Sunday, November 11, 2012

Getting rid of paper!

While the job market in education is stalled, at least in my area, I have been blessed to have many substituting opportunities.  The most recent was six weeks in second grade!  It was a fabulous experience!  While there were many highlights, I really wanted to share a couple of my faves with you.

First, there are times when Pinterest can be a lifesaver!  This is one of them.  The way our schedule worked was first bell at 7:45, kids come in get unpacked, listen to morning announcements, and kill two or three minutes before we lined up to go to special area.  Since I hate wasting time, I needed to make that few minutes count for the kids. I could have given them a worksheet, but that is no fun and the kids who got there on time might have seen that as punishment because the late students wouldn't have to do the paper.  Plus it was more paper for me.  I'll get to the paper issue in a minute.  One night I was perusing on Pinterest when low and behold there was a pin showing students writing on their desks!  That was the solution!  I started having the kids fill those two minutes by writing multiples on their desks!  They loved it, no paper for me, and they began getting to class on time!  While they were at special area, I walked around with a rag and spray bottle, checked their work and erased.  Let me add, they used DRY ERASE MARKERS.

More about paper.  This time in math.  The typical routine was watch this funky little animation that came with the math series, do guided practice together.  Then have the kids do independent practice by themselves and turn it in.  Ok, that's more paper for me.  Can you tell I am not a big fan of paper? Plus this routine is not very exciting.  Our academic coach is great about sharing resources with us and we happen to be going over some thinking math strategies in our meetings.  She shared the website NCTM Illuminations with us and it is chuck full of interactive math tools!  One in particular was the pan balance used for teaching equality.  The kids were antsy about that math paper taunting them on the corner of their desk.  They kept asking, "Do I need to write this down?"  I would type a problem into one pan and ask them to give me another problem to put in the other pan so it would balance.  Before long they were adding, subtracting, multiplying, and doing multi-step solutions.  It was amazing! They were so engaged and begging me to give them bigger numbers and harder problems.  Had we done the math paper, they would have been limited to the numbers and ideas presented.  Instead they were able to think bigger and at higher levels.  It was a learning moment for me too. I want as many days as possible to be like that day.  I can't explain the joy I felt watching them be so eager to learn!

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