Minute-Mysteries are stories that can be solved with close examination of the clues in the story.
Emily and Connall were playing checkers at GG’s house. They played 5 games. Each of them won the same number of games and there weren’t any ties. How could this happen?
John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, was the youngest person elected to the presidency. However, he was the second youngest man to hold the office? How could this be?
On Monday, the teacher asked Teaghan how old she would be on her next birthday. She answered that in two years she would be twice as old as she was five years ago. How old is Teaghan today?
A photographer went for a walk in the woods to take pictures of nature. That was the last time anyone saw her alive. Three days later she was found dead in the woods. The story says that she died because of a pack on her back. What was so deadly about the pack?
Teaching young children to use their words is a well-known educational tool. These 3-words are meant to help kids express their feelings to lessen frustration. Parents and teachers can give children exact words to teach them how to manage new situations.
Kids, parents and grandparents get frustrated when you don’t understand. However, with kids, their emotions can be heightened, and they can’t tell you what the problem is. We must teach them to express themselves. That means giving them direction and model how to express themselves.
3 Strategies to Help Kids Use Their 3-Words
Give kids “feelings” words to use and help them know “what” they are feeling.
Role-play so they can practice how to use their words in different situations.
Practice, Practice, Practice since all situations are not the same.
Finally, I caution you to be careful of what you ask for. You may be surprised to find your child sharing with you their honest opinion. I was told recently, by one of my grandkids, that he “sometimes thought I was mean”. Honestly, I was shocked and felt badly. However, I stepped back and realized that he was expressing his thoughts on my decision not to let him play with a toy. I acknowledged his feelings and once again explained my reasons for saying “No” to his request. I hope he understood my reasoning but realize that may not be the case. In the end, I was happy he had learned to use his words, but I still felt a little badly.
My knowledge of questioning was limited prior to being hired as a teacher of Talented and Gifted students. I vaguely remember hearing something about Bloom’s Taxonomy. But honestly, it didn’t sound important to me at the time. My new position put it front and center of my teaching. However, I was WRONG not to have used it in my prior placements. Good questioning should be in every teacher’s toolbox and used often in both instruction and assessment. It is a great addition to a parents’ toolbox as well.
Most questions are used to ask students to recall and check for understanding. For deeper understanding, we should ask children to apply their knowledge. Often my students could recall the information but could not explain their answers. Most of today’s testing requires students to explain their answers and gives partial credit to validate thinking.
This is an excellent topic for discussion. Therefore, look for future blogs on effective questioning for different age students that will include questioning stems to help in the classroom.
Remember: Being able to recall or recognize ideas and information.
Understand: Understanding the main idea of new information and being able to summarize.
Apply: Applying an idea to solve a problem.
Analyze: Breaking down an idea into parts to help understanding.
Sometimes you just need a magazine with short, easy to read articles on education topics. A resource to share with your colleagues over lunch. A resource that gives ideas to immediately use in your classroom. Two resources that you may want to try are Edutopia and District Administrator.
Edutopia is a magazine that celebrates and encourages innovation in K-12 schools. The George Lucas Educational Foundation publishes this resource for educators. Sign-up on the website is easy. Only available through digital subscription. Get great resources sent to your mailbox each week. https://www.edutopia.org/
District Administration (DA) The most widely received and most regularly read publication for school district leaders nationwide. It is available in print and digital formats. If you are a K-12 district leader you may qualify for a free subscription to the DA print magazine. A digital edition is available on line for free. https://www.districtadministration.com/
This blog is response to a reader for a list of some good reading resources. A tough question because SO much goes into a recommendation depending on what their need is. Recommendations should be based on many factors. Who needs it? For what purpose is the recommendation? What type of reading resources do you need? Are you looking for resources, research, opinions?
The table below is my best attempt at a TOP 5 list. However, please look for future posts on this topic.
TOP 5 Reading Resources
Teachers/Subs Student Teachers
Parents & Grands
Florida Center for Reading Research (FCRR)
Research-based classroom activities developed to improve reading instruction Pre-K through 12th grade. Center Activities includes a Teacher Resource Guide. A Professional Development Video that provides insights into differentiated instruction. www.fcrr.org
A subscription-based digital education program. Geared for children ages 2-6. First month is Free. Games and activities are based on student progress. Many subject areas included. www.abcmouse.com
FREE 1st month
$79 yr. Look for coupons
Starfall is a free public service to teach children to read with phonics. Excellent resources for preschool, K-2, special education, homeschool and ELL’s. Math and music activities are also included. www. starfall.com
FREE with Premium $35.00/yr.
Offers a wealth of reading strategies, lessons and activities designed to help young children read. Support to build fluency, vocabulary and comprehension skills. www.readingrockets.org
Provides access to high quality practices in reading and language arts instruction by offering the very best in FREE materials. Every lesson plan has been aligned to NCTE Standards for the English Language Arts and individual state standards as well. www.readwritethink.org
Last week, my oldest granddaughter excitedly started Kindergarten. We all knew she was ready, but our eyes still welled up when she climbed the bus stairs. She is growing up so fast! So, how did we know? Well, GiGi’s and daughters JUST KNOW but research on behaviors that predict Kindergarten Readiness also gives information to consider.
A report by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) indicates that kids entering kindergarten display a wide range of behaviors. Some of them give kids a big advantage. The study tracked students from kindergarten through third grade, to determine whether some of these behaviors are related to academic performance. They are:
Pays attention well
Persists in completing tasks
Adapts easily to change
Shows eagerness to learn new things
Follows classroom rules
Looking at the list and Little Miss M, a couple of items make us raise our eyebrows but OVERALL, she was ready. Have fun Miss M! School is ready for you!
Research states that reading books aloud to children stimulates their imagination and expands their understanding of the word. It helps them develop language and listening skills and prepares them to understand the written word. But what to do if your child is not interested and it becomes a nightly struggle rather than a special nighttime ritual? Try Picture Walks!
As a K-2 principal I sometimes gave pep talks to parents in ways to engage their child in reading. A simple and easy way to help your child read is to do a “Picture Walk” BEFORE reading an unfamiliar story. “Picture Walks” help children to learn how to preview and make predictions about a book. A “Picture Walk” can last one day or multiple days depending on your child’s interest.
Before you read with your child
Choose a book and read it to yourself first.
While reading, look closely at the illustrations (pictures), the text (words) and the structure of the book (lots of illustrations, words on the bottom/top, rhyming, repetition of words)
Think about what YOUR child will like about the book. (illustrations, characters, ending)
While reading with your child
Model how to read
Look closely at the illustrations with your child and have them talk about what they see. There is no right or wrong answer, just talk about the illustrations.
Point out text features that will help them comprehend the story. (Subtitles, question marks, exclamation points)
Use some of the new words in the story when pointing to the illustrations.
Looking at the illustrations, ask general questions about the story. (Ex: where do you think the story is taking place, who might the story be about?)
Respond to their replies vaguely; rather that they are correct or incorrect. (Use phrases like “I wonder, it looks like, oh maybe, let’s read further)
After reading the book
Review some of the ideas and predictions that you talked about while looking back at the illustrations. This reinforces their thinking and fosters enthusiasm.
Solving mysteries can support critical thinking while having fun
Mystery Luncheons were a regular activity in our school when I was a principal. I invited different grades each day to join me to eat lunch and I shared with them a few mysteries to solve. It was a great time as we all chatted and tried to solve the mysteries.
The object of 1-2 minute mysteries is to solve the mysteries based on clues in the story. The clues are few and very often are not obvious. The mysteries seem impossible to solve until you remember there is something (or more than one thing) that you are making assumptions about.
Steps to Solve:
Read the story slowly.
If you are solving the mysteries with a friend, you can ask questions that can only be answered yes or no. Be sure to phrase the questions vaguely at first? Such as does the solution have anything to do with a specific character, the setting, the time of year, time of day, the weather etc.
Once you realize the answer is not clear, look at the story and think about what the tricks in the story could be:
Most times the trick could be in our assumptions of the 5 W’s. (Who, What, When, Where and Why)
What tricks could be in the story?
Is there something about the sequence of what happened? (what happened first, second or last)
Is there something about the characters? (Their name, the type they are)
Something about the setting? (weather, time)
In the old West a man rides into town on Friday. He stays for three days and leaves on Friday. How can this be?
A father and son are in an auto accident. The father dies and the son is rushed to the hospital in critical condition. The doctor looks at the boy and says, “I can’t work on him, he’s my son.” How can this be?
Donna and Jerry and Howard and Mary all live in the same house. Donna and Jerry go out to a movie, and when they return, Howard is lying dead on the floor in a puddle of water and glass. It is obvious that Mary killed him but she is not arrested. How could that be?
There is a pipe, a carrot and a pile of pebbles together in the middle of a field. Why?
Declan wants to go home, but he can’t go home, because the man in the mask is waiting for him.
Friday is not a day of the week
Some careers have both men and women employed
Howard is not a man
Can you think of something that uses all 3 items?
The man in the mask is not a threat. He is supposed to be wearing a mask.
Answers: (You asked for it, here they are)
Friday is the name of the horse the man was riding on.
The surgeon is the boys mother.
Howard is a fish. He lived in a fishbowl and it had fallen on the floor.
Most students in my talented and gifted classes were highly-abled. At times, these students exhibited traits of giftedness in a subject area. At other times, it may have been their creativeness or problem solving ability. Knowing the characteristics of highly-abled students will help teachers modify curriculum to develop strengths and address student needs.
has an excellent memory
has a large vocabulary
Uses complex sentence structure for their age
reads earlier than peers
demonstrates logical thinking
concerned with social and political issues
asks probing questions, inquiring minds, curious
has original ideas
enjoys and initiates own learning
can concentrate for lengthy periods of time
tends to be persistent and motivated
can be impatient and intolerant
has a wide range of interests
may have an extreme focus in one interest
has a deep knowledge base
often highly sensitive
has sophisticated sense of humor
transfers learning to new situations
makes connections between different activities and ideas
works well independently
enjoys spending time with older students or adults
(Source: National Association for Gifted Children (https://www.nagc.org/)
Support is essential for every child but especially for students with special needs. Because teachers have classrooms filled with students that have many different needs, information is valuable to the learning process. Parents can help teachers by providing information about their child that supports their child’s learning. This communication helps to build a good parent-teacher relationship.
Understood.org- FREE Special Education Resource
Understood.org provides parents of kids ages 3–20 with learning issues a free, secure access to personalized information. Supports are included from experts as well as other parents to help ELL students in the classroom. As a result the site supports a common language for parent/teacher conversations.
A website that supports teachers and families of English language learners (ELLs) in Grades PreK-12. Colorín Colorado has been providing free information, activities, and advice to parents, schools, and communities around the country for more than a decade.
Do you want to know how to get a free pet for your classroom!
This grant provides financial support to purchase and maintain small animals in the classroom. Established by the Pet Care Trust it helps provide children with an opportunity to interact with pets. Caring for a pet gives students an experience that can help to shape their lives for years to come.
How to Apply:
Pet Care is currently accepting applications from teachers in grades Pre-K through Grade 9 for the 2018-19 school year. Private and public schools may apply for the grant any time between August 1, 2018, and June 1, 2019. The classroom grant program is ongoing throughout the year. Prior to applying for the grant, teachers should investigate the school district’s regulations as to which pets are allowed in the classroom.