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Topic: Robochalk and number line  (Read 2199 times)
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Redforkhippie
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« on: December 06, 2010 06:55:19 PM »

Here are a couple of toys/tools for teachers. One is math-specific, but the other would probably work for just about any subject.

I teach high-school algebra. If you teach high-school algebra, you know that if you want something fun for your kids to use in the classroom, you're probably going to have to make it yourself.

My kids are shy about calling out their answers in class, but they LOVE writing messages on the back of my car, which is covered with chalkboard paint, so I decided to make a set of "answer paddles" for them to hold up when they finish a problem. The ones I've seen at teachers' supply stores were obscenely expensive and could only be used with dry-erase markers (also expensive), but I figured I could cover some wooden paddles with chalkboard paint left from the aforementioned car-painting project and accomplish the same thing.

I couldn't find enough wooden paddles at the craft store, but cardboard robots were available for $1.99 a dozen, so I bought two dozen. We haven't used them yet, but the kids saw them today and are dying to use them, so hopefully the fun of writing their answers on chalkboard robots and holding them up for me to check will override the fear of revealing a wrong answer. I think they're pretty cute:



While I had the chalkboard paint out, I made a really effective tool for checking kids' work when they graph inequalities on a number line. I coated the fronts of 22 hardware-store yardsticks with blackboard paint, put number lines on them with a silver paintmarker -- using the inch marks, which were stamped into the wood, as a guide to keep the spacing even -- and handed them out in class, along with pieces of chalk and felt squares for the kids to use as erasers.





They don't look fancy, but they're ideal for my purposes: big enough to be visible from halfway across the room (thus allowing me to check multiple students' work at a glance), but small enough that they're not unwieldy to use or difficult to store when we're not using them.

The other great thing about them is that they make the kids feel loved. My kids try to act nonchalant, but when I make something myself for them to use -- whether it's a game or a classroom decoration or a tool to help them understand the assignment -- they get really excited about it: "You MADE that? How long did that take? I can't believe you'd spend all that time just to make something for us!" At some level, I think that's probably more valuable than understanding algebra.  Smiley
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« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2010 07:10:49 PM »

i really hope that 42 is a reference to hitchhikers guide and the manically depressed robot!! This is a cute idea and i love the idea of a chalkboard car!?!
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rlynn
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« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2010 07:47:23 PM »

Love.

I was one of those kids too shy to speak up in class.  I would have loved this!!!
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Redforkhippie
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« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2010 10:01:10 PM »

starsxarexrad: The number 42 is, indeed, a reference to HHGTTG. We have a running joke involving the numbers 23 (Ryne Sandberg's jersey number), 42 (the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything) and 66 (for Route 66). Every time we have class, we have to have either a Sandberg reference, one of those three numbers, or all of the above. If I don't work it in there, one of the kids will. It's pretty funny. The chalkboard car is on this forum somewhere. It's the one with the tie-dyed starburst on the hood. I updated that post the other day with some new stuff I'd added, so you can probably find it pretty easily.

rlynn: Thanks. I was always the loud one, so it's hard for me to figure out what will and won't work with my shy kids. I spend a lot of time sort of throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks. Thanks for the feedback!
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« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2010 10:46:20 PM »

I love robots.. and I love math. (kind of lol)

I think I'm going to totally steal your idea to make a present for my teacher friend!! Smiley

Thanks for sharing and for the inspiration!  You must be a wonderful teacher to put in that effort and creativity for your kids (I was one of the shy ones that would totally love that.. even now lol)
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« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2010 04:58:37 AM »

How cool that you realize that as tough as high schoolers pretend to be, they still want to feel special and have fun things (not just handouts and tests!)! (I taught middle/high and was often looked a bit down upon by other teachers who taught SUBJECTS, not kids, for being a little "out there" with my themed decorations and games--GASP--to teach concepts. I taught kids first, subject second, and miss the classroom even today!)

These are seriously cute enough to be a great gift to ANY math teacher and even useful for things like spelling word practice or games in other kinds of classrooms.

Thanks for sharing!
« Last Edit: December 07, 2010 05:01:11 AM by graced » THIS ROCKS   Logged

Words to craft by: Un homme a cheval va jamais voir ca...  "A man on horseback will never notice that."
ninjanator
« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2010 07:13:09 AM »

this is such a great idea! I want to be a teacher some day, and seeing this gives me more motivation Smiley 42 is indeed the answer to life.
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Redforkhippie
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« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2010 10:52:53 PM »

I'd love to see a section on the forums for classroom ideas -- games, teaching aids, classroom decorations, projects you could do with kids, etc. -- but I'm not sure where you'd find a moderator. I'm afraid most of the Craftster teachers are too busy making stuff for their classrooms to have time to moderate a forum.  Undecided

graced: When did you teach? I came out of college in 1997 with all these exciting ideas for group projects and interactive whatsits and crazy whizbang lesson plans ... and promptly walked into a high school where the "good teachers" were the ones who had the kids sitting quietly in neat rows, filling out worksheet after mindless worksheet. The administration did NOT appreciate my gonzo teaching style (imagine Hunter S. Thompson without the drugs and firearms, and you've pretty much got my classroom), and my contract was not renewed at the end of the year.

I was so frustrated by the whole experience that I actually quit teaching for a decade. I am pleased to report that by the time I returned to the classroom in 2008, the research had caught up to my professors' assertions, and my taste for organized chaos was finally considered fashionable.  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2010 08:02:12 AM »

Oh, ouch. I've heard that story a lot, and it's a shame.

I originally taught in an inner city school with KEYED light switches (so nobody could turn off the lights in the windowless room and kill somebody in the dark). My principal heard a rumor that I had the kids using scissors and came racing in to save me, and found the kids all calmly making christmas wreath pins (from punch-outs of green paper and GASP pinbacks with hot glue), listening to me read a story aloud. She was astounded, but eventually I worked my way up to having not just scissors but X-acto knvies and hot irons and blenders. (Paper making as an experience to write about, in case you're wondering. Most of these kids did not have a pair of scissors in their homes and didn't know how to use ANYTHING. Every little experience was like Christmas to them.)

After getting in the middle of a really bad fight and tearing up a knee (MY students were leaping to my defense while the other large male students were trying to kill each other with me in the middle!), I was invited to teach in a university laboratory school. There we were actually encouraged to be cutting edge, since we were the demonstration school for college of ed students! Still the straight rows and stuff, though, once the kids crossed that magic hallway dividing the k-5 into the middle and high schools! The elementary classrooms were crazy good, and the high school could be confused with a 1950s school or a college classroom (except mine, of course). Yawn.

I had a TEAL room (not institutional green!) in which the kids could choose a desk,  couch, or beanbag (with lap desks) and they could stand or spread on the floor if they liked, as long as they were completing the task. If there were kids lying on a branch in a tree out front writing, nobody had to ask whose they were. It didn't make me many faculty friends, but the kids and their parents still come up to me and tell me what a difference it made in their lives and love of writing.

I graduated grad school in 1991, with lots of ideas and a lot of motivation. I only left the lab school because I was pouring all that energy into my students and not my own little ones, and their dad was working out of state. They thought their names were "Hurry" and "Up." Not. Good.

I miss the classroom (but not the overwrought rules for standardized testing), but my kids have definitely benefitted from having a no-holds-barred mom whose attention is not diverted to other people's kids! (Their dad/my DH doesn't want me to go back even when they're out of school, either, knowing it's all or nothing with me.)

I'm grateful there are teachers like you in the public schools!
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Words to craft by: Un homme a cheval va jamais voir ca...  "A man on horseback will never notice that."
niftyweaver
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2011 06:08:56 PM »

I love this idea!  I'm also very curious what your car looks like...
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