Names with Numbers

Student numbers…it may sound rather strange, but as many times as it has come in handy. I shall share the idea.

Student lists enter the class alphabetically. Ever after, the teacher is putting their information in alphabetical form.

Once the year has begun, and most late comers have arrived, I assign a number to each child.

Using the alphabetical list of names, I assign beginning with ‘1’ – or ‘001’ for fun.

 

Whenever the child does a worksheet or an assignment, they put their number under their name. That lets me alphabetize them quickly and record their grades on the computer.  If there is a reason I don’t want the name of the children on the paper, I ask them to use their number at the bottom. This helps if I am hanging their papers in the hallway and want a bit of privacy. The number can even be put on the back.

I keep a small jar with circle tags with their numbers. At the beginning of the week, I pull tags out to give turns for answering questions. If asked, I put it back and pull another number. (Sometimes, the child is allowed to go and ask someone for the answer. They then return to their seat and give the answer. They do think that is fun!)

I have a set of ‘mailboxes’ in the room to put papers in that are going home that night. By putting the papers in number order, I can quickly put them in the alphabetized boxes.

 

Numbers are helpful, but I do not forget that using their names is loving.

Creative Thinking. Cinderella Cleans the Fireplace

CREATIVE THINKING

Creative thinking is everywhere – from smart phones to photography – it’s our world and our future!

To insert a little thinking into an age old fairy tale, let’s find out how Cinderella might clean the fireplace.

Cinderella, the fireplace needs cleaning!

         4 Steps to Creative Thinking

Situation

Question

 Guidelines

Results

THE SITUATION  Cinderella’s step-sisters want the filthy fireplace to look good – and fast!

THE QUESTION How many ways can Cindy get a clean-looking fireplace fast?

GUIDELINES Identify sensible answers and/or include fun/fantasy.

RESULTS  As students share ideas, write the key words or icons on the board.         (This gives them time to think of the next idea and honors their ideas.)

Sensible answers may include: – Use a big broom and a bucket of hot soapy water.     – Get lots of rags and scrub!

Imaginative answers may include.   – Ask the birds to go up the chimney with long pieces of cloth.  – Use white paint to cover the dirt.  – Hide the dirt with big flower pots and trailing vines.

NOTE At the end, compare the answers to the question. Some of these results work only if time is not a factor.  By allowing fun answers, better sensible answers are found.

Applications

-Have the students write a story describing how Cinderella cleans the fireplace.

-Draw and label  illustrations of the steps involved.

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Other ideas for Creative Thinking.

Science. Identify ways water is used in our world.                                           History. Find ways for Columbus to deal with a mutiny.                                           Math. What happens if the measuring cups are the wrong sizes?

Real Life. Movies… shoes… vacations… all the many, varied and unusual options, please!

Remember. Use a clear question and set guidelines.                                 Encourage students to use one answer to generate another – it’s called piggy backing.

Note. There will be laughter! –  a sure sign that creative thinking is taking place.  If only sensible answers are needed, remind them the answers must be useful. Silliness can get in the way. You decide.

 

Creative thinking enriches teaching lessons – they make a great review, support other thinking skills, and keep school interesting.

A REVIEW QUESTION. To review the students’ understanding of the Arctic, I asked – What are the many, varied, and unique ways the Arctic would change if the temperature went up ten degrees?  They filled the board with answers!

 

Improve Writing with Student Critiques

 

It can look like a hodgepodge of ideas, but with direction writing improves.

All together - beauty.

 

NOTE: Find a way to put written work up front so all can read along. (In the olden days, I made a transparency and used the overhead. 🙂 )

To begin, I wrote my own piece and put it up– no editing, some proofing.  I casually asked the class to read it.

Then I read it to them and laughed at some of my mistakes. (This was to encourage them not to turn mistakes into ‘I can’t write.’)

 

I then stated that this piece needed some work, and I was going to critique it.

(NOTE: A critique is different from criticism. The purpose of a critique is to discern what is good and why; and what could be improved and why. Criticism, however, does not tend to focus on improvement and can leave a person feeling helpless.)

 

First, I posted a list of sentence stems that pointed toward compliments. After reading them aloud, I used them to talk about my piece.

POST HOW TO COMPLIMENT

“The topic was worth reading because…”

“The title fit the piece because….”

“The beginning was clear/good because….”

“This (phrase, sentence, word) was good because…”

“The ending was clear/good because…”

 

Next, these sentence stems were posted, read aloud and applied to my writing.

POST HOW TO IMPROVE

“The topic needed to be…. (clearer, more interesting, more focused) …because…

“The title didn’t fit the piece because…”  “I think that this title is better…”

“The beginning would be better if…. because…”

“If you add this (word, phrase, sentence) it will be better/more interesting because…)

“The ending would be better if…. because….”

At this point, I rewrote my piece with everyone watching and my talking my way through the update. (Students did not do this when they had their turns.)

After the next class writing activity, I asked if anyone wanted to critique their own paper. As a guideline, only three compliments and one improvement was allowed. (This was to encourage their willingness to share.)

As their comfort level increased, they were allowed to critique each other’s writing pieces. But only if! the student who wrote the piece, asked for class input.

 

VIGNETTE. Elise’s work was short and plain. As she listened to the other students’ critiques, I noticed that her writing was improving.  One day, she excitedly raised her hand and volunteered her paper.  She said, “I want to hear what is good about my paper, and get some help to make it better.”

Elise, you made my day!

 

1 Week = 1 Writing Assignment

At the beginning of the school year, students need time to process their thoughts so they can write them down.                   As the year progresses, they’ll have time during the week to find quotes or research information to enrich their work.

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MONDAY   Introduce the topic. Discuss it. Read aloud from books with that information. Show a video! Show images from the Internet! Fill their thoughts with ideas!  As you share, have them identify vocabulary words.  Post this list.

TUESDAY  Ask the students to give phrases that enrich the vocabulary. Record their phrases on the board.   (‘Tree’ might become ‘a forest of oak trees’)      Have the students suggest sentences. Write them down.

WEDNESDAY   Opening and closing sentences. Have the students look over the vocabulary and writing ideas and identify a main idea. Create opening sentences with them using that idea. Have them copy one or create their own opening sentence. LEAVE A SPACE/LINE FOR A TITLE! (For a younger group, have one opening sentence and everyone copies it.)

Discuss the role of a closing sentence. (It helps the reader know that you are done writing.)  It usually relates to the opening sentence.  Have the class suggest some examples. Write them on the board. They do not write/copy one yet!

THURSDAY   Talk about the topics they might use. They pick their favorite sentences – or write their own – and copy them after their opening sentence. Have the students choose and write a closing sentence – or write their own.

FRIDAY    Identify titles.  Because they have chosen their own sentences, their titles may be different. Have them read their sentences and then have class help the reader to decide a title. List different suggestions on the board.  Now, have them write the title. Some children can make a final copy.  Others may ‘fix or finish‘.  Anyone who is done early, can draw an illustration or read the related materials you made available. (Let them share new ideas that they find out.) (NOTE There were times when a student was allowed to make a final copy at home and illustrate it. Be sure you have a copy before it goes out the door. 🙂  )

NOTE   Because so much of their work is being copied each day, encourage the students who are done quickly to add their own sentences.  Have them share their results with a partner who is doing the same thing. Partners are someone of their own ability level.

As weeks go by, the writing pattern becomes clearer.  Encourage using their own vocabulary and sentences. With the repetition of the same pattern and enrichment from sharing their sentences and the related materials, you will produce a classroom of grand writers.