Monday, January 4, 2016

PEMDAS and SCAMPER: Day of Acronyms

We will be hitting the ground running! Students started our new unit in math, which is one of my all-time favorites to teach since it focuses on algebra! In lesson 1 we discuss using variables to write expressions. Students know how to evaluate mathematical expressions containing numbers and operational symbols. Students were introduced to expressions containing variables. A variable is a quantity that can change or vary. Variables are often represented with a letter, such as x. Some students may misinterpret the use of variables, thinking that a certain variable always represents the same value. However, any variable can represent any value. Understanding variables and writing algebraic expressions are important skills for developing algebraic reasoning. In our second lesson students will dive into the order of operations. Remember PEMDAS (Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally)? Research says that children lack experience in the ability to think about operations as expressions of quantitative relationships rather than as procedures. This ability is required for solving equations. In this lesson students focused on evaluating numerical expressions with three or more numbers and more than one operation. They start with the Parentheses, then exponents followed by Multiplication/Division and Addition or Subtraction. Students solve either M or D and A or S in the order they are in the expression. So if the subtraction comes before the addition then they should subtract first. Students made their own PEMDAS creations for a new bulletin board outside our classroom!

During writing students are continuing to work on their narratives about their magical object. They are working on including entertaining beginnings, extending endings, and elaborative details! I am very excited to announce a special feature to our student blogging assignment. Each week an interested blogger will get to take home THE BLUE BUNNY! I met with Peter Sunday morning and he has bestowed the blue bunny on us! The guest blogger will take the bunny with them for the week and take photos of the bunny. The blog will showcase their week written in the point of view of the blue bunny. Peter is excited to be part of our blogging experience and will be checking social media for our blog posts from our agents. I will be running creativity workshops at the store. Our first one is Feb 28th from 1:30-3. I will send out info in case you are interested in bringing your agent over (siblings ages 5-12 are also welcome). I love all these opportunities for our students.
In reading I will be teaching the students about SCAMPER. I first learned about this strategy when teaching students about inventive thinking when I was at UVM in 2000. Now it is applied to reading! Students will be working in groups reading three stories during unit 3. They have already chosen their first story. I cannot wait to see their thinking evolve. To learn more about Scamper read below:

SCAMPER (Narrative Text or Stories)
What is SCAMPER and why is it important? 
SCAMPER (Manzo & Manzo, 1990) is a strategy that encourages students to think creatively and increase their understanding of a story by deciding how to change story parts in response to one of the SCAMPER challenges.

How can I use SCAMPER with my students? 
SCAMPER is an acronym that stands for Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to Use, Eliminate. Reverse. With questions provided or with questions you have created, encourage students to make up their own story by using SCAMPER challenges in an original way. "King Bidgood's in the Bathtub" is a story about a king who refused to get out of the tub. Following are examples of SCAMPER challenges that could be used for this story.

 Substitute: What do you think would happen if the king fished for sharks instead of trout?
Combine: What might happen if members of the entire court wouldn't leave their bathtubs?

Adapt: How do you think the page would adapt his plan if the drain was clogged?

Modify: How could the story change if members from another kingdom arrived?

Put to Use: How could one of the items in the tub be used to solve the problem?

Eliminate: Rewrite the story without the page to solve the problem.

Reverse: Rewrite the story with a king who refused to get into the bathtub.

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