Thursday, August 28, 2008

Today we started our "Things That Come in Groups" math unit. This math unit focuses on the development of multiplication and division skills. Today we began our unit by brainstorming "things that come in groups." Some of the ideas that the students came up with were: wheels on a tricycle, fingers on a hand, socks in a pair, eggs in a carton, triplets, and sides on an octagon. The students use this information to make story problems such as "Miss Russell bought 3 cartons of eggs. Each carton has 12 eggs. How many eggs does Miss Russell have?" When asked to solve this problem, many students used an addition equation such as 12+12+12 to solve. The concept of multiplication was then introduced. We think of multiplication as "groups of" things. This problem could be represented with the following multiplication equation 3x12=? In class, I discourage the use of ambiguous terminology such as "times." For this equation we say 3 "groups of" 12. Using the phrase "groups of" gives a more concrete understanding of multiplication. It also allows students to create a mental picture of the problem in order to solve, in case they get stuck. The students caught on to this concept very quickly today and they were excited to hear that they were solving multiplication problems. I love this unit and can't wait to see what awesome ideas the kids will come up with next!

-Miss Russell :)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Free Rice

One of my very favorite websites is This website is great for both kids and adults! On this website you can improve your vocabulary, grammar, math and geography skills. For every correct answer, a donation of 20 grains of rice is made to needy areas around the world. This website is so addictive. Also, what is better than giving your brain a workout AND helping people in need. How cool!

-Miss Russell :)

Science Happenings

This week in science we are kicking off the school year by reviewing the "Science Process Skills" that scientists use when they investigating events or places. The "Science Process Skills" have reviewed include some of the following:

  • observing
  • classifying
  • estimating and measuring
  • inferring
  • predicting
  • making and using models
  • forming questions and hypothesis
  • investigating and experimenting
  • collecting data
  • interpreting data
  • communicating

We have done many fun "lab stations" to investigate these different process skills. We've have made paper airplanes (investigating and experimenting), we have estimated the volume of a ball of clay (estimating and measuring), we even made music with water-filled plastic bottles (forming questions and hypothesis). Another lab station was for the students to make a small example of a lever. A lever is a simple machine that helps make work easier. This lab station left a lot of kids questions "What is the purpose of this simple machine in real life?" I could tell they weren't believers when I told them it makes work easier. So I proved it to them. I started by asking if they thought they could pick me (the teacher) up off the ground. They unanimously answered "no." I set up a wooden plank (bar) and brick (fulcrum). Eventually, after some experimenting, the students were able to set the fulcrum close to the load (me), I stood on that end and a small girl stood on the other side of the wooden plank. She was able to lift me off the ground using this simple machine! After the wide-eyed stares and "oohs" and "ahhs," I think you could say I had 33 believers in simple machines. This week has been fun in science and I believe it will set the tone for the rest of the year. I can't wait for more wide-eyed stares, "oohs" and "ahhs" this year in science.

-Miss Russell :)