At good ol’ Dundee Elementary, I’m responsible for teaching a variety of subjects. Reading, writing, math, social studies, and science are all a part of my daily repertoire, but I rarely have the same group of students for two of the subjects. So as far as writing goes, I know the 25 (recently increased to 27) students who are in my reading and writing class very well. I can pick up a piece of writing by “Jason” and after reading it, can see if he used my comments and suggestions or not. I can tell if he focused on those grammar and spelling issues we’ve been talking about lately. I can hear his voice ringing through the writing. I’ve had the opportunity to watch this group of 10 and 11-year-olds truly grow as writers throughout the course of the school year. (I think that would be one of the fun and rewarding parts of being an editor and/or agent too, but that’s another topic for another day…)
But there’s a group of students whose writing is so unfamiliar it is virtually foreign to me.
My math class.
Prior to winter break, I decided to hold a contest. A writing contest. In my math class. Rrreee!!! (Brakes squealing.) Say what crazy teacher?! This is math! (I heard similar comments from some of my little darlings…)
I was tired of not knowing this whole other side of my math class, and decided to play on 5th graders’ love of competition. Students were instructed to use as many of the Math Word Wall vocabulary words as possible in a creative story. All students participated and the class voted on the top three stories. It was so much fun, and the stories were fantastic! Creative ideas such as a math pyramid, a classroom where everything relates to graphs, and a variety of others made the voting difficult, and made me hungry for more of this side of my math class.
The creative writing side!
My students turned in a project today that I cannot WAIT to grade. The assignment? Write and illustrate a picture book that could be used to teach 1st graders about measurement. The students combined their knowledge of measurement, tiered it for use with young children, wrote, and illustrated picture books that will be shared with our first grade classes in the coming days.
One student (who happens to the be the same student who won our previous contest) asked her 1st grade sister what 1st graders “are into.” The title of her book? Fairy Princesses and Star Wars Guys Learn about Measurement. Talk about targeting your audience!
There was one book that starred Spongebob and Squidward and another that starred Elmo and his Sesame Street friends.
Jada the Spider, a classroom full of vegetables, and a host of other characters wandered through the pages of these books, learning about length, capacity, and weight in both the standard and metric systems of measurement.
As they always do, these students amaze me. They inspire me. And sometimes, they tire me. 🙂