MAT Blog

Halloween Party Ideas to Promote Everyday Math Learning Experiences.

Posted by Dreu Adams on Oct 20, 2011 1:42:00 PM

Halloween parties should be a fun break for students. But having a little structure in place can help teachers prevent their classroom parties from running amok. Elementary school parties can easily combine fun with learning. So today we’re introducing a new Math Halloween game that primes first and second grade students for learning multiplication with skip-counting. It is a game teachers can use year-round, as part of your Everyday Math lessons. And we know you’ll find it an excellent math activity for concrete, hands-on learners.

Our Master Teacher, Christina Bainbridge created this wonderful Math Halloween Party Game that you can download on her blog. It pairs candy with counting. You’ll love that they are practicing math. Children will love that they’re allowed to keep their winnings! 

Marygrove MAT Master Teacher Christina Bainbridge's new Math Halloween gameThe trick to managing a sane Halloween party with a couple of dozen children is assembling work stations. The best treat teachers can give themselves on Halloween is a helpful room parent or two to assist! Have a different craft or activity for every sixth child, so if you have 25 students, plan on roughly four work stations. Make one of them the refreshments table, to avoid a mad dash to the food!

If weather permits, Relay Races are a traditional favorite, and again, are managed easily in small groups. For a fun twist, you can have a Zombie Relay, where children wobble, sway and stumble to the finish. How about a black cat relay, where children compete on all fours? Or a witches relay complete with a broomstick to fly on? Use your imagination, so you can capture theirs.

If you are concerned about too much sugar—and only you can discern what best fits your class, TeachHUB.com has a great blog from Patty Murray about celebrating a healthy Halloween. She suggests turning the focus from sweets to Halloween-themed school supplies such as pencils, erasers or other dollar store finds.

Who says party snacks have to be all candy? Try trail mix with dried fruit and pretzels—forget the nuts—too risky for little allergic ones. Raisins, berries, sliced fruit and dips all offer good alternatives to candy. Give older children a wooden skewer and have them assemble their own fruit kabobs—that’s a good ten minutes of activity right there!

Middle School Students Like Halloween, too

Halloween parties for middle school children are harder to plan, as some students find Halloween childish, and others aren’t ready to let go. Middle school parties are a great way to establish classroom community by simply having some down time to talk with one another, and share ideas.

Why not engage students with an ice-breaker that gets them talking about something content related. How about making a cliché graveyard to work with your writing instruction? It is a fun oral and writing exercise that asks students to identify a list of clichés that they can “bury” all year, and promise to never use in their writing. Phrases such as “not so much” and “at the end of the day” can be written on “tombstones” made of construction paper and posted to a bulletin board.

Simply passing out carmeled apples to older students—children who are accustomed to years of a big production on Halloween— is a thoughtful gesture. We need to wean them slowly! For many age appropriate Halloween learning ideas, check out TeachHUB’s blog on Classroom Activities for any grade. There are some great ones here for older students.

With a little forethought and a lot of creativity, Halloween can be a productive and memorable holiday for children of all ages. Happy Halloween!

Tags: Everyday Mathematics, math literacy, mathematics literacy, Classroom Strategies, Math, math teachers, Christina Bainbridge

Five Tips for Everyday Mathematics Success in your Classroom.

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Oct 18, 2011 4:33:00 PM

Maryrgrove MAT offers five tips from U of Chicago School Everyday Math for program successEveryday Mathematics (EM) is a popular Pre-K through 6th grade mathematics curriculum developed by the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project. The program is reportedly used in over 185,000 classrooms in all 50 states, by almost three million students. In its third edition, the text is printed in English and Spanish.

They describe their own program on their website as “… distinguished by its focus on real-life problem solving, balance between whole-class and self-directed learning, emphasis on communication, facilitation of school-family cooperation, and appropriate use of technology.”

Despite its many strengths, the lack of rote drill is what many teachers still say is perhaps the weakest aspect of the program. So we say, go ahead and incorporate your own rote drill practice, if you choose. Rote drill can be an effective instruction enhancement for many learners. After all, you know your students better than anyone.

EM defines its computation procedure: “Instead of requiring all students to learn the same computation procedure, by rote, at the same time, [EM] aims to make students active participants in the development of algorithms…they are encouraged to invent and share their own ways for doing operations.”

Research from the University of Chicago points to the benefits of students inventing and sharing their own operational procedures:

  • Children are more motivated to solve problems when they have to come up with their own strategy instead of just following a rote procedure.
  • Children with different learning styles are given problem solving options. They may choose to use manipulatives, drawings, oral and written words or symbols to represent and solve problems.
  • When children explain and discuss their own algorithms with other children, they internalize what the operations mean and learn from each other.

The University of Chicago School Mathematics Project Everyday Mathematics website gives some good, solid advice to teachers, from teachers, for achieving success with Everyday Math.

Here are our top five:

1). Get together with your grade level teachers and plan your math year together. You’ll appreciate the moral support, and will find it easier to keep up with pacing.

2). Don’t try to teach every lesson to mastery. All students will not master the same content at the same time. One of the great features of Everyday Math is the “spiral” design that informally introduces topics for two years before actual, formal study. Students have opportunities over time—sometimes over several grade levels— to access concepts and skills.

3). Use a Math Word Wall to enhance daily vocabulary. Everyday Mathematics is language rich.

4). For older children, set up a Math Message Board so that students can find out what they need to do as they enter the room each morning. The message board will keep you on schedule, too, since it forces you to make a plan.

5). Allow your students to experiment—set aside one hour of math game time per week, to practice, practice, practice! Mornings are ideal, as it primes students for math learning later on. Try not to control game time—let students work problems out with each other.

For more excellent resources and ideas on how to facilitate Everyday Mathematics, go to the For Educators page, and check out the right-hand bar.  

Share your math literacy best practices with us on our Linky Party on mathematics literacy, today! What has worked for you?

Tags: Everyday Mathematics, Pre-K-6 Math curriculum, math literacy, math word wall, University of Chicago School of Mathematics

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