Thursday, July 31, 2008

Quick and Easy Communication Tool

One of my friends and I have a saying.....we like strategies and interventions that are effective and "quick and dirty."

Kate hit a ring dinger because she has one that is effective and cheap and quick and dirty!

Check out her post using Dollar Store key chains for a yes/no communication strategy.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Math Games

I'm tutoring a 4th grade student in math. He understands concepts really well, but has not memorized his basic facts, so that slows him up a bit. Since we're working on his speed and fluency, I've been searching for free online games for him that put a fun aspect to the "drill and kill." I've added them to the links under "Student Games" so you can easily find them again.

Some of these games have versions that are appropriate for many differing levels. Check them out.

Math Mayhem: Basic Facts Add, Subtract, Multiply or Divide

TimezAttack Basic Facts Multiplication (You have to download this one and provide an e-mail address. The basic version is free and the kids really seem to like it.)

Spacey Math: Basic Facts Add, Subtract, Multiply or Divide

Math Arcade at FunBrain: Math Skills all grade levels

Two Minute Warning: Multiply

Primary Games: Lots of Pre-k through 4th games

Cool Math Games

Math Playground

Harcourt Math Games (This one isn't as "arcade" oriented but I like they way it uses the math vocabulary in the problems.)

A Plus Math Games

Explore and have fun!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Anchor Activities

An Anchor Activity is an activity that is readily available in a classroom at all times. Anchor Activities are one of the most important classroom management techniques because they allow for children to be productive after independent work is finished or if the teacher has to attend to something unexpected.

Anchor Activities answer the age old student question, "What can I do now?"

The value of having your Anchor Activities established as a classroom routine, is that students should ALWAYS know the answer to that question. They should ALWAYS know what they are allowed to do if their work is finished or if the teacher has to attend to another situation.

In my classroom, after I decide what activities would be my Anchor Activities, I make a big poster with the words and pictures of the activity. This is posted in my room so that every student can see it. During the first week of school, we review this procedure and practice it so the students know what it means.

The following are some guiding questions that may help you decide what activities you can use as an anchor activity in your classroom:

~ What is the length of time required to complete the activity?
~ Does it require another student?
~ Can each child do it independently?
~ Is it always available?
~ How do students begin and end the activity?
~ Where will students complete the activity?

The following are some Anchor Activities I have used in the past:

~ Read a book
~ Write in journal
~ Do a puzzle
~ Draw
~ Bonus Work: "Bonus work" is extra skill worksheets that I keep in a basket on the counter. I use a Sharpie to write "Bonus Work" at the top and just keep them all together in one stack. Students can pick whichever one they want. I think that reviewing a previous lesson isn't going to hurt anyone. :-) The bonus points are recorded for our treasure box day.

More resources on Anchor Activities:

Best Practices: Instructional Strategies and Techniques

Differentiated Instruction and Anchor Activities

More About Anchor Activities

Vocabulary Anchor Activity

Anchor Activities

6th Grade Anchor Activities

4th Grade Anchor Activities