Friday, June 26, 2015

Frezer for Sale

     My husband and I were on our way to an important meeting when I spied this sign on a refrigerator for sale in someone's driveway.   We didn't have time to stop, but hubby promised me we could come back after the appointment.  I was very lost at that point (this is typical; I have to have a GPS attached to my hand when driving), but he got us back to the spot and I jumped out to take a picture.
And that was when I noticed not just the one mistake that I had seen while we were whizzing by, but three.
Can you find all three of them?

1.  The "e" sound is long and therefore it should read, "freezer", not "frezer" as in "e-e-egg".   

2.  It doesn't work GOOD, it works well, because "well" tells how it works, and the word "work" is a verb (in this case anyway), so the word "good" adds to the verb; it is an adverb and should be "well".  
     I always ask my students, "How does she sing?" And they answer:  "She sings well."  Then I ask, "How does he write?"  And they answer:  "He writes well."   I do this about four times to make sure they understand it.  Then, I try and trick them.  "What kind of a book was it?"  No fooling them.  A book is a noun, and therefore needs an adjective to modify it.  "It was a GOOD book," they tell me.  And they are right.

3.  Squint and look closely at the word "works".  Do you see it?  Yep, that little apostrophe again, thrown in just for fun when it isn't needed.  The "frezer" neither "work is good", nor does it possess the "good".  

      The end of the story is that even though I did need a refrigerator, I did not need a "frezer", nor a freezer for that matter.  So I did not buy it, but I did get close enough to get a good picture (not a well picture) of the lovely sign.  As we drove away I began to wonder how funny the sign on the motorcycle that I forgot to look at must have been, too.   For more of this type of thing, click here:  Frezer work's Good.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Suger Peas Anyone?

      First of all,  I have to admit that I am not a very good gardener.  While I have grown a few melons and peas, I could never mass produce produce.  (Get it?)  But I can spell.  And I can feed chickens and it is fun to collect eggs.  But anyway, to help my students remember this one we say it funny and pronounce it the way it looks, like "sug-ar".  Or I make a rhyme like "I drive my car to get su-gar".  Or I would say something like, "I need A cup of sugAr."  And I would write it like that on the board so they would see the big ol' capital "A".   Thus, I have just demonstrated four different ways for them to remember the "A" in "sugar".  No, they will not remember all four of them.  They probably won't even remember two of them.  But almost always, they remember one of them; the one that made the most sense to them whether they are verbal, visual or kinesthetic, and that is enough to make them better spellers, better students, better thinkers, and better sign-makers if they ever mass produce produce.

      To see more of this same sort of thing, click HEAR.  (Just kidding.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Coffee Is Mine-- A Lesson in Using Possessive Pronouns

     "PUT TRASH IN IT IS PLACE."  No.  Neither does the "it" own the place.  When using possessive pronouns, the rule is to never use an apostrophe, because the word itself is already possessive.  So, if we do add one of those little apostrophes in just for fun, it reads like a contraction.  "PUT TRASH IN IT IS PLACE."

      And just for fun, this is how I teach possessives.  Every morning I am usually holding my coffee cup during English class as we accomplish math and English first thing in the morning, and while I am busy teaching, I never have enough time to take enough sips of my coffee.  Thus it is that by 10:30 a.m., I've (I + have) been teaching for two hours and have a half-full, cold cup of coffee.  So, I grab my cup of coffee and the students know what is coming.  I always say, "I own my cup of coffee; I possess my cup of coffee."   Then, while holding my half-full, cold cup of coffee, we all chorus together:
"It's MY cup.  The cup is MINE.
It's YOUR cup.  The cup is YOURS.
It's HIS cup.  The cup is HIS.
It's HER cup.  The cup is HERS.
It's ITS cup.  The cup is ITS.  (Notice no apostrophe there except where it is supposed to be:
                                                  It  IS  its cup (the cat's cup).)
It's OUR cup.  The cup is OURS.
It's THEIR cup.  The cup is THEIRS."

     To make this even more fun (and it is fun, even the grades which are not having a lesson on possessives stop the work they are doing and go along with us), we point to ourselves (my), the person closest to us (you), the boy (his) and girl (her) at the back of the room, the frog in the fish tank (its), all the people in the class (our), and the classroom next door (their) while we are all saying it together.
(This sign was not made by one of my students.)
      Bottom line?  It works.  My students rarely miss a possessive or put an apostrophe in the wrong place.   They see those intimidating words "possessive pronouns" on their lesson or a test, think for a minute, envision the coffee cup, remember the chant, and begin writing correct answers.  Mission accomplished.   For more lovely signs like these, click here and keep scrolling all the way to the bottom.  Then, if it says "Older Posts", click on that and you'll (you + will) see even more.   :-)


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Bad Art, Good Spelling

      My students found this one and told me about it, so I went and took a picture of it.  I love it when they are aware of signs, spelling, and what is going around them and not just drooling as they ride around in the car.  If they are noticing these things, then they are also more aware of their own spelling.  That is a good thing.  
       So that they do not make the mistake on the sign, I teach them that the two "e"s make things strong, like a steel beam is strong.  But, if you have two different letters, then the word isn't strong, it is weak and wimpy.
      More bad art.  Bad art can be funny, and everyone knows students learn more when they are paying attention and laughing at their teacher's bad art and not staring out the window of the classroom and drooling.  Enough drool for today.
      To see more misspellings, incorrectly placed apostrophes and bad grammar, click here

Banagram Champions

      It was softball day.  I am not into sports.  If I don’t stay inside and grade papers during lunch and recess, my house would never get cleaned, and my family wouldn’t have clean clothes-- much less dinner.  So I stay inside and grade papers.

     And so it was that while most of the school was outside playing softball, and three of my students asked me to come look at their accomplishment, I gladly did.

      They had used every one of the Bananagrams letters, and had even connected them all.  This is my favorite game, and it has become one of the students' favorites too.  Their vocabulary and spelling have increased greatly.  I was proud of them.  They were using their minds, working together, and having fun.  I took a picture of their work of art, congratulated them, and then sent them out to get some fresh air.  There is more to life than work and sports. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

A Lesson on Using Apostrophes

     Find the error.

      While I am thankful for a giving God, I am also thankful for English teachers.  I always teach my students that those little apostrophes mean something.  We cannot just throw them in for fun whenever we would like, or even worse, whenever we have an "s" at the end of the word.  The apostrophe means one of two things.  1.  It can mean that someone owns something, as in "Susie's doll".  Then I draw a little rocket going off (and we make the blast off noise) to show that Susie owns what?  Her doll.  (Bad art just for fun.  It doesn't even look like a doll.)
     2.   Or the apostrophe means that a letter was left out, as in "don't go" = do not go.  I show my students how to make the the apostrophe look like the "o" that was left out.  I tell them that the word got squished together, and the "o" got really tiny and jumped up into the apostrophe.  
       In the first example, the sign means either "Give thank is", or that the "thank" owns the "for".  I don't think so.   For more "creative" signage click here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Whales, Flags, Spiders and Tee Pees

     One day a week I allow my students to grab an encyclopedia and write about or draw something they found interesting in their volume.  (They ask me if they can do this on other days, but Wednesday is usually the weekly "encyclopedia day".)  The results are sometimes astounding.  They are learning about animals, insects, history, and art.  They are having fun and learning at the same time.  

Friday, June 5, 2015

SAD JAM ZAX; Illuminated Letters for Art Class

     I am fascinated by most any kind of lettering art, especially that of the Medieval scribes.  I had the privilege of seeing the Book of Kells while in Ireland this past summer, and it just intrigued me more.  So, I put illuminated letters on my list of art projects for the upcoming school year.  
An "M" from the real Book of Kells.

     First of all, I printed out  three or four pages of examples of illuminated letters from a search.  This gave the students some ideas.  Then, if they wanted to, I would do a search for them specifically, like “illuminated letters 'M' ” and that way each individual student could find something that he or she really liked using their own initial.  Next, I printed out the specific design that each one liked, and they began working on their own (freehand--no tracing allowed!)   Here are the beautiful results.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Leaky Antifreeze, Wait! No, Rock Candy, No, Moldy Sugar Water, No, Cultured Alien Barf

 For the last semester of school we were studying medicine and health for elementary science, but I also wanted to do some more hands-on type activities.  Here are a few of the ones we attempted.  I chose that verb on purpose. 
Rock Candy
     This one failed; I think I didn’t have 100% cotton string or something picky like that.  But we did learn about saturated solutions, and they had fun stirring inordinate amounts of sugar and food coloring into water and watching it dissolve.  It is okay to have something fail--we still learn.  We learned that mold made from colored sugar water was gross and did not make rock candy.   We also learned that if you ask a student to dump out the gross, moldy, sugar water, and they don’t dump it in the grass, but on the church driveway, it makes the trustees worried that someone’s antifreeze is leaking.  

Sprouted Red Oak Acorns
     I was weeding the area around my red oak tree when I pulled up these sprouted acorns.  I got two for every student, put them in cups in which I had drilled holes in the bottom, and added in some dirt.  We had an amazing class and discovered facts about the roots, the leaves, the stem, and symmetry.  We learned about tap roots, sprouting, and why red oaks are called red oaks.  We measured the stems and the roots, and them compared them.  The taller the stem, the longer the root.  
Sprouting Sweet Potatoes
     Next we put sweet potatoes in mason jars filled with water and watched as they sprouted, budded, and reached towards the light from the window.   It really brightened up our room.  

Sprouted Seeds in Self-Watering Bottles
We also put seeds in these neat little water bottle spouters which automatically water themselves with cotton string.  (Evidently I still had cotton string at this point.)  I got this idea from Teacher's Week at Faith Builders one summer.  
     We left all of these in the classroom until the last day of school and watched as they grew.  Books plus experiments equal learning.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Art of Clean Up - Part V, and a QUIZ

     I found two more sets, so here they are, and a quiz.  If you get both answers right, 
you win a cup of coffee and a muffin, but you have to come visit me to claim your prizes :-).
1.  The student who organized the 1,000 Club board for her art project
 wants to be a _________ when she grows up.  

A.)  zoologist     B.)  plumber     C.)  teacher

2.  The student who organized this granola bar for her art project is ____________ .

A.)  an obsessive-compulsive cook     B.) a health nut     C.)   a biochemical engineer

The last two pictures were taken by +Lexi Miller .

To see more these projects by our students click here.