Scaffolded Math and Science

(formerly ZeroSum Ruler)

No more playgrounds. What the hell are we doing? August 2, 2014

McGrath no playground 1What are we doing?

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I grew up in Worcester, Massachusetts and attended all public schools.  My first school was McGrath Elementary, nestled behind Forrest Grove Middle School.  You may have seen students from McGrath in the movie Supersize me.  It was laughable, in a somewhat disturbing way, that they quickly recognized a photo of Ronald MacDonald but not George Washington or Jesus. Worcester may also sound familiar because Barack Obama gave a commencement speech at a Worcester high school at the end of this past school year.

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McGrath was built a couple years before I was born, and when I attended there were 2 playgrounds: a lower one with a swing set, jungle gym, slide and monkey bars, and an upper one made almost entirely of wood.  The upper playground was always my favorite because it was a unique playground.  My favorite part were these wooden pillars of varying heights stacked next to each other that we used to run on.  Safe?  Maybe not.  Fun?  You bet.

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When I visited my dad the other day, we took a walk to McGrath.  There wasn’t a thought in my mind that anything had changed, and in fact very little had.  The four basketball backboards were still without nets, though they were now without hoops as well.   The brown brick building looked exactly the same.  Rounding the corner to see what is not easily visible from the street revealed a major difference from what I remember. The lower playground, or where it once was, is completely overgrown.  It was a shock, though I quickly figured that since the equipment was older than me that it must have rotted at some point.  I still wanted to see the upper playground.McGrath no playground 2

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The upper playground is not gone; it’s worse than gone.  Not only is it not a playground anymore, it would take some serious work to clear the area to put a playground back in there. The area is completely overgrown with sumac and other secondary and tertiary growth.  The wood pillars that I remember are still visible through the foliage.  It felt like a scene from Planet of the Apes after humans had been mostly wiped out or those photos that circulate on Facebook of World War 2 traffic jams and amusement parks near Chernobyl.  You can see what I mean in the photos.

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The funniest thing about this whole thing is that President Obama was 3 miles away giving his commencement speech and Michelle Obama is all about kids getting physically fit.  Kids at my old elementary school don’t have a playground.

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If this is happening where I went to school, I am willing to bet it’s the same story at your old school.  With all of the standardized tests we ask kids to take so that we can collect data on our schools, what are we giving back to the kids?  What are we doing?  A kid’s whole life is recess and it’s been taken away from kids at my old elementary school. What are we doing?  No really, what are we doing?

 

Freebie Alert! Point-slope formula foldable July 4, 2014

Filed under: algebra,foldable,interactive notebook — Shana Donohue @ 2:05 pm
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Point-Slope foldableThis foldable of the Point-Slope equation is a fun addition to an Algebra interactive notebook.  It explains each part of the equation and gives an example at the end.  It’s downloadable through the “Freebies!” tab on my Facebook page.

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If you’re on Pinterest, here is a link to the pin.  While there, why not join my collaborative board Math Grades 7-12?  My vision for this Pinterest board is for it to be full of resources for middle and high school Math students.  I’d love your additions!

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And finally, if you are looking for the complete set of linear equation Algebra foldables, here they are on Teachers Pay Teachers:

new cover

 

Free Slope Task Cards! Help celebrate my 1000th sale! April 16, 2014

Filed under: algebra,math,math game — Shana Donohue @ 6:26 pm
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A day came months in the making: my 1000th sale on Teachers pay Teachers!  To celebrate, I added my most popular task cards to the “Today’s Flash Freebie!” box over there —> Please download!  I’d love for you to come back and add a comment on how you used them in your classroom!

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freebie

 

Are most 4 year olds already doing subtraction? April 8, 2014

Filed under: education,math education — Shana Donohue @ 9:27 pm
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My daughter isn’t 4 yet.  Are most 4 year olds already doing subtraction?  Do they already have homework?

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TONIGHT’S FREEBIE! Interactive Notebook: Solving Algebraic Equations (8 minibooks) April 7, 2014

Filed under: algebra — Shana Donohue @ 7:23 pm
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A QUICK FREEBIE TONIGHT ONLY! This download contains 8 foldables to make an equation solving interactive notebook unit. Each foldable explains the steps to solve each type of equation. You can download from TpT by clicking on the picture or download it from the sidebar right here on my blog! :)

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Common Core needs a Common Curriculum – April 2, 2014

CaptureMy husband and I welcomed our first baby on January 19 of this year.  Who will she be?  My husband is an avid reader.  I, on the other hand, fall asleep after 3 pages.  He likes to jokingly chant, “Down with Math, up with Books!”  I’ve already had a conversation with myself about not having hurt feelings if she dislikes Math but, of course, I secretly hope it is easier for her than it was for me.  That the whole world is open to her at this very minute is completely cliche, but this doesn’t make it any less true.  We have no idea what kind of student our daughter will be, but if she is anything like her parents, she will be a bit Type A and fairly high-strung.  We want her to at least get to high school before having her first panic attack, so her Dad and I – two public school teachers – already plan to opt her out of state-mandated testing. OK, she’ll need to pass that last one that tickets a diploma, but before that?  Not a chance.  Ar we bad people for never having taken them?

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That all being said, our kid is definitely going to public school.  As messy as all this Common Core and testing business has become, there is no better place to get an education than in the concrete confines of the public school system.  Why?  Despite what it seems, with all of the regulations and evaluation systems to keep us slacker teachers from showing movies all day, we all want to be there.  When textbooks are too expensive, we make our own curriculum.  When the copy machine is out of toner again we go to Staples.  When we’re out of dry erase markers we buy more.  We apply for grants and get them.  We buy technology for our classrooms.  We supplement when our kids need more help.  And as if this all wasn’t enough, our girl is going to public school because of the diversity of people found there.  Where else do all walks of Life brush shoulders all day?  Nowhere.  Our girl is going to public school.

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I recently wrote about that angry dad who wrote on his son’s Math assessment, blaming the Common Core for how ridiculous the question was.  Today I read another article about the dad, Jeff Severt, and his son, who has been diagnosed with autism and reading difficulties. The article included quotes from people who helped develop the standards.  None took responsibility for the crappy question.  In fact, they said it was exactly opposite what the standards are all about.

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Come again?

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This dude says it’s not Common Core’s fault for how publishers interpret the standards.  Then whose fault is it?  This is like me telling you to be at my house by 7PM, not giving you my address, and withholding your package accidentally sent to me.  Like, how do I get there to get my package?  Publishers have been given free reign to slap a “COMMON CORE” on anything they please and because schools are so desperate to meet the new standards, publishers are making a fortune creatively confusing the crap out of kids.  Dude didn’t even own up to the 15 blank lines asking Severt’s son to write a paragraph about the problem.  He says that writing in Math isn’t a Common Core standard.  Then who is interpreting his standards this way and why are they not being stopped?

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I love creating curriculum.  There’s nothing more stifling as a teacher than to be told that we have to do exactly what the next teacher is doing.  But the Common Core standards leave a lot to the imagination of some pretty unimaginative people and that’s a recipe for a frustrating disaster.  Hopefully in the near future some curriculum guidelines will come into being.

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Yeah, probably not.

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About that “test” email earlier… Flash freebies! March 26, 2014

freebiesBefore I start, know that I’m 37.  When my family first got a computer it ran DOS and we used Prodigy to get on the internet.  When friends called the phone – like, the kind that went into the wall with a cord – the internet would let the call through despite changing the settings 1,000 times to favor the internet.  Oh internet how bittersweet our relationship has always been.

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Yesterday I made a Facebook page that loosely links to my TpT page so that I can give away flash freebies to followers.  Because I had no idea what I was doing, as I’m finding is more and more often the case these days (see age disclaimer above), I watched a video tutorial on utilizing Facebook apps to give away freebies and assumed that would be all I’d need.  It wasn’t.  Sometime today I created a WordPress post as a “test” and published it to see what would happen, completely forgetting that you all would get an email.  It was a jumble of what savvy people refer to as “html” and looked a hot mess.  You must have been like, ‘WTF is this?”  I would have been.  I may have even unfollowed myself.  Thank you for not doing that.  It was me who wrote that weird post; my account was not hacked.  Though it may have been less embarrassing if it had been.

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I’ll remember next time!  In the meantime, keep an eye out for my freebies.  I’m excited about them…

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