Writing my way through the school year!

Posts tagged ‘engaging lessons’

Work as Play! Kids Just Want to Have Fun!

My team teacher and I were standing in the hallway this morning when she walked over and whispered, “If I were a kid with all this testing, testing, testing, I wouldn’t want to come to school either.” Gasp! No, actually, I know exactly what she means, school has become the most boring place  in the universe for these poor kids.

A large percentage of our students are bored with school.   Standardized testing is a huge culprit, along with its accomplice, data.  When this is the focus of your classroom, hmmm… how can I say this politely? Your classroom is a huge yawn! And you can’t fully blame the teachers, by any means, their jobs are on the line, if they don’t tow the line. What are we to do?!

I just finished teaching a unit on Addition and Subtraction with large numbers, and I did not want to provide the students with a handout with 25-30 problems on it. Instead, I said to them, “I am giving you $5,000, and you can buy whatever you want!”

First reaction, “Are you really giving us $5,000?” 🙂 Um, no.

“I am going to let you shop on the Internet with $5,000. Use the exact amount, or as much of it as you can.”

We grabbed our pencils and notebooks and headed to the computer lab.  They were so excited, they didn’t even realize I was  actually checking out how much they had learned during the unit.  We got to the computer lab and I let them loose! They collaborated w/o being told and it was amazing to watch and listen to them use their knowledge.   The great part is (besides being tons of fun), was that it applied to many other standards that connect to real life.

“What sites can we go on?” (Appropriate sites)

“Should I buy the one with the sale?” (Making financial decisions)

“Mrs.M, I went over!” (Sticking to a budget)

AND, all the adding and subtracting you could ever need! I also let them use calculators to check their work.  Of course, you don’t need a computer, newspaper advertisements would work just as well. The other 5th grade teachers loved my idea, (it’s not original), and they are going to use it tomorrow. Fun is infectious!:)

All this is to say, school should be a place students want to come .  No,  school doesn’t have to be  fun all the time, but can’t it be fun sometimes?

Glad There’s Google!

“How many of you have been to New York?”

Two students in my group raised their hand. I asked them to name some things they know about New York, and they really couldn’t tell me much.  I, of course, knew a lot, because it’s my hometown.  But I wanted their knowledge, not mine. This was the third time I had read “Chester Cricket’s Pigeon Ride”, and it needed spicing up!  If not for my kids’ sake, then for mine.

Google Maps to the rescue! My  students opened their laptops,logged on, and away we went to New York City!  We went to the section where we could look at actual photos of New York City. We viewed the city using Panoramia, the kids  took a virtual tour of New York City. It made me homesick.:(  They were so excited! As they viewed the photos, they commented on everything. The height of the buildings, how many people there were, the view at night, all those lights! We returned to our list, and I asked the question, “What do you know about New York City?” My list filled up fast.  Google Maps helped my kids go where they had never been without leaving their seats. Hopefully, it will give some of them that urge to travel outside their state as they grow,and  allow them to open their minds to other places.

Anyway, we wrapped it all up with a rousing rendition of “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra using an MP3 download found on, what else, Google! Nothing like a classroom full of 5th graders singing a Frank Sinatra song with their teacher the loudest of all. We had fun! Thank goodness, there’s Google!

Google Maps Webinar – Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Google Maps Webinar=Wednesday, April 13, 2011

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