Countdowns are always exciting – whether it be for a New Year’s toast, a space launch, or in this case, the beginning of an exciting NEW school year at Posnack. Our NEW Fischer High School building and RAM Gym continue to exceed all of our expectations with impressive classrooms, science labs, a lecture hall, and a black box theater equipped with the latest in comfort and technology. Exciting programming is planned for all divisions as we integrate NEW electives into our curriculum including digital photography and theater production.
As you continue to enjoy your summer traveling, relaxing and spending time with family and friends, join us as we count down to what promises to be an amazing school year ahead. Thank you too for all the emails and texts I’ve received this week wishing me well as I embark on an exciting journey as the Middle School principal. The countdown continues as we move towards the best year yet!
Many parents have asked for summer book suggestions to keep their children engaged in reading over the summer. Penguin© Young Readers has put together a wonderful list of suggested books at all grade levels for summer reading. Many of these books are my own personal favorites and may be yours too! Their website for young readers is also filled with titles listed by category and reading levels for easy reference. Encourage your child to try new genres and authors, and to recommend the books they love to their siblings and friends.
Don’t forget to have your child log his/her reading minutes at the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge™ site using the screen name and password assigned by their teacher. Together we can help set a Posnack reading record!
Be sure to sign up for summer updates to track Posnack students’ progress towards reading ONE MILLION MINUTES!
Simply send a text to 81010 with the message @3a398
It’s hard to believe, but the official end to the 2014-2015 school year is just around the corner! Along with plans for summer vacations, sleep away camps, and relaxing at the beach, comes the realization that students still benefit from reading and practicing learned math skills in an effort to reduce what we refer to as the “Summer Brain Drain!”
This year, I am once again promoting the M4thodology Summer Sampler math workbooks which align with what your children learned this year in our Singapore Math curriculum. Links to purchase each workbook directly from Amazon.Com can be found on the righthand side of this blog post. The workbooks are designed to reinforce skills learned for the grade your child has currently completed, and I encourage you to purchase the next grade level as well so that they can begin applying their knowledge to even more challenging assignments.
Our Lower School Summer Reading Program this year promises to be exciting as we team up with Scholastic in our quest to see if Posnack families can break a record by reading a MILLION minutes this summer. More information will be sent home this week with your child’s log-in information and a link to receive reminders and updates all summer long about our progress towards that million mark! Encourage your child to read for pleasure and knowledge. Teachers will be sending home lists of books that are “just right” for your child, and we encourage you to read together as a family to build a love of reading throughout your home,
When we return to school, all students are invited to bring in their own drawing of their favorite book cover. These drawings will proudly decorate the walls of our newly renovated
Lower School Library!
Don’t forget to follow the directions above to receive text messages this summer with updates from our reading contest and suggestions for new books. Take a photo of your child reading while wearing their Posnack gear, and they may be featured in our weekly Ram News under the section,
Posnack Reads Everywhere!
Wishing all our Posnack families a relaxing summer filled with reading memories that will last a lifetime!
What is a Noetic Challenge? According to Merriam-Webster’s website, the combined definition of these two words would translate to “a difficult task relating to intellect.” This may be true, but to a group of 13 fifth-grade math students, the term Noetic Challenge means logic puzzles, math games, and a collaborative effort to determine how many pencils make up a “gross!”
Meeting weekly with our math enrichment specialist, Mrs. Feldman, these top math students finished their successful elementary school years by competing in a national math competition. The Noetic Math program is designed to challenge students’ mathematical thinking by strengthening problem-solving skills. All Lower School math classes incorporate a variety of challenging word problems to Posnack’s already advanced math curriculum in order to prepare students for an accelerated rate of learning in mathematics. Since their introduction to Singapore Math last year, students in grades K-5 are focusing on the importance of relating math to real-world situations and identifying problem-solving strategies to tackle higher-order thinking word problems. Whether it’s preparing a shopping list to stay within a given budget, or calculating the square footage of classrooms in our new Fischer High School building, students are learning to recognize that math touches everything in their lives. Posnack students have become quite adept at using bar models and algebraic thinking to solve authentic problems with a variety of strategies and as a result, have learned that success in mathematics IS something to brag about.
When presented with the idea of a math contest, Mrs. Feldman’s fifth-grade groups were excited at the idea of showcasing what they’ve learned. Over 24,000 students from more than 600 schools in 47 states participated in this contest, and Posnack students received commendations in the categories of participation, national honorable mention, and team winner. The celebration began with the awarding of certificates by Mrs. Feldman, followed by ice cream and the presentation of mini calculators to the fifth-grade math team. Certificates, ice cream, prizes? When I asked one student what the best part of the afternoon was, he replied, “We get to do even harder math now!” This student’s enthusiasm reminded me of the accomplished mathematician Paul Halmos who was quoted as saying, “The only way to learn mathematics is to do mathematics.” I can honestly say that it’s been a thrill and an honor to watch these talented students “DO” mathematics.
Click here for more information on the Noetic Math Challenge and to see a complete list of national winners.
Last year, Apple® sold almost 5 million Macs and I am certain that almost as many people purchased an Apple® mouse to go along with their computers.
Now the students in one of Ms. Spunt’s math classes have literally given new meaning to the Apple® mouse. Using challah, a bagel and yes…… even a real apple…..these young engineers found a way to create their own computer mouse complete with working right and left click controls.
Sixth grade student Jacob W. led the way attaching wires to a circuit board and gathering his classmates together as they explored the basic principles of engineering. Strawberries, bagels, challah, and a shiny red apple all became the electrical conductors needed to control the movement of the cursor on the computer screen. Within a short period of time they succeeded in proving that their apple mouse was just as effective as the one first developed in the mid-1970s.
One might argue that a GOOD school is defined as a place where teachers deliver lessons and provide answers to students so they can learn. But I believe that a GREAT school is a place where teachers guide the students towards self-discovery of the answers through hands-on activities and real-world application of learned skills and concepts. Engaging students in the creative process of learning is as valuable a lesson for the teachers as it is for the students.
This is just the beginning for Jacob and his classmates as the excitement of engineering makes its way to the Posnack middle school in the Fall. As Albert Einstein so eloquently stated, “Education is not received. It is achieved.” And creating a working computer mouse out of your teacher’s lunch is a really great achievement indeed!
I absolutely LOVE seeing a Singapore Math problem in the news! This challenging word problem taken from a recent Singapore and Asian School Math Olympiad (SASMO) contest has stumped people worldwide, and continues to go “viral” across the Internet. In case you haven’t yet seen it, the problem looks like this:
Now that you’ve probably read the problem several times over, how is it possible that a math problem contains no numbers other than the dates? The answer to that question is actually much more simple than the solution itself. Math doesn’t have to be limited to problems involving natural numbers or integers.
- Math is about logic and reasoning.
- Math is about creating order and patterns.
- Math is about making sense of something that initially appears senseless.
Tackling problems like this can help children of all ages build number sense – a skill critical to mathematical achievement and success. But even more important, problems like this help to create the thought process required for rationalizing and finding solutions for problems that span subject areas and curricula. The satisfaction gained from attempting and ultimately solving these types of puzzles creates an attitude where “I don’t get it” is replaced with “let’s try another one!”
So when IS Cheryl’s birthday? If you haven’t figured it out yet, watch the video below, courtesy of the BBC. And if you’re still not sure of how they came up with the answer, ask your kids. Chances are great that their exposure to Singapore Math strategies can make solving this problem easier than blowing out the candles on Cheryl’s birthday cake.
Does 2 + 2 = 4?
Are the group of numbers on the left side of the “equal sign” really “equal to” the number on the right side? By presenting this problem to students and using the word “equal,” we are telling them that those two little parallel lines mean there is only one possible answer, and by doing so, we may be missing an important opportunity to introduce algebraic thinking at an early age.
Research has shown that teaching elementary age children to think algebraically is a precursor for success as they move toward advanced levels of mathematics. By introducing the idea that the “equal sign” represents a relationship between two mathematical expressions, students begin the important process of relational thinking.
Let’s look at the following example:
7 + 3 = 2 + 8
If we say that 7 plus 3 equals 2 + 8, we are essentially limiting the ability of primary grade students to comprehend this unique relationship. Seven plus three does not ONLY equal two plus eight; it also can equal nine plus 1, and one plus one plus eight, etc. By using instead the words “equivalent to,” parents and teachers can emphasize this relationship and begin a math dialogue with their children to encourage a better understanding of mathematical expressions.
Understanding this concept can also help the student who struggles with memorizing addition facts. Using mental math, students can explore the concept of “friendly numbers,” those numbers like 10 and 20, which are easy to compute mentally. Asking a 1st grader to tell you the sum of 19 plus 28 may create a sense of panic in those who rely strictly on memorization. But when young children begin the process of decomposing numbers and understanding that there are numerous ways to create any given number, their computational fluency increases dramatically. Some students may decide to increase the number 19 to 20, by reducing the 28 to 27. So the problem 19 + 28 becomes equivalent to 20 + 27! Others may change the 28 to 30, thus creating the equivalent expression, 17 + 30.
At Posnack, we have encouraged all elementary level teachers to adopt the phrase, “equivalent to” in their math classes as a means of emphasizing this relationship and starting the journey to algebraic reasoning at a young age. Watching the Kindergarten and 1st grade classes in the morning is an amazing display of mathematical wonder. Students use the number of days they have been in school to develop word problems, number bonds, and mathematical expressions. And while many may still have a little difficulty pronouncing the word “equivalent,” they have no problem at all explaining how it works using two- and three-digit numbers. Watching the excitement in the classrooms as the students discover more than one “right” answer, is a thrill that is “equivalent” to none!
I have a new favorite word this week. It’s a word we’ve all used from time to time, and in a variety of contexts. It’s a word that brings to mind visions of hard work, dreams realized, and hopes for greatness in future endeavors. It’s a word that makes me smile broadly when I think about it being used as teachers teach and leaders lead. I like to think of my word as a super-hero action word – a verb that soars above buildings and goes where others dare not venture.
I have a new favorite word this week and that word is INSPIRE.
The dictionary definitions alone create a feeling of wonder and the determination to plow ahead. Entries found in Dictionary.com include “to fill with an animating, quickening, or exalting influence,” “to guide or control by divine influence,” and “to fill or affect with a specified feeling or thought.”
WOW! Just reading these definitions makes me want to go out and conquer the world. So what does this word have to do with education? EVERYTHING!
A misconception is that anyone can be a teacher given a college degree and an affinity for working with children. It’s true that oftentimes, important skills like classroom management, assessment design, and lesson planning may not really be perfected until well after entering the classroom. But it takes much more than a teaching degree and a state certificate to turn a teacher into an inspiring force. It takes teachers who INSPIRE students to take on challenges that they might not think they are ready to face. It takes teachers who INSPIRE students to not worry only about the right answer, because as history has taught us, what’s right today may actually be obsolete tomorrow. And it takes teachers who INSPIRE and nurture an innate curiosity in students while cultivating the seeds of learning with attention and care.
Hopefully in our lifetime, we have all encountered teachers who have INSPIRED us to do our best, be our best, and bring out the best in others. I see many of those teachers every day, as they arrive at school early and leave well after the last bell has rung. And as an educator, I too continue to be INSPIRED by others who embrace change, think “outside the box,” and create an environment that questions the status quo.
So by now you may be wondering what happened this week to make me feel especially “INSPIRED.” It was a series of events, but in particular, a TED Talk video by a chemistry teacher, Ramsey Musallam. His three simple rules for teaching provide a pedagogy that can be used by educators in all grades and subject areas. Watch Dr. Musallam in the clip below and prepare to be INSPIRED.
I am excited to announce that this blog has been ranked by the Teach100 website!
Blog rankings are updated daily, so with your assistance, we can watch together as Curriculum Corner moves up the ladder. Please share this blog with your friends and family so that they too can see what sets Posnack’s curriculum apart from all the others.