Hand Motions Gone Bad

CENSORED FOR YOUR COMFORT LEVEL (because I don’t know if you would be comfortable with this, lol)

I have recently incorporated a wide variety of hand motions into our math learning. Formulas instantly become more entertaining (and much easier to recall the next day) when we act them out…

So we’re learning the formula for finding the volume for a cone or a pyramid, and basically, you find the volume as if the objects were a cylinder or rectangular prism (respectively), and then you need to multiply by one-third to have the volume for only the cone/pyramid. I did not have any brilliant ideas for how to act out one-third, so I polled the crowd, a.k.a, the eighteen 5th graders who are oh-so-privileged to get math instruction from yours truly.

From the back of the room, Ricardo makes these hand motions:

I didn’t see it the first time, so he quieted his friends down around him and showed them. His friend, Jorge, says, ”Miss, you have to see this!”

So I look. Ricardo does his hand motions again and nearly shouts, “One-third!” as he makes the first and second motion.

My jaw dropped to the floor. My eyes bugged out of my face. My eyebrows hit a new height complete with forehead wrinkles.

Ricardo looked back at me quizzically concerning my reaction… Then it hit. A look of recognition of what he had just done came over his face and he now mirrored my reaction.

He put his hands behind him (as if that undoes the fact that he just flicked off his teacher, not once, but twice). His face, neck, and arms turned red. Seriously, I have never seen such a blush from a 11-year-old boy.

”I– I’m sorry!!” he managed to stammer.

Now recovered from my initial shock, I am laughing my head off. Seriously laughing my head off (which my students just learned today does not mean someone’s head actually falls off #iloveidiomeducation). Students that didn’t see what had happened are now pleading Ricardo to show his idea again. He politely refuses, still beet red.

I am still laughing my head off as I write this. The art of making mistakes is to laugh… right? Any mistakes you’ve made lately that you couldn’t help but laugh about?

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Lions and Gladiators

Some (not all : )) of my best teaching moments are those spur-of-the-moment ideas like this one:

We went outside for recess, and there’s this random new white plastic huge circle thing in the middle of our playground field. My students of course ask, “Teacher, what is this for?” and I replied, “I have no idea.”

Then Yessenia has the ingenuity to say, “Miss, it reminds me of the Colosseum!!” If I were a cartoon character, you would have seen a lightbulb appear above my head at that moment when I thought of this game:

1. Take the classic “Sharks and Minnows” game where one person is a shark and has to tag the minnows. Once the minnows are tagged, they become sharks as well and start tagging others. Eventually everyone is tagged.

2. Adapt “Sharks and Minnows” to be “Lions and Gladiators”. Wa-lah! You have yourself a review game of sorts!

We even made a demonstration video for you below. Notice how our “lion” prowls a bit before pouncing on all the gladiators (one boy pointed out that the gladiators should be wearing armor and carrying shields and swords… I told him he was absolutely correct however I didn’t think the principal would approve our recess swords. He said, “But it’s self-defense!” Lol.). Then when the lion decides to pounce, the crowd creates a “whirlpool” effect as they all run in a circle. I love how Mario is just chilling on the side for a while, and then how Luis is holding an injury and groaning as he theatrically runs in front of the camera. : )

(Sidenote: Please excuse the poor video quality… I’m new to posting videos on WordPress!)

Yes, those are boys still screaming like girls, haha. Glad you asked. : )

This game is easily adapted to other historical contexts and even to science concepts. We recently switched from studying Ancient Rome to studying the American Revolution (humongous jump in content, I know : )). A student suggested that we play “Boston Massacre” where we have one “redcoat” (a British soldier) chase all the colonists… It’s a bit morbid, but I guess I’ll do whatever it takes for students to retain information. If you’re looking for a science game, you could have the white blood cells chase germs.

And if you’ll humor me for just thirty more seconds, I just had to share how cute my students are. Seriously, it is such a privilege to be part of students’ lives and be able to enjoy getting to know their silly side (even if silly means pretend boogers, lol). This is our “practice” video and it truly brings out a couple of our classroom personalities. Enjoy : )

Brain Breaks #1

Inspired by a masters class, I have recently begun what I call “Brain Breaks” into our daily routine. I wrote this on the whiteboard to remind myself (I am quite forgetful unless I write everything down, lol.) and to show the students that it was something to look forward to in the routine.

Above the whiteboard, I taped up a sign language alphabet that I got from another teacher blog. The Brain Breaks this past week were centered around learning sign language. Students loved it and immediately began practicing, even when it wasn’t time for a break!

Here’s a closer look at the alphabet. We have practiced the entire alphabet, spelled specific words, and taken the “Ultimate Challenge” of spelling a word in sign language without looking at the alphabet. I originally thought it might take some convincing to get the boys involved, but they have been the first to volunteer for the “Ultimate Challenges.”