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April 22nd is Earth Day

Earth Day began in 1970, (50 years ago!) when Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, wanted nation-wide teaching on the environment. He brought the idea to state governors, mayors of big cities, editors of college newspapers, and to Scholastic Magazine, which was circulated in U.S. elementary and secondary schools.

Eventually, the idea of Earth Day spread to many people across the country and is now 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 above 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 to Download
Inspired by Earth Day, Trash to Treasure is an eight page FREE resource. In it, you will discover how to take old, discarded materials and make them into new, useful, inexpensive products or tools for your classroom. Because these numerous activities vary in difficulty and complexity, they are appropriate for any PreK-3 classroom, and the visual and/or kinesthetic learners will love them.

To download the free version, just click under the cover page on your left.

Why does a Negative number times a Negative Number Equal a Positive Number?

Have you ever wondered why a negative number times a negative number equals a positive number? As my mathphobic daughter would say, "No, Mom. Math is something I never think about!" Well, for all of us who tend to be left brained people, the question can be answered by using a pattern. After all, all math is based on patterns!

Let's examine 4 x -2 which means four sets of -2. Using the number line above, start at zero and move left by twos, four times. Voila! The answer is -8. Locate -8 on the number line above.

Now try 3 x -2. Again, begin at zero on the number line, but this time move left by twos, three times. Ta-dah! We arrive at -6. Therefore, 3 x -2 = -6.

On the left is what the mathematical sequence looks like. Moving down the sequence, observe that the farthest left hand column decreases by one each time, while the -2 remains constant. Simultaneously, the right hand answer column increases by 2 each time. Therefore, based on this mathematical pattern, we can conclude that a negative number times a negative number equals a positive number!!!!

Isn't Mathematics Amazing?

How to Overcome Mathphobia (a hatred of Math)

We are in the spring semester at the college where I teach. (I teach Mathphobics who aren't always thrilled to be in my math class.) Last week, as the students were entering and finding seats, I was greeted with, “Math is my worst enemy!” I guess this particular student was waiting for an impending Math Attack. But then I began thinking, “Should this student wait to be attacked or learn how to approach and conquer the enemy?” Since winning any battle requires forethought and planning, here is a three step battle plan for Mathphobics.

1) Determine why math is your enemy. Did you have a bad experience? Were you ever made to feel stupid, foolish, or brainless? Did your parents say they didn’t like math, and it was a family heredity issue? (One of the curious characteristics about our society is that it is now socially acceptable to take pride in hating mathematics. It’s like wearing a badge of honor or is that dishonor? Who would ever admit to not being able to read or write?) Math is an essential subject and without math, not much is possible...not even telling time!

2) Be optimistic. Suffering from pessimism when thinking of or doing math problems makes it impossible to enjoy math. Come to class ready to learn. At the end of class, write down one thing you learned or thought was fun. I realize math teachers are a big part of how a student views math. In fact, one of the most important factors in a student’s attitude toward mathematics is the teacher and the classroom environment. Just using lecture, discussion, and seat work does not create much interest in mathematics. You've been in that class. Go over the homework; do samples of the new homework; start the new homework. Hands-on activities, songs, visuals, graphic organizers, and connecting math to real life engage students, create forums for discussion, and make math meaningful and useful.

3) Prove Yourself. Take baby steps, but be consistent. Faithfully do the homework and have someone check it. Don’t miss one math class! You can’t learn if you aren't there. Join in the discussions. Think about and write down your questions and share them with your teacher or with the class. Study for an upcoming test by reviewing 15 minutes each night a week before the test. Get help through tutoring, asking your instructor, or becoming a part of a study group. Keep in mind, no one is destined for defeat!

So don’t just sit there and wait for the dreaded Math Attack. This semester, meet it head on with a three step battle plan in hand!
FREE to Download
Math courses are not like other courses. To pass most other subjects, a student must read, understand, and recall the subject matter. However, to pass math, an extra step is required: a student must use the information they have learned to solve math problems correctly. Special math study skills are needed to help the student learn more and to get better grades. To receive 20 beneficial math study tips, just download this free resource.

A Go Figure Debut for an ELL Teacher who is New!

Kelly has been teaching for 14 years. She is a mainstream middle school math and science teacher. In addition, she provides professional development to other K-12 teachers in her district that relates to helping ELL students (English Language Learner) in mainstream classrooms.

Kelly’s favorite part about teaching is the connections she has with students, families and coworkers. Her school really has become a community which she has grown to appreciate over the years, especially since she’s been at the same school for 13 of her 14 years of teaching. She also loves the challenge of continually adapting to a changing educational environment. Kelly started teaching in 2006 before cell phones were so ubiquitous and yet in that same 14 year time-span, there have been significant other changes in what a classroom looks like.

Kelly describes her classroom as a positive environment with a strong sense of community. She does a great deal of community building while focusing on developing and maintaining positive relationships with her students. Observers in her classroom notice the positive relationships that play out in the classroom between Kelly and her students. She works hard to divide her class time into 10-15 chunks of time so her classroom plays to the developmental level and attention span of her students.

Kelly has two senior citizen pugs, ages 14 and 17 that she loves to pamper and care for. She has been married for 15 years to her husband, Etzel, who is a musician and a skilled tattoo artist. She plays the baritone saxophone in a local soul band and recently has started a hobby blog about her minimal teacher wardrobe, It's a website worth checking out!

Kelly’s Teachers Pay Teachers store is called Sheltered Language Resources. Currently, she has 163 resources in her store and nine of them are free. The general content of her resources is sheltered math activities for middle school classrooms with both ELLs and native English speakers together and sheltered activities for mainstream classrooms that can be adapted to any content area.

Free to Download
Her featured free item is 4 Square Vocabulary TemplatesIf you are wondering how to help ELL students in your mainstream classroom, start explicitly teaching academic vocabulary using these 4-square vocabulary templates. This free product contains three templates.

Only $13.00
Kelly also offers a bundle of 21 strategies that can be used in any content area and, with minimal prep (10 minutes or less), can be implemented immediately in your classroom. All of them target academic vocabulary and content acquisition and incorporate student interaction. They also include sheltered language acquisition strategies to focus on student language development using reading, writing, speaking and listening.

So if you happen to be a teacher who has ELL students in your classroom, take some time to check out all the resources that Kelly has in her store. You will find easy-to-use ideas that will make your job easier.