Everyday Math

Wallingford Elementary's math curriculum revolved around Everyday Math. The first subject I started teaching was math, because while the curriculum was presecriptive, there was flexibility, and alot of room to learn all the lessons, concepts, and materials required. As a growing curriculum in many elementary schools, I enjoyed mastering all the parts of the math lessons. To complement some lessons and meets the needs and pace of the students, I created excercise and manipulatives to enhance understanding of the concepts. Here are 2 examples:

“FUNCTION MACHINE” in Everyday Math

I created, during UNIT 2: Using Numbers and Organizing Data, a math manipulative to visually represent the function machine charts, also known as “in and out” boxes. Here is an example of an in and out box.






The understanding of these charts requires students to conceptualize number patterns and numbers operations. Many students struggled to understand the operation that happened in between the in and the out number. I create an actual “function machine” to help represent that the act of putting a number in the “function machine” meant that the number was somehow being manipulated. The in numbers (on index cards) were put in the function machine, and then rules (on index cards) were applied to them. Students would fill out “in and out “ charts to accompany the function machine operations. The students completed these charts, and this function machine was introduced in a lesson and then used in our math learning centers.










During Unit 2, Using Numbers and Organizing Data, I created an extra practice handout to reinforce the bar graphs we were studying. By observing the students, the explicit practice of drawing and using a bar graph seemed to be necessary. I added this into unit by discerning the the students' pace and needs. For students who needed extra support, I allowed them to physically used post it notes to creat their bar graph.

Please click here to view the WES bake sale Bar Graph.


To incorporate technology into the math curriculum, based on a lesson about collecting, the class collected family size, and created bar graphs through Excel. While I led the lesson, the lesson was a part of the 4th grade technology curriculum at WES. It was interesting to see how certain computer skills needed to be explicitly taught, and the skills that students were already familiar with even at the fourth grade.

Here is the model bar graph I used to show students how to input data, create a bar graph, and change the appearances of the bar graph.



Spelling and Homophones

The 4th grade curriculum used a spelling curriculum called "Spelling Discovery". In addition to the spelling curriculum, my cooperating teacher and I decided to add commonly mispelled homophones to their spelling lists. Looking at informal assessments and other observations, I noticed that the students struggled with differentiating spelling and meaning of homophones , both in their writing and reading. I also realized that throughout our language arts lesson and spelling units the sheer amount of homophones in our Enligh language. The noticing the complexity and prevelance of homohphones, homographsn, and homonyms started a inquiry into the English language.

Initially we started off with adding a few pre-selected words into their spelling. For exmaple, right and write; where and wear; clothes and close etc. I created several fill in the blank tests to assess their understanding of the meaning of the homonyms, along with the meanings. We also played with the homophones by creating sentences using both homonyms, using our creativity. We would then vote on the best sentences either verbally or I would type up a handout with all the sentences and ask students to "star" their favorite sentences. We posted these sentence on our "Homophone Sentences" wall. I would also incorporate many of the student created sentences on the test. In a sense, I wanted students to own their learning, classroom, and even their assessments, even in a area such as spelling.

Throughout the day, in all content areas, I would point out homophones. I thought this would raise awareness, and help students to see how their spelling words were used in everyday language, by connecting often decontextualized spelling words to many things we were doing in the classroom.

I am not sure how it happened, but students began to rapidly identify homonyms in peers', mine, and their own writing, reading, and speaking. This enthusiastic awareness even interrupted lessons, because students would shout out 'I just found a homophone!" I often commented that students were "homophone happy'. In order to acknowledge all of their contributions, I created an "I Spy Homophone Jar" that students could write down all the homophones, homonyms, and homographs they identified throughout the whole day. During transition periods, I would often draw a few to acknowledge studets' work. Students avidly took on this activity throughout the day, and I even was amazed about the amount of homophone in our English langauged. This raised awareness helped students to also notice it in their writing, and provided a means to help them improve their writing and spelling. I really enjoyed this process because it was an organic process of identifiying, learning, and incorporating spelling and writing into our classrool culture.




Student putting a homophone slip into jar.




The Middle Ages


The "Middle Ages" was the annual theme of the school. I created several Middle Ages Learnining Centers as an enrichment activity for students. I hoped to increase interest and knowledge about the Middle Ages and how the time period was different or similar to our moden times. The topics for the Middle Ages were a result of a survey I gave students about what they wanted to learn about, and a result of questions they generated after I presented a Middle Ages Powerpoint.

In order to ensure that this would be an independent but meaningful learning experience for students, we went over the "Middle Ages Learning Centers Code of Honor". This was a spin off of a knight's chivalry code, which we had discussed earlier. I created a Code of Honor that I should uphold, and then student's Code of Honorr to be independent learners in the centers and to pursue their interests I tried to be very explicit. Then we created our own "seals" .

Here is a copy : Middle Ages Learning Centers Code of Honor.

Other centers: Clothing, Castles, People and Fedualism, Homophones,

Art, Churches and Cathedrals, Food, and Knighthood

Here is an example of the Castles Middle Ages Learning Center



Learning Contractions Through

Grammar "Surgery"

Lesson adapted and modified from: http://www.teachers.net/lessons/posts/2805.html .

This lesson was originally a lesson I had tried with my 4 th grade class. I ended up presenting this lesson in two other fourth grade classrooms. As I did each lesson, I began to modify the pace of the lesson and integrated more differentiation ideas. This was because I had a time limit and a diversity of learners. Originally, the analogy was inspired by the website above (example of using a website/ professional resource), and then modified with differentiation ideas, and the “recovery room” contractions chart.








Reader Response Letters

Drawing from Nancy Atwell’s In the Middle and the Readers Workshop, my cooperating teacher had initiated a Readers Workshop wit her students. The students wrote personal letters to the teacher about a book they were reading in Readers Workshop. These letters were written once a week, and the teacher had a system in place so that 5 students would submit their letters each day. This was an enriching way to encourage literacy at home, promote reading books students had interest in, and to have a chance to individually get to know children through connections to literature. I took on about 5 students who I wrote letters to weekly, which gave me invaluable insight into their literacy lives and personal lives. On the way, I would share my own personal experiences and provide tips for writing as well. It was a way to individualize and differentiate instruction, depending on the students’ writing and reading interest and ability.


Top: Homophone Sentneces students generated. Bottom: Close up of I Spy Homophone Jar
Student working on the Knighthood Middle Ages Learning Center
"Patients" in the "recovery rooms". The contractions the students formed and pasted on the "recovery room" charts also served as a word wall for spelling.

Elisha Ann's Student Teaching Portfolio


Everyday Math    Spelling and Homophones    The Middle Ages

Contractions "Surgery"    Reader Response Letters    Fairy Tale Unit