### Faux Diamonds

In some preschool and kindergarten classes across the country, the geometric shape formerly known as a diamond is now being called a rhombus.  Why?  Does it matter?

To be honest, a diamond is not technically a mathematical shape whereas a rhombus is.  When someone says the word rhombus, you know they are referring to a quadrilateral that has all four sides the same length; the opposite sides are parallel, and the opposite angles are equal.  (Mathematical Warning: A rhombus is not thinner than a diamond, AND the plural form, rhombi, is not a dance performed on the program Dancing With the Stars.)

But what comes to mind when you hear the word diamond?  If you are a woman, you might envision a large sparkling gem setting on the ring finger of your left hand.  If you are a guy, you might think of a baseball infield. (The distance between each base is the same, making the shape a diamond.)  If you play cards, the word might bring to mind a suit of playing cards, OR you might recall a line in the song, Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.  Calling a rhombus a diamond is similar to calling a child a "kid" (could be a baby goat), or a home your "pad" (might be a notebook).  The first is an accurate term, the second one is not.

So how does this affect you as a teacher?  It doesn't, unless rhombus is on a local benchmark or state test.  But if you are an elementary grade teacher, please use the correct mathematical language because a middle school math teacher will thank you; a high school geometry teacher will sing your praises, (see song below) and a college math teacher, like me, will absolutely love you for it!

Rhombus, Rhombus, Rhombus
(sung to the "Conga" tune)
(The song where everyone is in a line with their hands on each other's shoulders)

Rhombus, rhombus, rhombus;
Rhombus, rhombus, rhombus
Once it was diamond;
Now it's called a rhombus.

### A Go Figure Debut for a Washingtonian Who's New

Our newest Go Figure Debut takes us west to the state of Washington where we meet a kindergarten teacher named Alex. (I love that name as it is my youngest granddaughter’s name.) This is her fourth year of teaching. She’s had the “privilege” of changing grades each year from 1st grade to 2nd grade, then to a multiage classroom of 1st - 3rd grade students. She now teaches kindergarten and is super thrilled because her heart truly lies with early primary students and beginning readers! She calls this a magical time!

She grew up in the same town where she teaches and actually teaches kindergarten at the identical school where her husband of seven years attended kindergarten! (I wonder how many stories she hears about long ago.) She and her husband have a dog named Tank who is a wild black lab. After seven years, she claims Tank is finally calming down, but she also admits that he gave them a “run for their money” by eating couch cushions, chewing up floors, etc. Nevertheless, they love him and think he is perfect.

Alex is very passionate about creating independent learners, even in the youngest of students. She is a fan and supporter of systems such as Cafe and The Daily 5 and actively uses these ideas in her classroom. She comes from a family of teachers. Her mother taught Montessori for many years, so she has traits in that area as well. Her students can often be found in many different areas of the room working on a variety of tasks at their level. She enjoys watching her students grow while becoming responsible for their own learning! Alex also loves to learn and claims she would go to school forever if student loans and tuition didn't exist. (Don't we wish?)

Alex currently has 107 products in her Teachers Pay Teachers store
 Free Item
called The Kindergarten Connection, and 16 of them are free downloads. If you teach preschool, kindergarten or first grade, here is a good place to find first rate, high quality resources for your classroom. One of her freebies is an Alphabet Match Christmas activity. The Christmas trees and gifts for matching capital and lowercase letters make a great literacy center for December!

I also want to highlight one of her "bundle" (several resources put together at a discount price) called Super Sight Words which is an interactive sight word book. The download includes a total of 40 books - one for each of the following Dolch Pre-Primer words:

a, and, away, big, blue, can, come, down, find, for, funny, go, help, here, I, in, is, it, jump, little, look, make, me, my, not, one, play, red, run, said, see, the, three, to, two, up, we, where, yellow, you

Each individual book features the following pages:
 Super Sight Words
1. Cover
2. Word hunt find and color
3. Trace the word
4. Write the word
5. Decorate the word (you can use torn paper, markers, anything you wish!)
6. Rainbow write the word (using dice to determine color)
7. Cut and paste the word
In addition, each book comes with a necklace, watch/bracelet and crown featuring that sight word! Students should love showing off their learning with these fun accessories!

So if you teach preschool, kindergarten or first grade, check out Alex's products.  I don't think you will be disappointed.  And if you have time, visit her blog (also called The Kindergarten Connection) for other creative ideas you can incorporate into your classroom.

### Making Parent Teacher Conferences Worthwhile

Are You….....
• Tired of feeling like nothing is ever accomplished during the allotted time?
• Are you having problems with a student, but don’t know how to tell the parents?
• Do you want to be specific and to-the-point?
When I taught middle school and/or high school, these were the items that really discouraged me. I knew I had to come up with a better plan if I wanted parent/teacher conferences to be worthwhile and effective for both the student and the parents. I created a a checklist that I could follow, use during conferences, and then give a copy to the parents at the end of the conference.  It contained nine, brief, succinct checklists which were written as a guide so that during conferences I could have specific items to talk about besides grades. I found it easy to complete and straight forward plus it provided me with a simple outline to use as I talked and shared with parents.

Since other teachers were able to use it successfully, I took that checklist and turned it into a resource called Parent/Teacher Conference Checklist, Based on Student Characteristics and Not Grades. Nine different categories are listed for discussion.  They include:
1. Study Skills and Organization
2. Response to Assignments
3. In Class Discussion
4. Class Attitude
5. Reaction to Setbacks
6. Accountability
7. Written Work
8. Inquiry Skills
9. Evidence of Intellectual Ability
To get ready for conferences, all you have to do is place a check mark by each item within the category that applies to the student. Then circle the word that best describes the student in that category such as "always, usually, seldom". (See example above.)

Finally, make a copy of the checklist so that the parent(s) or the guardian(s) will have something to review with their student when they return home.

Now you are ready for a meaningful and significant conference.