Thinkers Not Stinkers

This little mantra caught on today. I could see it in their eyes. It started to sound a little like Jeff Foxworthy. You might be a stinker if . . . . So in the middle of the math lesson, my routine went something like this: "If you used dots to subtract, then you're a THINKER! If you counted back, then you're a THINKER! If you used the number line, or counted up, or used pictures, then you're a THINKER!If you used any of these strategies, then you're a THINKER. If you guessed, uuuuuuuhhhhhh I think 2 is good, then you're a STINKER! If you copied off your neighbor, then you're a STINKER! If you sat there doing nothing, then you're a STINKER! If you chose your favorite number, then you're a STINKER! " By the end, everyone joined in the "you're a stinker" part. Let's all be thinkers and not stinkers. Now that's FUN! Don't tell anyone.

Math Test Tie

Today we finished a Math Unit and so it was time for the dreaded Unit Test. I don't like being the bearer of bad news, so I let the students know delicately by wearing my Math Test Tie. Whenever we have a big assessment like this, I sport the tie and students spread the word themselves. As soon as I show up, they pass on the news. "Today is the math test," or, "He has his math tie on, that means there is a test today." Miraculously, we always do excellent on these tests, as long as the correct responses are single-digit answers. Now that's FUN! Don't tell anyone.

Super-Advantage Songtime: My Wife Tried to Kill Me with a Block of Cheese

Every Thursday we have Song Time. We sit on the carpet, sing fun songs, songs with motions, play rhythm instruments, and have an all around, academic, good time. Patricia DeCorsey, coordinator of Lawrence University's Early Childhood Music Program in Appleton says, "By introducing children to music, so many areas of the brain benefit at the same time, like the mathematical and language centers. It's really a super-
advantage." That's why we sing this song:


We use the rhythm instruments with this song. We sing on the verse then everyone bangs on the drums during the "la-la's".  
Now that's FUN! Don't tell anyone.

Bright Ideas

We use bright ideas when it's time to get some very important feedback. I'll get out the stack of light bulbs, especially when it's time to review with a series of questions in a row; to check understanding of steps in a math process, new vocabulary, or information from a topic of study. Obviously, each student has a light bulb with their name on it(the Popsicle stick theory). I'll state, "Let's see who has a bright idea," then proceed with the questioning. "What is a noun?" Then, after shuffling of light bulbs, a light is picked. "Michael?" Michael then answers, "A noun is a word that is a person, place, or thing." I respond, "You have a bright idea!", then give him his light bulb and proceed with the questioning. When the class period/subject is over, everyone with a bright idea is called forward for a reward: caught being good tickets, healthy candy, eraser, free water ticket, etc. Now that's FUN! Don't tell anyone.


Phonics Shootout

There was a shootout today in room #34 of the Ramon Urmston Elementary School Annex: a Phonics Shootout. To practice blending sounds, Sheriff Noname comes to town looking for characters who "was a-lookin' fer him."  Some of the opponents are named Stinky Pete, Burpin Bart, Purty Patty, and Silly Sally. The word for the shootout is stated,  the quickdraws take a shot for each sound in the word, then say the word as they spin and holster their six-shooters. Sheriff Noname then grabs his heart, falls to the ground, gives some sad exclamation like "tell my dawg I'm gonna miss him!", and falls to his death. Then he jumps up and says,"I'm okay!". Now that's FUN! Don't tell anyone.

Coin Flip

Our core curriculum requires daily quick checks to make sure students are acquiring the phonics skill and knowledge necessary to be independent readers. A list of words is given and students are called on to blend and read individual words. To fulfill this requirement, and to lower the anxiety, we play Coin Flip. We form teams. Currently our teams are The Girls and The Boys. Students are given 3 or 4 minutes to study the list and help their teammates. Then, the game begins. We have a coin that was given to us by a retired submarine captain. One side of the coin has a mountain and the other has soldiers. The teams are assigned a side of the coin, raised hands from each team go up, and we flip the coin. Students get a point for each word they blend correctly. Each sound is required then the word. We keep a running score for each six-week unit. At the end of the unit we name a champion. We are  in the sixth week of a unit and the score is tied 55-55. Now that's FUN! Don't tell anyone.