Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tuesday Teacher Tips - April 30, 2013 - Sumdog, Jacques Cousteau, Testing Motivators & 7 Steps of Story Telling

These were the Tuesday Teacher Tips I sent out to my teachers today.  A bit of a random collection of fun ideas for sure.
Click on underlined text to open links

Sumdog—engage students with math games

Sumdog has been on my “To Find Out About” list forever, and when our very own Miss Leftin, tried it out and gave rave reviews, I figured I shouldn’t wait until this summer to find out more about it.

The site, which is aligned to the Common Core, seems like an engaging way for students to practice math and compete against the computer or live with others.  As their teacher, you can set the levels for them to practice, and the site automatically adjusts to their ability level based on correct/incorrect responses, so that all students have a chance to experience success.  As students answer questions correctly, they earn coins, which can be spent in the game’s store to make improvements to their very own game avatar.

Sumdog allows teachers to create a free login.  Your students can play math games, you can set up or join your school (Miss Leftin created our school code—JES1), you can create free student logins, monitor your students live, run 10 progress reports and create 5 activities.  There is the option to subscribe for a premium account for $2 per student or a Math & English account for an introductory $4 per student.
Jacques Cousteau - from Wikimedia.org
Manfish: the Story of Jacques Cousteau
Need a biography read aloud that has connections to science & invention?  Check out Manfish: the Story of Jacques Cousteau by Jennifer Berne.
The story is an engagingly illustrated narrative of Cousteau’s life.
As an extension, follow up with the Cousteau Collection a free iPad/iPhone app that allows you to access the Cousteau Archive.  Download it now, because for the next seven weeks, until May 9th, they’re giving away Cousteau Red Hats;)  The app does require you to purchase “trading cards” so that you can view facts about Costueau’s accomplishments, but you get a free pack for signing up.
You may also want to check out the History of Cousteau’s Movie Camera for information about how he began underwater filming –or check out the English  YouTube channel on Cousteau.
Testing Motivators
Want to do something special for your kids during state testing?  Check out these cute ideas at the Fourth and Ten blog.  I love the “You are One Sharp Student” pencil idea.  Or how about these cute notes from Classroom Freebies. Print, cut and pass out to your class.  Here are a few more cute ideas from Primary Possibilities—I’m a fan any time you can give away blow pops, and this site has the perfect idea.
Every brain needs a break, so when the day’s testing session is over, you may want to check out some of these ideas for a reward:
· Create a class Harlem Shake video—just download the app and you’ll be a total rock star.  The app is free, but you have to pay to be able to save the video to your camera roll (I have the app and can help with this!)
· Give me a Brain Break by Barbara Gruener includes links to many different ideas
· Or check out my Brain Breaks YouTube playlist—featuring such classics as: Kung Fu Fighting, The Sid Shuffle, Boom Chicka Boom, and Super Mario Gangham Style
Seven Steps to a Perfect Story
I saw this late last week on Pinterest and had to share.  Seven Steps to a Perfect Story is an awesome graphic that could help students if they’re stuck writing.  
The graphic walks students through 7 steps of choosing the pieces of plot that will help them write.  In the first step they look at an overview of the story to understand it.  In the second step, they choose their plot type (overcoming the monster, rags to riches, the quest, etc).   In the third step, they choose their hero (unwilling, anti-hero, tragic, etc).  For step four, they choose the rest of their characters and are in step five are encouraged to observe the rule of threes (three stooges, three little pigs etc).  In step 6, which is an interesting addition, students are encouraged to choose their “media” - be it dance/performance, traditional storybook, video, digital story, song etc), and step 7 is the golden rule. 
The graphic follows a modified archetype structure that is very traditional in story telling and can help students to organize their thoughts and you could easily use it as inspiration for a writing lesson or prewriting exercise.





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