Wednesday, April 16, 2014

He IS Risen...Just as He Said!

For me and my family, next week is Holy week.  Next Thursday we celebrate the Lord’s Supper together at our church because it will be Maundy Thursday which may be unfamiliar to some of you.

Maundy Thursday always falls on the Thursday (when else?) following Palm Sunday which was the triumphal entrance of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem. Maundy is from the Latin "mandatum" or command (John 13:34, "Love one another as I have loved you.") and reminds us of the institution of the Lord's Supper (Communion). The Last Supper commemorates when Jesus shared the Passover meal with His twelve disciples previous to His betrayal, trial, and crucifixion as described in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  During the meal, Jesus gave the disciples bread and wine which symbolized His body and His blood.  Christians partake of communion to replicate Jesus' giving of the bread and wine and to remember His death on the cross. While Palm Sunday is usually more joyful, Maundy Thursday services are more somber since it marks the betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot.

For most schools here in Kansas, there is no school on Friday because it is Good Friday.  Good Friday is always two days before Easter and commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and His cruel death at Calvary. Christian theology teaches that Christ's death is the perfect atonement for sins, and as a result, the crucifix, or cross, is one of the fundamental symbols of Christianity.

The end of Holy week is Easter, when our family gathers at church to celebrate Jesus Christ's resurrection from the dead.  The New Testament teaches that the resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of Christianity.  It establishes Jesus as the powerful Son of God and as a living Savior because He conquered death through His resurrection. It is a day of joyous celebration when many hymns as well as arrangements of special music and songs of the faith are sung.  I would like to share one of my favorites.

Christ Arose
Lyrics and Music by Robert Lowry (1826–1899)

Verse 1
Low in the grave He lay,
Jesus my Savior,
Waiting the coming day,
Jesus my Lord!

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes,
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Verse 2
Vainly they watch His bed,
Jesus my Savior;
Vainly they seal the dead,
Jesus my Lord!

Verse 3
Death cannot keep its prey,
Jesus my Savior;
He tore the bars away,
Jesus my Lord!


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Put a LID on It!

There are so many things we consider to be trash, when in reality, they are treasures for the classroom. One that I often use is plastic lids from things like peanut canisters, Pringles, coffee cans, margarine tubs, etc.  These lids can be made into stencils to use when completing a picture graph.

Students must first of all understand what a picture graph is.  A pictorial or picture graph uses pictures to represent numerical facts. Sometimes it is referred to as a representational graph. Each symbol or picture used on the graph represents a unit decided by the student or teacher. Each symbol could represent one, two, or whatever number you want.  This type of graph is used when the data being gathered is small or approximate figures are being used, and you want to make simple comparisons.

Here is what you do to make ready-made picture graph stencils.
  • Choose the size of lid that you want and turn it over. Then trace a pattern on the plastic lid.  Make sure you are using the bottom of the lid so the rim does not interfere when the children use it to trace. 
  • To make the stencil, cut out the pattern using an Exacto knife. You might choose to do zoo animals:  a zebra, a lion, a bear, an elephant or a giraffe. 
  • Have a large sheet of paper ready with a question on it such as: “What is your favorite zoo animal?”
  • The students then select the stencil (picture) that is their favorite animal and trace it in the correct row on the graph.
Below is a sample of this type of graph. It is entitled, What is Your Favorite Season?  A leaf is used for fall; a snowflake represents winter; a flower denotes spring, and the sun is for summer. Notice at the bottom of the graph that each tracing will represent one student.

You could craft stencils for modes of transportation, geometric shapes, pets, weather, etc. The list is infinite.  But what if you don't want to or don't have time to make all of those stencils? Then save the strips that are left when you punch out shapes using a die press. They are instant stencils!

If you are interested in additional graphing ideas, check out the resource entitled: Graphing Without Paper or Pencil.   You might also like Milk Lid Math.  This four page handout contains numerous math activities that utilize a free manipulative. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Happy Earth Day

Happy Earth Day Everyone! 

Earth Day is observed each year on April 22nd.  The purpose of the day is to encourage awareness of and appreciation for the earth's environment. It is usually celebrated with outdoor shows, where individuals or groups perform acts of service to the earth. Typical ways of observing Earth Day include planting trees, picking up roadside trash, and conducting various programs for recycling and conservation.

Symbols used by people to describe Earth Day include: an image or drawing of planet earth, a tree, a flower or leaves depicting growth or the recycling symbol. Colors used for Earth Day include natural colors such as green, brown, or blue.  The universal recycling symbol as seen on your left is internationally recognized and used to designate recyclable materials.  It is composed of three mutually chasing arrows that form a Mobius strip which, in math, is an unending single-sided looped surface.  (And you wondered how I would get math in this article!?!)  This symbol is found on products like plastics, paper, metals and other materials that can be recycled. It is also seen, in a variety of styles, on recycling containers, at recycling centers, or anywhere there is an emphasis on the smart use of materials and products.

Free Handout

Inspired by Earth Day, Trash to Treasure is an eight page FREE handout. It features clever ideas, fun and engaging mini-lessons in addition to cute and easy-to-construct crafts, all made from recycled or common, everyday items.  Discover how to take old, discarded materials and make them into new, useful, inexpensive products or tools for your classroom. To download the free version, just click under the cover page on your right.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Disturbing Saga of Math Cannibals!!!

I have just started to teach Basic Algebra Concepts to my college mathphobics.  This is where the "rubber meets the road" as they say.  The biggest hurdle for my students is understanding positive and negative numbers.  Multiplying and dividing seem to be no problem, but addition and subtraction are another story.  To state that subtracting a positive number is the same as adding a negative number is considered hieroglyphics to many.  Since many of my students are visual/kinesthetic learners, I needed a strategy that would connect the abstract to the concrete. 

I took film canisters (a Trash to Treasure idea!) and filled them with two sided beans. One side of the bean is red (negative), and the other side is white (positive). Suppose the students have the problem -5 + 2.  They would get out five red beans and two white ones as illustrated on the left. Then the fun begins because suddenly the beans become "cannibalistic".  The red ones begin to "eat" the white ones and vice versa. (In reality, the students are matching each red bean with a white one and moving them aside; see illustration on the right.)  After each bean has been “eaten” by the opposing color, three red beans remain.  As a result, the answer to the problem of -5 + 2 is -3.

Don't stew; study!
If the problem were -2 - 6, the students would lay out two red beans and six red beans.  Since all the beans are the same color and no bean desires to "eat" anyone on their team, the student simply counts all of the red beans.  So  -2 - 6 = - 8.

What happens with a problem such as 5 + -3?  At the beginning, I have the students get out five white beans and three red ones; then match them resulting in the answer of 2.  Unfortunately, in our Algebra book, the double signs vanish by about the third page of the chapter; so, the students must recognize what to do. 
The first option is to insert a + sign such as in the problem – 4 – 2 = -4 - +2.  This allows them to see that, in reality, they are subtracting a positive number. 

However, what do they do with -4 - -2?   I instruct them to circle the two signs, and use the multiplication rule for a negative times a negative to change the double minus signs into a plus sign as seen in the illustration on the left. They can then proceed to use their beans to solve the problem.  This may seem unusual, but it makes sense to my mathphobics.

You might ask, "How long do the students use the beans? It’s interesting, but all of my students put them away, just at different times.  A few only need them for the first assignment whereas others need them for many.  I once had a special education student who was mainstreamed into my regular PreAlgebra class.  He was the last one to rely on the beans, but he did eventually put them away.  The important thing was he had a picture in his head that he could use over and over again.  Incidentally, he passed the class with a “C”, completing all of the same work the other students did.

Need a game instead of a worksheet to practice adding and subtracting positive and negative numbers?  Try Bug Mania or Roll and Calculate.  Just click on the name of the game.