Authentic Project Idea – Waves

waves

What causes the waves in the oceans?  Why are waves bigger on some coastlines than on others?  Where are the best places to surf?  Lots of questions, lots of research, many possible currents to follow (waves…currents…get it!)  Hmm…what causes ocean currents?

Authentic projects often start with a simple question, lead to research, and end in models or experiments.

Authentic Project Idea – Clouds

clouds3

How do clouds form?  What are the different types of clouds? What do clouds tell us about approaching weather systems?

Can you get one type of cloud on top of another type of cloud?  Yes, you can!  I  was in an airplane when I started thinking about clouds and I saw one type of cloud layered on top of another type of cloud. Or maybe that was just one type of cloud?  Off to do some authentic research myself!

Maybe I’ll start to photograph and label all of the different types of clouds I can find and what they mean…

Authentic Teaching Opportunities – Project Presentations, and more…

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Adults often do many things for children that they can do for themselves, especially when preparing for a project.  We all know how important it is to be prepared for a lesson with students.  But being prepared, and adults doing work that students can learn from, are two very different things.  Planning and gathering materials for a project are important activities that students can and should be involved with.  When plans miraculously happen, and materials just appear, many learning opportunities are lost.

When we presented the State Fair to other groups of students, many math opportunities occurred.  There was measurement to plan how to set up the fair in the space we had available.  There was discourse and compromise among students to agree on how to place each state in the fair – Alaska wanted to display the states alphabetically, Texas by size, California by population…   A schedule was developed – after the students figured out how much time each group would need at the fair based on number of displays to visit and how much average time would be spent at each display.  Groups were invited based on this schedule.  Then the schedule was adjusted for groups that had a conflict with the available times.  Then the schedule was re-adjusted after the first day when the students realized larger groups and older students needed more time at the fair than smaller and younger groups, etc.

There are many math opportunities for parents working with children at home as well.  When inviting other children over make sure your child is involved in this discourse.  You would be surprised how much math you use every day without even realizing it.   (Except of course when I balance my checkbook.  Then I totally realize how much math is involved as I try to make sense of the usual mess I have made!)

Authentic Project Idea – Airplane Engines

Engine

How do airplane engines work?  What is the difference between how propellers work and how jet engines work?  Some airplanes have hybrid propellers/jet engines, how do those work?

Authentic projects often start with a simple question, lead to research, and end with a student construction of a 747 (if you are lucky, it will just be a model).

Don’t Forget the Thank You

ThankYou

My children attended Penn State University and both received several scholarships while they were there (yes, I am a very proud mom). I was always impressed about the way the university handled scholarships.  The scholarship money was not released to the student’s financial account until a thank-you note was received by the university to forward to the scholarship donor.  Here was a major university taking the time to teach basic manners.

The holiday season is a great time to teach children about the importance of saying thank you.  Thank-you notes can be simple, or creative, including writing, drawing, and/or photographs. This is also the perfect time of year for children to thank people that make a difference in their lives every day.

And THANK YOU for spending your valuable time reading my blog.  I get a great deal of pleasure from being able to share what I learned during 30-plus years of teaching, and hopefully to continue to make a difference.  But, without my followers and readers, my blog really wouldn’t matter.  So, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you!

Happy Holidays and All the Best in 2019!

Love, Ellie

*A few special 2018 thank-you notes from me:  Thank you Eyen, for being the most amazing and talented illustrator ever!  Thank you Peggy, for being the absolutely best co-author.  And thank you Carissa, for being my fantastic guest blogger.

Tex the Explorer: Journey to Mars

MomChoiceTex

In my humble opinion, I wrote a good book.

Eyen’s illustrations made it Award Winning.

Available on Amazon

Mom's Choice Medal      Royal Dragonfly Award         Story Monster Approved Seal
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1      4        9

Tex loves to explore.  For his birthday, his parents gave him a new rocket ship.  Tex is off to explore Mars.

The State Fair Project – Teaching Math

State Fair 2

When we developed The State Fair Project in fourth grade there were countless opportunities to use math.  During the year we were constantly looking at statistics for each state.  Size, population, socio-economic make-up, average temperature, significant dates…  All of these numbers were looked at and discussed.  The numbers were used not only to compare and contrast the 50 states but to develop some cause and effect hypotheses.

If the average temperature of a state was warmer than most, how would this effect the size of the population.  How about the average age of the population?  Why would older people tend to live in a warmer climate? Why would more Olympic skiers grow up in specific states?  But, why were there Olympic figure skaters training in Florida?

Every statistic became a jumping off point for further discussion and research.  Questions created more questions.  The use of math was constant, fluid, and authentic. (And of course, reading and writing skills were strengthened as well.)

*This authentic project can be easily adapted for territories, counties…whatever system the country you are studying uses.