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Sunday, November 27, 2016

TPT CYber Monday and Tuesday

Take advantage of the TPT sale and stock up on products that you have in your cart or wish list!
My store is on sale.

LINK to my TPT Store

Monday, November 7, 2016

Dynamath + STEAM + Pokemon = #SmartTeachingTips

Sponsored by Scholastic Magazine

I was recently contacted by Scholastic Magazine and asked to come up with a creative lesson or idea using their DynaMath magazine, for students in grades 4-6.   I was so excited and then panic set in immediately.  My thoughts were, “How can I come up with an original idea for Scholastic?”  They sent me the magazine and as soon as I opened it up, the ideas came pouring out.  The magazine is full of high interest stories that are current, with amazing graphics and information. The stories include math connections,  but can easily be used in other content areas including science, language arts, and social studies. We are using STEAM in my school and this magazine is a perfect fit.  

"DynaMath magazine makes math meaningful by applying curriculum-connected concepts to engaging, real-world topics. Your student will also get plenty of math practice with over 40 motivating problems in every issue (with 40 more online)!  Subscriptions also include full access to DynaMath Online featuring instructional videos, learning games, printable skills sheets, and much more. Grades 4–6, Monthly."  Go to their website and check it out at

My Lesson
The front cover of the November issue is a giant Pikachu and I knew which story I was going to highlight immediately.  True confession…I may have become a little addicted to “Pokémon Go” over the summer and many of my fifth graders are still obsessed.  I work in a Middle School setting and making connections with kids is important.  What better way than something that they love?
My topic was chosen,  but I wanted to plan a lesson that connected to our curriculum. I started thinking about my current science and math standards.  I wanted to teach something that we need to learn about.  I sat with my teammate and we came up with so many ideas that we decided to plan a whole day of learning!  

I planned a STEAM lesson on “Gravity” and wanted to review decimal reading, writing and ordering decimals. My teaching partner teaches ELA & SS, she planned a poetry and grammar lesson.  

We set a date and planned our  first annual Poke Day.  

Poke Day
One of my favorite teaching hooks is dressing up.  I look silly in my hat, but it is for the kids!  This is a judgment free zone.  (BTW...I could not take off my Pikachu hat due to severe hat head)

The day started with our classes in one room.  I bought a set of plastic figurines from Amazon.  I had sorted them by color and listed the eight colors on the board:

  • Red
  • Yellow
  • Brown
  • Gray
  • White
  • Blue
  • Purple
  • Green
The students picked a figurine based on their choice of color without looking. I wanted to keep it fair. (I removed Pikachu)  I was surprised there were no complaints.  

Note: The figurines could be used in different math activities based on your grade level and current standards; making graphs, sorting based on type, making arrays, counting, and creating word problems, etc.

 DynaMath Magazine
The students read the article, “Counting Pokémon” and discussed the game turning 20 and the changes in technology over the years.  We have a huge span of reading levels and found the story perfect for all levels.  The kids loved getting their magazines.   They can’t wait to read the other selections with math practice.  
Next, the students were given a Pokémon Trading Template.  They created their own Poke Cards.  We used our Chrome books to research our characters and collected information.   We compared and ordered the decimals of their characters' heights and weights.  The students took string and measured the actual heights and could see that the drawings of characters are not to scale.
Here are a few of the finished trading cards. We used and went to their Pokedex tab.(Make sure this website is available in your school)  If not, Google the name of the character and a photo and facts will show up.  If students do not know the character, have them ask an expert in class, I had two.  You can also search by colors on the Internet, with photos for names. 
We broke into two groups for the next activities.  Some kids wrote poetry and went on a Poke Hunt in ELA (sorry no photos) and the other half built parachutes used the engineering design process in my room.  Then we traded off classes.

The trading card and poetry sheets are available on my TPT store for free.  Click here for link.

Poke Parachutes

I had taught a lesson on air resistance the day before our Poke Day and modeled all materials in a wind tunnel.  I dropped samples of materials and my students observed the air resistance.  The students wrote down the materials they wanted to use and sketched their designs. We have used the designed process several times this year.
The Parachute STEAM lesson is available for free on my TPT store here.  Click here for link.
The task:  to design a parachute that will get your Pokemon to the ground safely.  (we discussed that safely means slowest)

We jumped right into the parachute building.  The materials were laid out.  We spent about 30 minutes building, testing and redesigning.  Both classes were engaged and love STEAM challenges.
Once both classes were finished we took them to our back entrance that has a big foyer.  We had them drop them off the second floor railing.  Students worked in pairs and recorded their times using stopwatches.  They were beyond excited.   We used decimals and ordered their times.  (I wish I could share my videos)

Here are samples of their data sheets:
I will have my students complete a reflection sheet next week about our day.  Learning should be fun and meaningful.  This was a day that I hope they will always remember.
Do You Use Scholastic Magazines?

The day was a great success and I want to give a big shout out to Scholastic Magazine.  This was my first experience with DynaMath magazine and would love to have this in my classroom on a monthly basis.  It would liven up many of my math lessons and the articles would make the real-life connections.  No more "Why are we learning this?"

Scholastic Magazines is hosting a #SmartTeachingTips contest for teachers to develop your own creative ideas on how to incorporate Scholastic Magazines into the classroom! 

You could win a $200 gift card from the Scholastic Teacher Store!
Share your #SmartTeachingTips for how you use Scholastic magazines creatively in your classroom. Tell us about it on FacebookTwitterPinterest, or Instagram, and include a photo or video. Be sure to use #SmartTeachingTips. 

Three winners will be chosen based on outstanding creativity. Each winner will receive a $200 gift card to the Scholastic Teacher store. We’re excited to see your ideas! Follow Scholastic Teachers on social media to learn more.

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Printables – 30 Day Free Trial
Scholastic Printables offer teachers full access to our online database of over 20,000 amazing activities, engaging lesson plans, and other incredible teacher-created resources for grades PreK-6. Try it free for 30 days by clicking here.

Scholastic Magazines - Promotional Code
Scholastic Magazines are the most affordable and exciting way to bring current, curriculum connected nonfiction into your classroom. To save 40%, mention code “2905” when ordering. Call 1-800-SCHOLASTIC or visit

Good luck on the contest and enjoy these great offers from Scholastic!