Sunday, February 27, 2011

Read Across America 2011 and The Beauty of Geometry

This week on The Gateway we are focusing on two very important basic 21st century skills: reading and ‘rithmetic (Read Across America and fractals, if you want to get specific) We spend a lot of time planning, discussing, and implementing ways to improve our classrooms with technology. As important as this is, I feel sometimes we need to step back and be sure we are covering the basics as thoroughly as we can. Math and reading are essential skills, and teaching these subjects in a way that will encourage children to really enjoy them is very important.

Students will use reading and math in the “real world” constantly throughout their lives. Without a good grip on reading, especially, many tasks will be very difficult for students to master. Many classrooms will be celebrating Read Across America Day this year on March 2nd in honor of the birthday of Dr. Seuss and his passion for encouraging literacy. Joann’s post included links to our blog entries from last year with resources and ideas for this celebration. Please look through these ideas to see if there are some that will help your celebration of this important event. Reading Rockets, the NEA, and Seussville have created a few new resources for this year to make your literacy event even more meaningful.

Reading rockets created Family literacy bags, which help teachers put together kits to send home with their students to engage with their parents and improve their reading at home. There are 2 good new ones for K-2 students, just in time for Read Across America Day. The bags include different kinds of hands-on activities to engage students and their parents. Check out The Lorax and Green Eggs and Ham. Both of these would be great to send home with students, or you could pick through the activities to use in class.

If you go to the Seussville site, you can click on the link called 2011 NEA’s Read Across America Guide to get their 2011 Science Explorabration Guide. I liked the ideas in this compilation, because they tied literacy into quite a few different science themes.

Another project called Read Around the Planet was intriguing to me. The project connects schools so they can use videoconferencing to connect for Read Across America Day. We are already past the deadline to sign up for this year, but it’s something to consider for next year. You can see the kinds of projects that classes are doing on their site. The idea could be implemented on a smaller scale in your school this year. For instance, one class could perform for another, or maybe you could even split your class in small groups to present their favorite books to one another in a creative way.

All of the above resources focus on the importance of literacy as the backbone of understanding in all other subjects. One of these subjects is geometry, a class where students often have a hard time connecting to real-world applications. Joann collected resources this week on The Gateway on the subject of fractals. What in the world is a fractal? Read Joann’s post to learn more, and play with this virtual manipulative to see how they work. You can use a tool like this to get your students interested in the beauty they can discover through math. This collection from Cut The Knot called Interactive Mathematics Miscellany and Puzzles has a lot of math resources, puzzles, games, and explanations in all different areas of math. If you scroll down to the pink section titled Fractals and Chaos, you will find plenty of tools and detailed descriptions to explain fractals to your class.

To end my discombobulated column trying to cover reading and fractals in one post, please also look at this other neat resource on The Gateway. This is a collection of math sites that have been chosen on the 10 Cool Sites page over the years. They may not all have something to do with fractals, but you could find a site that is just what you are looking for a struggling student or a student who is looking for a little extra.

~Peggy's Corner - 2/25/2011~

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