To, Two and Too

To, Two and Too

When I’m looking for something to do on Monday, I don’t want to see something that says, “Teach ‘to,’ ‘too,’ and ‘two’ by examining meaning and pronunciation, and find kinesthetic and auditory hooks to help learners remember the spelling.” I want details, details, details. So I’ve written lots of details today.  

Here is a lesson I have taught many times, to help students understand and remember the spelling of “to,” “too,” and “two.”

These three are called homonyms in every book or app that I have seen, but in my part of the English-speaking world, they are not all pronounced the same way. “To” is usually shortened in speech to “t’ ”  a “t” sound and a very little “uh” or schwa sound after it.

I like this lesson because it’s a new take on an old topic, because students collect and analyze the data and come up with the rules instead of me giving them out, because it involves a fair amount of moving around and fun, because it involves exploring the language, and finally because it offers the students some physical and auditory hooks to remember these three words, in addition to the usual meaning-based distinctions. Continue reading

Human Digits

Human Digits

digitsPick a digit. Pick your favorite digit–any one you want, from the pile on the table.” That’s how the “human digits” activity starts. It’s another social math activity, this one to teach place value, and to practice reading big numbers.

Make a Safer Space

I know I’m going to ask people to get themselves into groups, and some people will hang back and wait to be invited to join a group, which is stressful, and others will be nervous about being on their feet and not knowing what I have in store for them. So I put some energy into making the space more comfortable for everyone. Continue reading

Make Math Social

Make Math Social

This lovely video shows Elana Feder and her GED class doing a social math activity about Positive and Negative Numbers.

Continue reading

Bernice Shows the Way

Bernice Shows the Way

I remember the moment that I began to mark for confidence. It was Bernice who got me started.

The class was finishing up their writing, and putting it into the envelope that went upstairs to the secretary to be typed so that everyone could have a copy of everyone else’s stories. I tried to catch people as they finished up their work, to do a final proofread with them.

On that day, Bernice strode purposefully up to the envelope hanging behind me. Continue reading

Yahtzee

Yahtzee

We rarely know how far our work goes, but once I got a glimpse—

I was working with some parents on producing a manual of family math activities (Family Math Fun!). We met twice a week for 11 weeks.

Jeannie (not her real name) only came to the first session, where I showed the group how to play Yahtzee, and gave them all dice and score cards to take home. We played a few rounds so that everyone got familiar with the game.

As the project came to a close a few months later, I asked all the participants to come in for a final interview, and Jeannie was happy to come.

Since she had attended only one session, I did not expect her to have got much benefit from the group, but I simply asked my first question, “Has coming to this group made any changes in your life?” She answered with a decisive yes.

She said that she and her husband got along better, as did the kids. “We have better communication. I see my daughters helping each other with school math by using a ruler or calendar, explaining, not just giving the answer.”

I asked what had made the change. Continue reading