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The Common Core Curriculum Cleaning: Don’t Throw Out Everything!

 Posted by on March 25, 2015  Common Core  Comments Off on The Common Core Curriculum Cleaning: Don’t Throw Out Everything!
Mar 252015
 

When looking at the Common Core, it can seem as if our entire curriculum needs to be thrown out in favor of new materials and methods.  It is easy to see all of the differences the Core presents when compared to our current instruction, and it can be overwhelming to consider all of the changes that need to be made.  But, wait!  Before you say out with the old and in with the new, take a moment to look for pieces in the Core that are familiar and can be taught with your existing methods and materials.

For example, there are ELA standards at 3rd, 4th,and 5th grade that focus on main idea:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.3.2
Determine the main idea of a text; recount the key details and explain how they support the main idea.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.4.2
Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.5.2
Determine two or more main ideas of a text and explain how they are supported by key details; summarize the text.

Finding the main idea is an important skill you already teach in your classroom and can continue doing so to meet these Core standards.  While the Core shifts focus from teaching skills to teaching concepts, students still need to know what a main idea is and how to find it before they can start applying that knowledge to the literature they read.

ladders

This StarrMatica practice activity can help students practice discriminating between a main idea and supporting details.

Firefighter

 

 

newspaper

The StarrMatica activity encourages students to write a newspaper headline that will tell the main idea of an article.

Newspaper Headlines

 

There are also ELA standards at 3rd, 4th,and 5th grade that focus on context clues:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.3.4
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, distinguishing literal from non-literal language.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.4
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including those that allude to significant characters found in mythology (e.g., Herculean).

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.5.4
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes.

Before students can comprehend and analyze a text, they need to be able to identify the meaning of unknown words.  This is another skill you were already teaching in your classroom that can be continued to meet these Core standards.

StarrMatica’s learning animations teach students how to find Synonym Clues, Definition Clues, Contrast Clues, Experience Clues, Example Clues, and Explanation Clues to figure out the meaning of an unknown word.

lilies

This StarrMatica activity then encourages them to use what they have learned to determine the meaning of new words.

Leaping Lilies

 

Some tried and true teaching methods and resources are tried and true for a reason.  They teach timeless skills and should remain in your classroom as an important, effective part of your Common Core instruction.

Web Tools to Help Your Students Shine

 Posted by on March 19, 2015  Content Recommendations  Comments Off on Web Tools to Help Your Students Shine
Mar 192015
 

notebookWhen you give students options of ways they can demonstrate their learning, does your list include digital resources for your tech-savvy students?  Here are five ways you can engage students in sharing their knowledge using online digital tools.  All of the tools shared are free to use, yet some require sign-up if you want to save student work.

  • Students can design a newspaper, brochure, flyer, poster, or sign to demonstrate their knowledge about any topic that requires a visual presentation–think character studies, state reports, environmental issues.

http://www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/interactives/Printing_Press

  • Students can upload a photo or create an avatar and make it talk by recording their voice to make its mouth move.  This resource is perfect for biographical presentations.  Imagine George Washington telling the class about his life!

http://blabberize.com/swf/blabberc.swf

http://vhss-d.oddcast.com/vhss_editors/voki_editor.swf?acc=37533&sc=0&doc=http%3A//vhss-d.oddcast.com/php/vhss_editors/getrandomvoki/partnerId%3D16%26configId%3D6%26rnd%3D7&gMode=3&partnerId=16&cid=6

  • Students can create a postcard about a place they would like to travel to demonstrate their knowledge about a specific geographic location or a specific culture.

http://www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/interactives/postcard

  • Students can create animated stories for creative writing or as book reports.

http://zimmertwinsatschool.com/movie/create

http://domo.goanimate.com/studio

  • Students can add photos, video, notes, and documents to a blank canvas.  This resource can be used in every subject anytime a visual presentation is required.

http://en.linoit.com

  • Students can create their own online illustrated stories just like a professional author!

https://www.littlebirdtales.com

http://www.clpgh.org/kids/storymaker/embed.cfm

http://www.artisancam.org.uk/flashapps/picturebookmaker/picturebookmaker.php?PHPSESSID=9225166a1ad1eced34b763379f64cdc9

Digital Content for Common Core Standard 4.MD.C.6

 Posted by on February 25, 2015  Common Core  Comments Off on Digital Content for Common Core Standard 4.MD.C.6
Feb 252015
 

One of the most common questions we are asked is how our library of digital content supports the Common Core.  The easy answer is that our entire library has been aligned to the Common Core standards, so teachers can find resources related to each standard.  The more complex answer is that there are many pieces of content that can be used in flexible ways to support each individual standard, and it is up to teachers to choose the content that best supports their lesson and their students.

Here are five pieces of digital content a teacher might choose from our library to support and enhance the teaching of: CCSS.Math.Content.4.MD.C.6

Measure angles in whole-number degrees using a protractor. Sketch angles of specified measure.

angles tutorialMeasuring Angles Animation

A teacher could use this animation with students on laptops/tablets/Chromebooks or an interactive whiteboard to review how to use a protractor to measure an angle.

 

angle explorerRandom Angle Explorer

A teacher could use this activity to challenge students to estimate the measurement of a random angle and then to measure the angle to check their estimate.

 

drawing angles animationDrawing Angles Animation

A teacher could use this animation with students on laptops/tablets/Chromebooks or an interactive whiteboard to review how to draw an angle.

 

whats my angleWhat’s My Angle?

A teacher could use this virtual manipulative with students on laptops/tablets/Chromebooks or an interactive whiteboard in many different ways.  Students can create angles, estimate the measurement of angles, and measure angles.

super golfSuper Math Golf

A teacher could use this game to challenge students to use angle and distance estimations to score a hole in one!

Common Core Math Shift: Manipulatives and Technology Enhanced Items

 Posted by on February 17, 2015  Common Core  Comments Off on Common Core Math Shift: Manipulatives and Technology Enhanced Items
Feb 172015
 

This is the fifth in a series of posts dedicated to helping teachers understand specific changes the Common Core requires them to make in their instruction and sharing how StarrMatica’s content can help facilitate that transition.  The first four posts can be viewed here, here, here, and here.

One of the major Common Core Math shifts is that students will be required to use manipulatives and other technology enhanced items to demonstrate mathematical concepts.  One way to assist students with concept development is to help them visualize abstract concepts with manipulatives.  Manipulatives can be anything from hundreds charts to number lines to decimal squares—anything that helps students to visualize mathematical concepts.  An obvious example is base-ten blocks. These virtual manipulatives allow students to visualize the “sizes” of numbers indicated by their places in our number system. 

Manipulatives also help students to understand the concepts behind mathematical procedures such as using base ten blocks to illustrate “regrouping” in a multi-digit addition or subtraction algorithm.  Manipulatives give students a concrete visualization to hold in their minds when they are computing to understand what is really happening mathematically.  Using a variety of manipulatives in your classroom allows students to choose a tool that works best for them.  

In addition to traditional manipulatives, you should also expose your students to virtual manipulatives.  There are hundreds of online manipulatives available which provide you with a variety of instructional options that would be cost prohibitive with traditional manipulatives.  Virtual manipulatives may have added features that bring value to your demonstration, and they may be used to help students learn through inquiry by providing teachers with easily adjustable visual tools.  Students can test their ideas, explore the effects of changing variables, and formulate theories based on results.

Virtual manipulatives provide value in their accessiblity on interactive whiteboards, tablets, laptops, or Chromebooks at school and at home.  Virtual manipulatives are used on both the PARCC and Smarter Balanced Assessments.  Students are asked to drag fractions to the correct locations on a number line or to draw a rectangle with a specific area.

It is important that your students have experience demonstrating their understanding with these types of online tools so that during the assessment, lack of understanding about how to use the tool doesn’t get in the way of them successfully showing their mathematical knowledge.

In StarrMatica’s library, teachers have access to hundreds of virtual manipulatives for ELA, Math, Science, Social Studies, Art, and Music.  Many Math manpulatives also include content guides–lesson plans for using that manipulative to meet specific Common Core Standards.

Common Core Math Shift: Mathematical Concepts

 Posted by on January 27, 2015  Common Core  Comments Off on Common Core Math Shift: Mathematical Concepts
Jan 272015
 

This is the fourth in a series of posts dedicated to helping teachers understand specific changes the Common Core requires them to make in their instruction and sharing how StarrMatica’s content can help facilitate that transition.  The first three posts can be viewed here, here, and here.

One of the major Common Core Math shifts is that students will be required to demonstrate an understanding of mathematical concepts.  Perhaps the most obvious example of being able to “do the math” without understanding the underlying concept is a student’s ability to correctly add two numbers in a multi-digit addition problem with re-grouping and arrive at the correct answer without being able to explain why they are regrouping.  

Here is an example of a former standardized test question paired with a Smarter Balanced Assessment question.

  • Previous Standardized Test Question: What is 23.46 rounded to the nearest tenth?
  • Smarter Balanced Assessment Question:  Five swimmers compete in the 50-meter race. The finish time for each swimmer is shown:  23.42  23.18  23.21  23.35  23.24  Explain how the results of the race would change if the race used a clock that rounded to the nearest tenth.

Both questions are ultimately asking students to round decimals; yet they are distinctly different.  In the first question, if the student knows a rounding procedure, they can find the answer.  The second question requires students to think about the implications of rounding decimals and to explain how this concept is applicable in a real life situation.

The first step for many teachers in the concept building process is leading students to develop their own number sense and mathematical reasoning.  Ask your students to share ways they would group a set of 23 objects to make them easier to count. (Instead of telling them to group by tens and ones.)  Ask your students to share what strategy they would use to mentally subtract 82-64 (Instead of showing them the algorithm.)  Challenge your students to figure out how 3 friends would share 4 cookies equally.  (Instead of telling them what a fraction is.)

This type of instruction takes careful planning of a series of properly sequenced varied experiences paired with strategic questioning and opportunities for meaningful distributed practice.  Once a concept is developed, students should be able to explain their thinking by constructing viable arguments in mathematically precise language.

Digital Content for Common Core Standard 3.G.A.1

 Posted by on January 21, 2015  Common Core  Comments Off on Digital Content for Common Core Standard 3.G.A.1
Jan 212015
 

One of the most common questions we are asked is how our library of digital content supports the Common Core.  The easy answer is that our entire library has been aligned to the Common Core standards, so teachers can find resources related to each standard.  The more complex answer is that there are many pieces of content that can be used in flexible ways to support each individual standard, and it is up to teachers to choose the content that best supports their lesson and their students.

Here are five pieces of digital content a teacher might choose from our library to support and enhance the teaching of: CCSS.Math.Content.3.G.A.1

Understand that shapes in different categories (e.g., rhombuses, rectangles, and others) may share attributes (e.g., having four sides), and that the shared attributes can define a larger category (e.g., quadrilaterals). Recognize rhombuses, rectangles, and squares as examples of quadrilaterals, and draw examples of quadrilaterals that do not belong to any of these subcategories.

Pattern Blocks pattern blockShape Tool

A teacher could use this virtual manipulative with students on an interactive whiteboard and choose relevant shapes to start a discussion about how one shape can have different names. (square, quadrilateral, polygon, parallelogram)


classification

Exploring Shape Classification

A teacher could use this activity to challenge students to sort shapes into four different diagrams based on their characteristics. (Choose the Shape Classification Tab.)

 

carrollCarroll Diagram Shape Sort

A teacher could use this activity with students to encourage students to think about multiple categories a shape could belong in as they sort shapes into a Carroll Diagram.

 

shape guessShape Guess

A teacher could use this activity to challenge students to find all of the shapes that match the given characteristic.

 

 

classifyingClassifying Polygons

A teacher could use this resource to challenge students to sort shapes into a triple venn diagram without knowing the categories.  Then students are asked to figure out the categories.