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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Teachable Moment - Ashrita Furman, Record Breaker

Grab your pogo stick and hop your way right into the Guinness Book of Records! That's what I think my students will be doing after our lesson on MAIN IDEA and supporting details. 

The worksheet being used to review the skill had information about a gentleman who climbed up and down Mt. Fuji on his pogo stick.  Imagine the stamina and strength it would take to accomplish this feat! As the students continued reading they became fascinated by Ashrita Furman, the man who holds over a hundred other records in the Guinness Book of Records.

The students started asking lots of great questions.  Why did he decide to break the records?  How many records did he break? Where is he from?  Why did climbing Mt. Fuji on a pogo stick bring inner peace? (the paragraph mentioned it brought Ashrita inner peace)  What is inner peace?  Is he still alive?

Not realizing the interest this would spark, we decided to take a few moments to research this unusual record-breaker.  His website, which you can reach it by clicking HERE, has all kind of fun and amazing information.  It also includes the video below:

Students each wrote a letter to Ashrita in their writing journal.  They asked their questions about his records while also telling him about the records they would like break.  One student wants to be the first to eat the most gummy bears in 5 minutes while another wants to pass a football non-stop and still another wants to write continuously in cursive. We have contacted Ashrita through his website and hope to hear back from him!

One never knows where the learning will take us.  The key is to take those teachable moments and follow where it leads!

Advice on "How to get started" by Ashrita Furman himself can be found on this page of his website: How to Get in the Guinness Book.

Please share in the comment section the record you would like to break!  

top photo credit: Scott Beale via photopin cc

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Place Value Games in Math

"2 or 20?" asks the teacher? "Twenty, twenty...twenty," whispered the students on team B. Students in the class of a second grade teacher were totally engaged playing a math game (seen in the second part of the video below). As a way to get my students thinking about "Place Value", I decided to try this with my class at the beginning of school . So we played "101 and Out" with the whole class a couple of times. Getting the hang of it quickly, the students were able to play against a partner. Here is the video from Teaching Channel if you'd like to see how it works:

At first I thought the game might be too baby-ish for fourth graders. It was just right to start the year. Soon they will play a variation called "1001 and Out". Just changing the rules a bit to suit the higher place value needs.

"High Number Toss" was the next game we played to help students with reading, writing and comparing larger numbers (into the millions). (This is an EVERYDAY Mathematics game.) It is a bit more complicated as it requires students to correctly insert commas to help them identify the numbers.

The students loved this game because they wanted to see who could create the largest number. I loved this game because it afforded me the opportunity for formative assessment. This game also has a DECIMAL version.

Finally, Who doesn't love a good Jeopardy Game? I know my students have always loved playing (especially when I take out some teacher bells for them to 'ring' in). This online version from Super Teacher Tools is a great for "Place Value Review". You can play with up to 10 Teams (or just one). Click on the picture below to play the game.

Introducing a few new games at a time is a great way to keep students engaged and learning. Please feel free to share any place value games that work in your classroom!