Monthly Archives: May 2016

Friends of Ten!

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Tonight with my Year 1 tutoring student, we worked on our Tens Facts. Again. It feels like we are ALWAYS working on our Tens Facts…because they don’t seem to sink in!

We’ve played:

Ten Pairs – deal out a 4×5 array of playing cards, keep dealing until all cards are gone. Players take turns to pick up 2 cards that add to ten.

Concentration – similar to Ten Pairs, but cards are turned over to remember where cards are.

Roll to Ten (colour) – roll a die, colour in that many squares on a tens frame using one colour…then count on to get to ten. Colour the squares that you ‘counted on’ using a different colour, then write the equation.

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Roll to Ten (build) – roll a die, build a tower using blocks that many blocks high of one colour…then count on to get to ten using a different colour block. Write the equation.

10 Frame Fill (app: free) – helpful for creating an interactive visual for ‘How many more to make 10’ and focusing on 10s facts.

While all of these ideas were good, there was no urgency to build on the accuracy and fluency of these skills, so she was dawdling her way through our activities.

So, today we drew a Tens Rainbow, to use in conjunction with a fabulous app I found, called ‘Make Ten‘. It asks students to choose the number you need to add to the number given to get to 10. My student propped this rainbow up in front of her to use with the app and by the 4th or 5th round, she was actually recalling the facts herself to try and beat her high score and going faster.

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Technology isn’t always the answer, or the be-all-and-end-all, but if you’re aiming for speed/fluency – this really helped today!

I also found this Pinterest board for some more ideas – always looking for more!

I would love to hear your ideas for Friends of Ten!

Struggling readers

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Today I used phoneme unifix blocks to help a Year 5 student with initial & final blends. It was a struggle for her and required a lot of repetitive oral language cues. Simply reading through the collection of initial blend blocks brought about an uncomfortable posture as she confidently read ‘ch’ and ‘tr’, but recoiled at the sight of ‘gl’ and ‘sw’.

She can read, but not to the level of her classmates, but her spelling is in a whole other realm. The words below are by no means tricky; we were just experimenting with a range of blends!

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Then I came across this infographic, which I found delightfully interesting – I thought you might too!

Inside the Brain of a Struggling Reader: infographic

See the original infographic at http://www.scilearn.com/blog.

Mnemonics for struggling spellers

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When I first started teaching, I knew very little about mnemonics. I was a brilliant speller from an early age (my mother still has my Prep spelling book as proof), so I never needed to learn spelling mnemonics.

I soon learnt about ‘hear’ – “You hear with your EAR” and ‘friend’ – “FRIday ENDs the school week”.

For the words ending in ‘IGHT’, there was ‘Indians Go Hunting Together’ and for ‘because’, there’s either “Big Elephants Can Always Understand Smaller Elephants” or “Bunny Eats Carrots And Uncle Sells Eggs”.

But as we all know, homemade is more nutritious than takeaway – aka: it will be more meaningful if the students make their own mnemonics.

So, here is what my Year 3 tutoring student and I created for some of his tougher spelling words:

wanted: “Water And Nuts Taste Extremely Disgusting”…or I also like to tell him that the ANT wANTed to eat him.

fairy: “Football And Icecream (are) Really Yummy”

scared: I am sCARed of fast CARs

beautiful: BE A yoU tiful person

No electronics required, just brain power. However, wouldn’t it be cool to make a class book/dictionary with all the different spelling mnemonics (I’m thinking ChatterKids + Book Creator…)

I’ve also been using the Spellosaur App on my iPad – I love that you can have multiple user names, edit your own word lists & the variety of activities to put the words together!  Of course, my student would love the App more if the dinosaur ripped the heads off people/animals and blood and guts were strewn everywhere, but you can’t win them all!

Any other spelling mnemonics that you use, or think are gems?

How well do you know your students?

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Last week I spoke to @alice_eliza on the phone and she was telling me about the activity she did with her Year 5 students. I’d heard of the activity, but hadn’t jumped on the bandwagon yet.

She simply asked the students write on a piece of paper to finish this sentence,

“I wish my teacher knew…”

I’d seen lots of photos that teachers had posted using the #iwishmyteacherknew hashtag and after speaking to @alice_eliza, I decided to give it a go on Monday with the Year 4/5 class I taught. I teach this class once a fortnight, so I do have a relationship with them but I thought it would be a good insight for their classroom teacher. I promised them that I wouldn’t look at their pieces of paper…and I would keep them face down until I handed them to their teacher.

So how well do you know your students? As I handed over the stack of papers to their teacher, she was gobsmacked with some of the things she found out – some sad, some concerning, some hilarious and some interesting facts.

She verbally shared a few of them with me (I’d promised I wouldn’t look at them)…and there are two that stood out to me – and her!

#1. I wish my teacher knew…I am afraid of NAPLAN.

#2. I wish my teacher knew…I’m not really a fan of minions. (This teacher has a theme in her classroom – minions! Minion money as a classroom reward system, minion posters, minion pictures…you name it, she’s minion-ed it!)

But you know what? This teacher read every single one – and then proceeded to write a note back to every single student, acknowledging that she now knows something that they chose to tell her.

Personally, if I were in that class, I’d feel that my teacher knows me so much better. Not because I wrote a note to tell her something…but that she wrote back to me and made me feel important.

How well do you know your students?

Do they feel like you do?