Tuesday, 24 June 2014 01:54

Teaching Visuals that Help Children Understand Measurement Concepts Featured

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I'm starting to become a bit more active on Pinterest, and I just created a board that contains a series of visuals I use in my classroom to help my students gain a stronger understanding of measurement concepts found in the Common Core Math Standards. I use these visuals in conjunction with a set of engaging story problems so that children are learning about measurement in a real-life context. You can find my Pinterest board at: www.pinterest.com/stevereifman/ or by clicking here. I also just made the measurement story problems available as an inexpensive item on my TeachersPayTeachers page. You can find the item at http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Browse/Search:Steve+Reifman or by clicking here.     
Tuesday, 17 June 2014 00:24

A "2-Minute Biography" of Tim Duncan to Share with Children Featured

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In celebration of the San Antonio Spurs victory in the 2014 NBA Finals, I am sharing a short biography of future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan. This humble superstar from the Virgin Islands is both a top athlete and a wonderful role model for children. The biography is taken from my e-book 2-Minute Biographies For Kids, which you can find on amazon. Because of the biography's "riddle format," you can read it aloud to your child, stop right before the final sentence, and see if your child can identify the featured individual.      Biography Though well-known as a basketball player, this athlete began competing as a swimmer following the lead of his two older sisters. By the age of 13, he set records in his hometown of St. Croix in both the 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle and was thought to be a solid contender for the 1992 Virgin Island…
Saturday, 22 March 2014 00:08

Planting a Seed (A "March Madness"-themed Post) (Teaching Tip #115) Featured

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I'm writing this post about an hour before my University of Virginia Cavaliers take the court for their opening game in this year's NCAA basketball tournament. This has been a dream season for the Cavs, and their incredibly successful regular season pretty much come out of nowhere. In fact, the team only started receiving national attention about a month or two ago after flying under the radar for most of the season. I caught my first glimpse of the team a few weeks ago when we were hosting highly-rated Syracuse and pulled off an impressive upset win. As I watched the action, I was taken aback when the announcer mentioned the name of UVA's first-year guard, London Perrantes.      London was a student in my third grade class ten years ago in Santa Monica, CA, and I was thrilled to discover that he had made it to the highest…
Friday, 14 March 2014 00:54

Add Impact to Your Classroom Lessons Featured

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I recently read a fantastic book that I think has particular relevance for teachers, and I wanted to pass along this recommendation. Chip and Dan Heath's Made to Stick starts with the idea that every day people all over the world are trying to communicate their ideas to others and have them be remembered. These messages, for example, may be advertisements that companies send to consumers, corporate strategy that executives send to their employees, or lessons that teachers and parents present to children. The authors make the point that some messages tend to "stick" with their audience while others don't. Subway's advertising campaign involving Jared, for example, resonated with the American public while its "7 Under 6" campaign was far less successful. To explain why some messages stick and others don't, the Heaths present six criteria of "stickiness." Specifically, they offer six qualities that messengers can use to make their…
Friday, 28 February 2014 01:00

A Wonderful Daily Opportunity Featured

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Every Friday as part of our morning routine, my students and I review the class mission statement we created during the first week of the school year. Because the document is a few paragraphs long, we read and discuss only a small part of it each week. This past Friday morning, we talked about the sentence: "We don’t pay attention only to our work, we also pay attention to everyone’s feelings." As I was listening to the children share their ideas, examples, and interpretations with the rest of the group, something occurred to me, and I volunteered my thought at the conclusion of the activity. I told everyone that unlike people who go to work each day in their individual offices or cubicles and function independently for most or all of the day, we arrive in a classroom where we are constantly in the presence of other people. Of course,…
Friday, 21 February 2014 01:30

Please Welcome My New 31st Student (Tip #114) Featured

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On Super Bowl Sunday, I shared a teaching tip inspired by the Seattle Seahawks' "12th Man" concept. In a nutshell, the fans in Seattle are so loud, have such a powerful presence in the stadium, and give the team such a formidable home-field advantage that it's almost as if the Seahawks have an extra player on the field - a 12th man. I first saw the potential of applying the "12th Man" concept to the classroom a few weeks back while my 30 students were studying fractions. I wanted to call the children's attention to the fact that learning how to find a common denominator was an incredibly important skill to master because it would enable them to add and subtract fractions with unlike denominators, find equivalent fractions, and make comparisons. In short, I wanted to make a big deal out of finding a common denominator. Very dramatically, I announced…
Friday, 14 February 2014 00:37

Use Storytelling to Improve Student Behavior (Tip #113, Part 2) Featured

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In my last post, I described how storytelling can be a wonderful classroom management strategy to use when attempting to address those inevitable situations when many children seem to be struggling with the same behavioral issue at the same time. When telling a story, the key is to feature a student who isn't involved in the incident(s) happening at the time, who experienced something similar in the past, and who overcame that difficulty using an approach that others can emulate. That way, everyone can relate to and benefit from the story's messages, yet nobody feels as if they are being singled out, put on the spot, or made to feel guilty about something they just got caught doing. This approach is non-threatening, and kids can listen to our stories with some emotional detachment. In this post I share an example of how I have used storytelling with my own students. Recently,…
Saturday, 08 February 2014 01:42

Use Storytelling to Improve Student Behavior (Tip #113, Part 1) Featured

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No matter how well-behaved any of our classes might be, inevitably there will be times during the year when many children seem to be going through a rough stretch all at once. Having a bunch of students experience a bump in the road at the same time should not be taken as a reflection of our management skills. It simply means that our students are human. As teachers, we can't predict or control when these ups and downs will occur, but we can control how we respond to them. Over the years, I have learned that when significant numbers of kids are having trouble focusing on their work in class or finding themselves getting into an unusually high number of arguments on the playground, the most effective response is often storytelling. When telling a story, the key is to feature a student who isn't involved in the incident(s) happening at…
Friday, 31 January 2014 00:35

A Super Bowl-Themed Teaching Tip (Tip #112) Featured

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Typically, the Teaching Tips I share on this site feature information and strategies that I have used with my students for many years. Every now and then, however, I like to present new ideas that I'm currently in the process of developing and that are still a bit raw. In these cases I welcome your feedback, and perhaps we can collaborate to strengthen the original idea. This past Tuesday I had a brainstorm, and since this idea happened to connect to the world of professional football, I thought this would be the perfect week to post it. Broncos fans, please don't be alarmed. I come in peace. Though this tip does refer to an aspect of the Seattle Seahawks franchise, I am not promoting one team over the other. (In fact, Peyton Manning is one of my favorite players of all time.) If you follow professional football, you may know…