click here for comparing attributes with titles
Click here for comparing faces of shapes
Click here for comparing sides
Click here for titles for mind map

If you use journals with your K-2 students, my TPT store has more printables like this!
 - - {PARIS}  - -

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Hello! Salam! G'day! Guten Tag!

Hello!!! Hope your summer is relaxing and filled with loved ones.

Look at this SUPER CUTE bunting I saw in a store the other day!  I'm sure you could create this and hang it in your classroom {but I'm not that clever with the computer}. Anyway, I wanted to pass on the idea : )


I also came across this: printable international-flags-font (click on pic).
Thought it would go perfect with the Olympics.

The rest of the pictures are a random mix from going on walks and such (schools were on break this week). Check back soon and I will have pictures from Paris-ooh la la!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Guest Blogger: Tammy at Forever in First!!

Hi.  My name is Tammy from Forever in First If you're like me, I'm sure you love hearing all about teaching from across the Atlantic, but Kelli asked if this little teacher from Idaho would be her guest.  Idaho isn't quite as thrilling as England, but hopefully what I have to say will hold your attention.  Thanks Kelli for letting me drop by!   

I'm fully aware that it's summer and your brain is probably on vacation just like mine, but would you do me a favor?  I double dog dare you to compute the answer to this problem without using an algorithm.  In other words, carrying, borrowing, and all the tricks that you most likely learned as a student are illegal.  Grab a piece of paper if you need to and play along pretty please.  Here goes.

847 + 256

How'd it go?  Was it hard to ignore the rules of an algorithm or did you find it easy to think flexibly about computation?  If we were in my classroom, I'd ask several of you to draw your strategies on the board and ask you explain your thinking to the rest of us.  You would definitely notice the absence of any algorithms.  You would see several different strategies that originated from the students instead of the teacher.  You would hear the reasoning behind each strategy.  You would hopefully walk away with several new computational tools and a more complete concept of how addition works.  You would definitely know that there's never just one way to solve a math problem.

"Flexibility with a variety of computational strategies is an important tool for successful daily living.  It is time to broaden our perspective of what it means to compute."  John A. Van de Walle, Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics 158

You see, I've got math on my brain this summer.  I'm in the middle of this thought-provoking book.  (Get yourself a copy!) It definitely stretches my thinking and at times confirms what I had always thought.  I love books like that.  It covers about everything, but today I have just enough time to hit on the somewhat controversial topic of computation.  Who knew computation could be so controversial?  

Like most of us, I was taught algorithms in school, but as a teacher, I've simply never believed in them.  The book states that they're not evil, but Van de Walle also says,

"Far too many students learn them as meaningless procedures, develop error patterns, and require an excessive amount of reteaching or remediation."  (162)  

Does any of that sound familiar?  The premise of this book and of the math classes I've taken in the past few years is that students learn to compute more efficiently and understand what they're doing more completely when they invent their own strategies.  Teaching them to carry and borrow does not allow them the freedom to do this, even in classrooms where algorithms are conceptually taught well.  The book lays out several other reasons why invented strategies are more beneficial than prescribed algorithms but I'm afraid this post would get way too long and you'd never forgive me, so I'll let you get the book and read it for yourself.  When I allow my kids to think independently and flexibly about math, this is a taste of what they come up with.  (These strategies originated from contextual tasks.  I apologize that you don't know the contextual problem behind the strategy.  Also, notice that many equations are written in horizontal form.  This is on purpose.  It's harder for algorithms to sneak their way into the mix when the problems aren't written vertically.)

(Yep, this is my writing, but the kids told me all the steps.  I was simply their secretary.)

Stepping away from the safety of an algorithm might create a little fear in the hearts of some teachers out there and understandably so.  If that's you, you're in good company.  Look here to read about some of the leaps of faith I've taken on my journey as a math teacher.  If you're not ready to leap, then maybe this post has raised some questions or sparked some unexpected thinking.  I believe Van de Walle would be pleased with that, and his book would definitely fill in the holes that I've left wide open.  If you can get your hands on a copy, it will broaden your view of what it means to compute, and in my opinion, our students will be better mathematicians because of it.  

Monday, June 4, 2012

Math Journals in England & FREEBIE!

-{ First Grade Math Journals in England }-
Word problems, Missing Number, Rounding

Word Problems:
I love doing this into journals because:
1) it uses less paper 
2) students can move at their own pace (some get through 3 problems, some get through 7)
3) it's easy to differentiate (make different word problems and print on different color paper)
4) it's great to have student work in journals instead of cubbies or the garbage!

love this stamp!
I love this because it can be modified and students can work it out in the journal
Rounding (an OLI is Our Learning Intention)

In honor of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee over here in London town (and that I made it to 100 followers!), here is my latest math journal pack for K-1 (and early second grade, depending on your students).........FREE until Wed!


It is free until Wednesday, June please download it and see what you think! If you like it, there are similar resources in my TPT store.
All I ask is that you:
1) Become a follower if you are not already
2) Leave a comment on this post and/or my TPT store!


Friday, June 1, 2012

British classrooms #2 and Diamond Jubilee

Hello!! Busy week.......basically because the sun was shining for so many days in a row, which means I was outside until 9 or 10 o'clock to enjoy it each day!!!  I even got to wear shorts!! Come on London, let's keep it up all summer!

afternoon in a beer garden to enjoy the sunny weather!!

So, in my last post I was talking about my first private school experience (4 days at the same school last week). Here were some of my observations/notes:

the school was in a former church.....look at the stained glass windows!!

1)  It was Preschool 2 (reception-4 &5 yr olds) and they were doing really advanced stuff! I did a phonics lesson with them on oi/oy, sh/ch, etc and they understood it! They also wrote sentences independently!
2) They wear little blazers and ties with their uniform-like little adults.......uniforms....what do we think about these?
aprons on hooks
3) The class size was a bit smaller than classes in England (22 compared with 30......every class in England state schools has 30 almost always).
4) They have specialist teachers for P.E., music, ballet, etc. (this is not the case in state schools)

5) They had the most amazing lunches I have seen.......and all the kids in this class wore aprons! (sidenote.....the school feeds the staff for free.......Brie cheese, baguette, custard with cake......needless to say that I may have gorged myself in my 4 days at the school)........oh and there were 4-5 adults to monitor/help 50 students at lunch (I think schools in Arizona usually have 2 adults for 100 students??)
6) We did Aborginal art as they finished a unit on Australia. Love it!

7) They had French Day (remember France is only 2 1/2 hours away, and it seems most of these students had been there).........there was an assembly where students shared facts, art, etc. A parent came in that speaks fluent French and read a fairytale in English/, what a beautiful language!

8) The ladies I worked with were absolutely lovely to me. They invited me to sit in on a before school planning meeting and we ate lunch together. I might have applied for a job, but half of the staff was leaving......this usually raises red flags to me.

9) Packing up was excruciating. As independent as they were, I had to pack their bags for them while another teacher read a book to them!! This process included: fishing out all of their book bags from a tub, sorting reading log books, sorting phonics homework folder, and things from their trays. Ummmmm, this took FOREVER and they do it like this everyday! 

10) I like the way they mount and trim the students' artwork for displays (see below)

this displayed wasn't finished, but the teacher let me take a picture anyway
up close
"Mini-beast" unit...these are pictures created in Paint by the students. 
In conclusion, this particular school did not seem to be out-of-this-world type of education (no field or smartboards either!?), which sortof dispels the private school myth for me (although this is only 1 school). It was an interesting experience and the children were wonderful. It was an enjoyable week.

{{ Diamond Jubilee }}

The Queen has been reigning for 60 years and the celebrations for that are this weekend.all weekend.

It's kindof a big deal here.

I don't think I will ever need to see a Union flag or red, white and blue bunting ever again.

Every school, every pub, every store, everything.covered in jubilee stuff.

store front window
makeup counters

Has there been much talk of this Diamond Jubilee in the States.......or mainly just about the Olympics? Busy summer for England!

Thanks for reading,