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?
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!
Earlier this month I presented at a Professional Development Day for Head Start teachers on Early Numeracy. We touched on a concept that certainly could fill an entire day, “Math Walks”. This is a great teaching strategy that can be effective from toddlers through adulthood. If you look around the room or through the window, math concepts are everywhere. I promised my Head Start colleagues that I would post a cheat sheet on “Math Walk” basics. So here you go Head Start friends, have fun!
What is a “Math Walk”?
A “Math Walk” is a planned walk with sites along the way to show students math concepts. It encourages students to ask and answer questions. It’s an opportunity to take kids out of the classroom to “see” math. It is an active learning strategy to keep kids moving and of course talking!
Top 10 Benefits of Math Walks
Can be done anywhere, anytime and with anyone
Easy to prepare
Opens children’s eyes to the world around them
Helps kids see and understand math concepts
Gets kids actively learning
Gives multiple opportunities to solve problems
Encourages communicating thoughts and ideas
Builds confidence and a willingness to try
Can be tailored to meet children’s abilities
Promotes FUN in learning!
“Math Walks” give students and teachers opportunities to see and talk about math terms in everyday conversations. Start a checklist using the following terms and see how many you use during your walks.
Depending on students’ interests and abilities, questions can be prepared to discuss counting, number sense, measurement and geometry. Open-ended questioning gives students opportunities to solve problems and develop language. The possibilities of “Math Walks” are endless.
Geometry & Measurement
Can we find any shapes in the buildings? Squares, rectangles etc.
Can you name the shape?
Do you see any shapes in the buildings, ground, cars that pass by?
Do you see any patterns?
How tall is the tree?
How can we measure an item?
Number Sense and Counting
How many windows do you see in our classroom?
Can you find an object that is approximately one foot long?
Estimate which item is bigger, smaller, shorter, taller
Can you find a specific number of things? Ex. Three windows?
TRY THIS NOW: Sample Math Walk: Take a look at the photo in this blog.
Estimate how many small mailboxes there are?
How many mailboxes are there all together?
Look at each mailbox, are there any other shapes on the box? What shapes are there?
Is the circle bigger than a quarter, dime, nickel or penny?
Do you see any other Math symbols on the mailbox? What do you see?
How many columns are in the structure? How many rows?
How many mailboxes are in each column? Row?
What shape is each mailbox? How do you know?
What size is the mailbox? Can you measure it?
What is the shape of all the mailboxes added together in each column? Row?
Tell me something is taller than each mailbox? Shorter?
Are all the mailboxes together taller than you? Shorter than you? Taller/shorter than mommy?
Teachers: Don’t forget to add “Math Walks” to your plan books
“Math Walks” are not an “extra” in your lesson planning. “Math Walks” meet important NCTM Process Standards.
Recognizing and applying mathematics
Communicating mathematical thinking
Analyzing and evaluating the mathematical thinking of others
Making and using connections among mathematical ideas
Finally, one of the keys to creating a positive learning experience is motivating students. Try a “Math Walk” today and “see math” through the eyes of your students. Enjoy the walk!
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.
September and the start of school has always inspired me to buy new school supplies. Recently, I found the 101 Best Book List created by researchers at the Curry School of Education which is a great list to start your classroom library. The choices are based on readability, length and including different types of genres.
Books don’t have to be new to be enjoyed Because books are expensive start your search at garage sales, books sales and used book sales at your local library. Dutchess County friends, take a road trip to the Poughkeepsie Library on Boardman Road. Their bookstore has great buys. I recently bought 10 Early Reading (Levels 1 and 2) books for $2.64. That’s 25 cents a book! It’s clean, organized and a friendly group of volunteers. Worth a visit. http://poklib.org/friends-of-ppld/book-store/
I have retyped this list to make it user-friendly when shopping for books. Happy Shopping!
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/)
As requested by some attendees at the Astor Services Head Start on the September 14th conference day, the link below is a repost of a Reading presentation that I gave last year to the Astor Education committee.
The presentation outlines the importance of literacy in Childhood Education. It includes both research and strategies to include in literacy instruction. The differences between phonological and phonemic awareness is highlighted. The pros and cons of the Common Core standards is also included for discussion.
As requested by some attendees at the Astor Services Head Start on the September 14th conference day, the link below is a repost of a presentation that I prepared for the Astor Education Committee in May, 2017.
Many preschool students understand numeracy. However, they probably don’t know the vocabulary. Creative Curriculum gives teachers many new terms to use. The “Go slow to go fast: Learning about math is neither short-term nor rote” presentation reminds teachers that learning takes time.
Thank you Astor friends for inviting me to your Professional Development Day.
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.
Is reading to young children important to you? If your answer is YES!, perhaps the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten Program is a good goal for parents and preschool teachers.
Research shows that as many as one in five children have trouble learning to read. As a result, reading has been linked to academic success. Unfortunately, formal school does not usually start until ages 5-6. Therefore, parents and preschool teachers take on the important role of being first teachers to children. The 1000 Books Before Kindergarten challenges parents and preschool teachers to read 1000 books to young children before they enter Kindergarten.
Welcome to the 2nd month of threeringsconnections.orgMonthly Math Enrichment Problems post, Each month I post some Math Enrichment problems for grades 2-3. I hope you will find them useful with your students in class or your kids at home.
Don’t forget to use 1 of your 6 problem solving strategies
Draw a picture
Guess and Check
Use a table or list
Find a pattern
Working backwards (try a simpler version first)
Problem Solving – Here we go!
On a baseball team, Chris, Jerry and Matt each played one of three positions of pitcher, catcher and second baseman, though not necessarily in that order. The second baseman, playing his first season with the team, had the lowest salary. Chris, who along with Jerry had played two seasons with this team, earned more than the pitcher. Who was the pitcher?
Declan wants to swim 20 yards out into the ocean. He swims out 5 yards in 4 seconds but then in one second a wave pushes him back 2 yards. If this cycle continues, how long will it take Declan to get 20 yards out for the first time, even if only for an instant?
A group of 63 students went to the museum. Some students took the bus, the rest went by car. If 41 students took the bus and 3 students rode in each car, then how many cars were needed?
Lowyn likes to celebrate her birthday for a whole week. On the first day she eats one cookie. On the second day she eats 2 cookies. This continues on until the seventh day when she eats 7 cookies. How many cookies did Lowyn eat that week?
Doug spent $44 This is twice as much as Kelly and Marian spent together. Kelly spent $9. How much did Marian spend?
61 + 12 = __ – 7 Find the number that belongs on the line.
If 40 – 6 = Q, how much is 45 + Q
Matt is the pitcher. Neither Chris nor Jerry played second base (it wasn’t their first season). Matt played second base. Chris earned more than the pitcher so he’s not the pitcher, Matt is.
The answer is 29. Every 5 seconds he gains 3 yards. After 25 seconds he is 15 yards out. In 4 more seconds he will be 20 yards out for the first time (even if only for an instant).
The answer is 8. 63-41=22. If 3 students traveled in each car, there were 8 cars. 7 cars had 3 students for 21 total and an 8th car was needed for the 22nd student.
The answer is 28. 1+2+3+4+5+6+7=28
The answer is $13. Half of $44 is $22. Since Kelly spent $9, then Marian had to spend $13 to equal $22.
80 goes on the line. 61 + 12 = 73 and 80 – 7 = 73
Q = 79.
Don’t forget to check in NEXT MONTH for more Enrichment Problems