Friday, February 18, 2011

School: George Washington, Doubles

Tuesday was my day to work with my first graders.  I read a story about George Washington from the Scholastic Educational Series. It was a little dry. Not much interest from the children.  When I read the page about why the colonies revolted against England I knew what to do.  The book listed three reasons why the colonies were upset. I took the one about troops being billeted in private homes for a hands on example.

Each child sits on a square on the carpet.  I had T stand up and made him an British officer, he then picked 3 boys as his troops.  I had T take a square from A and put his troops in her square.  Then he needed a place so he took a square from B and that became the officer's quarter.  He then made A and B go stand off the carpet.  They could only come back to cook and clean for the troops.  The class did not like that, it was not fair.  And I said correct.

I showed them how the battles of the war were fought.  The British stood in rigid straight lines in beautiful red uniforms, with guns and cannons.  The Americans had few uniforms, few guns or cannons.  I had two rows of children stand up and named them British troops.  They could not move.  Then I had the next row stand up, they were Americans.  And the last row were trees. The Americans were to squat down behind the trees.  I looked at my little battlefield and suddenly all the "trees" lifted their arms in a curve and became trees.  That made me laugh.  Plus it showed me they were getting into the act.

I asked the British if they could see the Americans.  They said no. I asked the Americans if they could see all the Redcoats, they peeked around the trees and said yes.  I asked which side would be the  easiest to take out. They all agreed the British were in trouble.

Now the hardest part of this exercise was to do it without having them act as if they shooting a gun.  To talk about war and not say kill, or to pretend to shoot a gun.  I had to stay PC. 

While I worked one on one, the rest of the class was working on math. They were adding doubles plus one. This is a way for them to add quickly and easily. An equation would look like this:  4+5=____   They were to write down the lowest number, double it, and add one more.  4+4=8    (think this part  8+1 =9)  
so 4+5= 9  The class has done a lot of work with doubles. They were to write out the extra steps for the first 5 problems and then just write the answer on the next 3 rows of problems.  They did practice examples together and then off to work alone.  Three rows had to be finished by lunch time.

I started working with reading:  I was working with A on sight words and she said she didn't feel good.  I felt her, no fever.  I asked what was wrong and she had a meltdown.  She hadn't done three rows of math and it was nearly time for lunch. Tears and sobs, she didn't know how to do it and she was going to be in trouble.  I told her to go get her paper and we would do it together. 

She could do the addition, she didn't understand writing down the doubles and adding one.  We did it over and over and finally I think she understood.  She literally had made herself sick because she wouldn't ask for extra help.  Asking for help is the most important thing a child can learn.  When stumped asking is the smart thing to do.

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