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Chess Adventures and Girl Power!

An Evening with Grandpa: Adventures in Chess Land

Written by Diana Matlin

This chapter book contains a story that achieves two objectives: it teaches a child how to play chess and presents an engaging fairy tale promoting strong female role models.

Annie is sick in bed with a sore throat. To make matters worse, her family is attending The Nutcracker Ballet and she is stuck home with grandpa. Grandpa sticks his nose in his newspaper. He won’t consider playing one of Annie’ s favorite child games. But once he begins telling her a story about a young girl named Pawnie who is enlisted by the Queen to fight for her kingdom, Annie wants to hear more. Grandpa cleverly reveals how to play chess in the tale about two queens and kings who are battling for control of the kingdom. Grandpa includes all the chess players and carefully details their moves and strategies for winning the battle. The white queen promises that if Pawnie successfully gets to the other side, she will become a princess. Annie is enthralled with the tale and eagerly sets out to learn how to play the game of chess with grandpa.

Matlin keeps the plot moving with clever dialogue and a detailed description of how the chess characters can succeed in winning the game by learning the right chess moves. It is a unique way to introduce children to a challenging game of skill. The chapters are kept short and the print font is large, making it a good choice for beginning and reluctant readers. The strong female role model focus combined with the traditional princess protagonist is a powerful magnet for young girls. Highly recommended for budding chess players and readers in the six to ten age group but a fun read for all.

Barbara Ann Mojica
LittleMissHistory.com

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MOVING MATH FACTS!

MOVING MATH FACTS TO THE NEXT LEVEL

Help your child “step up” to math challenges with a fun game in your very own kitchen. Not only will this help your child learn basic addition and subtraction facts in an engaging way, it will also get her up and moving–with math!

What You Need:
Heavy paper, such as oak tag or construction paper
Marker
Masking tape
Hard floors, such as kitchen tiles

What You Do:
1. Before you start the game, write a complete math fact in large type on one side of a sheet of typing paper. If your child is struggling with early math facts, start with low numbers like 1+2=3. By second grade, however, most kids are working with number facts closer to ten, such as 9+8=17; or with subtraction. Wherever you start, write one math equation on one side of each paper, such as 6+6=12; and write just the question (such as 6+6) on the other side. Make at least 20 facts, and then mix them all up.

2. Set up the challenge: tell your child that her mission, should she choose to accept it, is to cross the room without touching the floor, using only her knowledge of math facts. Tape a square of blank construction paper on one side of the room. This is “start.” Explain that you will show her a math problem, and every one she gets right will become her next “step” allowing her to move across the floor.

3. Stand in front of your child, and show her the question side of the construction paper. If she states the correct answer to the math problem, turn it around and tape down the answer side a good step-width away. Allow her to move one space forward. Guide your child through the problems as needed, so that she doesn’t become frustrated if the math concept is new to her. If your child does not answer the problem correctly, she must stay on the same space. When your youngster gets all the way across the kitchen, she has successfully completed her mission!

In order to keep the Step Game a challenge, try using multiplication or division flashcards as your child advances in math.

This post contributed to Quest Teaching by:
Shannon G.
Community Manager
Education.com

photo credits:
“learn” by Geralt, pixabay.com
“flashcards” contributed with post

Back to School Around the World

A Look at the Back to School Practices Around the World

By mid September most of us are well settled back into the new school year, but returning to school or beginning a new one requires quite a bit of preparation each year.

No matter where you live, back to school involves an interesting set of traditions and practices. Buying back to school supplies in Brazil causes huge inflation. Those who wait to the last minute might see school supply prices rise 500% ! In Holland, many parents drive their children to school on bakfietsen, which are bikes with large boxes over the front wheel to tote kids. Children in Japan have the longest school year in the world at 250 days. Students carry supplies in hard backpacks called randoseru. Inside one will find pencil cases, origami paper and slippers to wear inside the school building. On the first day, many students bring a lunch of rice with seaweed sauce and quail eggs called fudebako, which is supposed to bring good luck. In Germany youngsters carry Schultuete, which are large paper cones filled with school supplies, small presents and sweets. Some of these cones are almost as big as the child. Israeli children bring edible letters coate

d with honey, while the older students release colorful balloons from the school windows to welcome them. The first day of school in Russia is called “Day of Knowledge.” Each child gives a bouquet of flowers to his teacher and receives a balloon in return. Russian students get to know each other well, as they remain in the same class from first to tenth grade. Indian students call their first day, Praveshanotsavam. It involves a gift exchange. Umbrellas are popular gifts, which are most appropriate for the upcoming monsoon season. North Korean students from age five stay together for eleven years wearing government regulation uniforms and studying “Communist Morality.” Their government carefully monitors the program of study for negative influences. Children in Hong Kong don’t need to worry about being late because the government puts on more public transportation services at an earlier time to handle the traffic as a new school year begins. French students consider themselves lucky to have the shortest academic year with two hour lunches, Wednesdays off, and a half day on Saturday.

 

Perhaps even more interesting are some back to school college traditions. At Elon College, an acorn is presented to freshmen. Upon graduation each student receives a small oak tree symbolizing academic growth. At Vassar College, freshmen dorms are invited to compose a song for graduating seniors. While the seniors listen, they cover the composers in condiments like ketchup or chocolate syrup. Georgetown students hold a competition on a mud and food covered quad to determine a king and queen. Reed College students host a noise parade. They yell, play instruments, bang pots and pans, and carry torches while parading though the campus. Female students at Smith College hold a costume competition wearing crazy clothes or nothing at all. Clemson students schedule a pep rally before the first football game which involves creating their own floats, a miniature Rose Bowl parade. Ohio State students turn their fun into a good cause. The Buckeython is a 5K race with a glow in the dark theme to raise money for kids who have cancer.

It does not matter where or whether you attend school, education is a life long experience so reward yourself by learning about something new and get back “into the swing of things.”

Barbara Ann Mojica, Author of the Little Miss HISTORY Travels to….nonfiction book series
Website: http://www.LittleMissHISTORY.com
EMAIL: barbara@littlemisshistory.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/bamauthor
Facebook: www.facebook.com/LittleMissHISTORY

MAKING THE GRADE: Arriving at Quality Level Consensus in Reporting

The move from grade based learning to quality based learning means that we, as educators, need to be consistent in our measures and interpretations of work quality.  A lofty goal for sure, but well worth the undertaking.   Today we’ll explore the challenges and steps to achieving success.

Challenge #1: Experience Needed!

Our curriculum standards tell us what our students need to learn, but provide little guidance as to what the learning should look like.  Perhaps, after many years of teaching the same grade level, a teacher develops a good idea of the appropriate different quality levels of achievement for that grade in any given subject area. The experience of reading many grade three and four narratives over the years, for example, has taught me what to look for, what to expect at this level, and which qualities distinguish good achievement from exemplary. The challenge is , however, that not all teachers have the luxury of remaining in the same grade for several terms in a row.  Teaching assignments are shifted, new teachers are hired, etc. . Let’s be honest. As educators, we come to classrooms with a variety of personalities, experiences and biases. Teachers are as varied at the students they teach.  How, then, can we be sure that we assign quality based grades fairly and consistently?  We definitely need to recognize that we must arrive at consensus about what the “learning should look like” for each subject area and grade level.  If we don’t have a clear picture of what successful learning looks like, how can we ever hope to help our students achieve it? Furthermore, how will we know when they have reached it?

Challenge # 2: Building Bridges of Common Understanding

What do we need to build bridges of understanding so we can arrive at quality level consensus? We need a process; a blueprint for the bridge that will help us all arrive at the same destination.  This process must be actively engaged upon by colleagues with the same intent. Our goal is to provide our students and their parents the assurance that their learning is being evaluated fairly and consistently.  This will give them the confidence to put in the effort that it takes to reach their higher learning goals. We are setting the target before them and letting them know clearly what is expected and exactly how it will be judged. Bridges can’t be built in haphazard ways we must all follow the steps to get the job done so let’s get building.

Step 1: Gather samples of student work in that subject area. Each grade teacher brings several sample of work that they feel best represent quality work. Samples can include any form that shows evidence of learning: journal responses, maps, reports, projects, problem solving, videos of student performances or presentations, computer projects, etc..

Step 2: Dive into the collections! Look at the collections  and work together with colleagues to develop criteria, rubrics with common, yet age appropriate language.  The criteria should provide a clear description of what quality and success look like at each grade level.  How? Try this:

  • Brainstorm
  • Sort the work into categories
  • Make a chart
  • Use it in the classroom. Discuss and revise it. Use again and repeat the process until a consensus is achieved!

Step 3: Create and/or explore the results of common assessments. Using common assessments can also help teachers arrive at consensus of expected levels of quality.  Collecting student work on these tasks then allows teachers to select samples that demonstrate certain aspects of learning in each of the different levels of the rubric. These samples can then be annotated and redistributed to all teachers so they clearly illustrate student capabilities.

Teachers then take the samples and score them on the agreed upon rubrics and then compare their scores to those of other teachers and discuss any discrepancies. If needed, the language of  the rubric can then be adjusted as necessary. This is a process that needs to take place over time to continue to support and develop consistent teacher professional judgement.

To help you get started, pick up these free rubric descriptors and subscribe for more upcoming teacher resources: CLICK HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 4: Analyze the Data! According to our expected levels of quality, how many of our students are achieving success? What does that mean for our instruction?

Now we have a benchmark. If the results of any given assessment in relation to the agreed upon benchmark are surprising we have to ask ourselves important questions that will drive us to improve our instruction and/or assessment tools. What do we need to do more? What do we need to do less? Did we emphasize what we needed to while teaching? Did we clearly communicate the expected levels of learning to our students?  How should we change our approach? In short, we need to use the data to drive our instruction going forward.

Hopefully, these steps have given you food for thought and some practical steps to take in either your school, or at the district level to structure sessions in which you can come together with the common purpose and goal of developing common levels of quality in relation to the expected standards or learning outcomes. Just remember,

Together, Everyone, Achieves, More

Like this post? Sharing is caring. Comment below, tweet, post or have the conversation with your colleagues. We all learn from each other.

Best,

Sharon

 

References:

Herbst, Sandra. “Grading, Reporting, and Professional Judgment in Elementary Classrooms.”Connect2learning. Connect2Learning, n.d. Web. 06 Feb. 2017.