How to Make Math More “Fun”

One of the challenges for many teachers is how to make classes more engaging. In particular, teachers struggle with subjects such as Math, English and  Science that most students consider dull. Now that every student is used to gaming on an I-pad or Nintendo, it is difficult for a textbook written in the 80’s to hold the student’s attention.

For this reason, I was pleased to be introduced to a teacher named Teresa Evans. She has devoted a lot of time and energy to creating fun games for math and reading.  She created two best selling products called Making Math Fun and Kid’s Reading Games.

This Fun Math Games Collection gives teachers, parents and home-school families a huge collection of Math Board Games, Math Card Games, Math Print and Play Games Sheets and loads and loads of Math Games Ideas including math fact games for kids and hands on math games.

Right now, all around the world teachers are using these games to introduce, review and reinforce math concepts. These games are ideal as a supplement to any math curriculum.

They are simple and easy to use and provide you with the perfect way to get students applying their math skills without them even realizing that they are doing math!

With this collection you will save yourself loads of time – you won’t have to hunt around for games, come up with your own ideas or create your own resources. The games will be there on your computer ready for you to access and print exactly what you need whenever you need it! These are PDF files that are downloaded to your computer immediately after you order. You can print what you want, when you want and as many copies as you want.

Do you have students who are struggling? These games are a simple and effective way to reinforce basic skills. Best of all, our math games make math practice fun and interesting.

Do you have students who need to be challenged? The games also provide fun, quality activities for challenging advanced kids.  They are designed to be entertaining and engaging.

This Fun Math Collection includes:

– Printable Math Board Games – full color board games that you just print and hand out.

– Printable Math Card Games – print the cards, cut them out and they’re ready to play.

– Print and Play Math Games Sheets – games for 2 players that you just print and hand out.

– Collection of Math Games Ideas – most of these requiring very little equipment or preparation.

The Making Math More Fun Collection contains loads of games that cater to different ability levels and learning styles. It is a selection of easy to use, colorful games that bring math and fun together to make math interesting, exciting and meaningful.

To learn more visit here.

Labor Battle Looming For Ontario Teachers

Ontario teachers may be bracing for a labor shortage on the horizon. The McGuinty Liberals have proposed a wage freeze for the next two years. In addition, the government wants to  block any potential strikes.

Ontario is currently facing a $15 billion dollar deficit and cutbacks are looming for a number of different public servants including doctors.

According to the Globe

The province has given school boards and teachers until the end of the month to sign local deals similar to one it reached with English Catholic teachers, which included three unpaid days off and eliminating the banking of sick days.

Many teachers were infuriated at comments made by the Education Minister.

“I don’t believe the average Ontario worker would expect to get a 5.5 per cent pay hike in these economic times just because they took the summer off and refused to negotiate a new agreement,” she said.

“What I’m saying today is that won’t happen. We won’t let it happen.”


Teacher Pension Benefits On the Chopping Block

It is clear that many teachers will not be receiving pension benefits that they long expected.

The Ontario Teachers Pension Fund has a $9.6 billion dollar shortfall.

The shortfall is largely due to record low interest rates. It is difficult for the OTP to generate 7% returns when interest rates are only 1%. Perhaps most disturbing is the fact that the OTP has a significant shortfall at a time when the Canadian economy has been relatively strong. The last decade of Canadian economic growth and stock market gains of the TSX have been inadequate to counter balance the weak U.S. economy.

“We are saying benefits have to be cut,” Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said in an interview on Tuesday after the new shortfall was announced. “We are not agreeing to contribution increases.”

The good news for new teachers is that their contribution requirements will not increase as fast as in previous years. The bad news is that the Ontario government is balking at pension support.

Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan CEO Jim Leech emphasized to reporters in a press conference on Tuesday morning that the plan is still 94 per cent funded.

“This is not a crisis,” he said. “This is our 10th year that we have faced a preliminary deficit.”

Of course other major pension funds including CALPERS in California are facing similar pension shortfalls. In addition, many corporate pension funds are wildly underfunded.

Mr. Leech said he thinks both the government and the teachers’ federation would like to deal with demographic challenges to prevent shortfalls in future years. The plan has been paying out more in benefits than it has received in contributions since the end of the 1990s. Teachers work on average 26 years and collect a pension for 32 years.

The rules of the plan currently allow the sponsors to increase contributions to 15 per cent of salaries (contributions are already scheduled to rise to 13.1 per cent), with those contributions matched by government, or to decrease some of the guaranteed inflation protection.

But doing both of those things “would not quite cure this deficit,” Mr. Leech said.

Leech is quite right in that all the tinkering does not actually cure the shortfall. Unless interest rates rise to normalized levels of 6-7%, all pension funds and insurance companies will struggle with defined benefits.

What are the Best Teaching Resources For New Educators

If you were starting out in the teaching profession what would be the top 3 books or teaching resources that you would want on your bookshelf?

What books do you recommend to young teachers that are just starting out in their career?

We recently conducted some research from the top educators in the U.S. and Canada about the teaching materials that have best prepared new graduates and teachers for their first five years of teaching.

Here are the results:

The First-Year Teacher’s Survival Guide: Ready-To-Use Strategies, Tools & Activities for Meeting the Challenges of Each School Day

The overwhelming favorite was the The First-Year Teacher’s Survival Guide.

This bestselling teaching book is composed of two parts. Firstly, there are dozens of checklists for topics such as improving professionalism and dress. The latter part of the book basically outlines what new teachers should expect in their first few years of employment along with tips on lesson plan preparation.

The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher

This book has sold an astounding 3.3 million copies. It is on the bookshelf of teachers in over 100 countries.

The First Days of School is similar to the Survival Guide although the format and style are completely different.

Most teachers use The First Days of School to create a script for starting a class. The author is big on procedures to retain control of any classroom including how to increase the respect from your students.

The Creative Teacher: An Encyclopedia of Ideas to Energize Your Curriculum (McGraw-Hill Teacher Resources)

The last book that was recommended for new educators was The Creative Teacher.

This resource is largely focused on activities for K-6 although some teachers find it useful for older students as well. This teaching resource has new spins on how to create assignments that are creative and fresh. The ideas are mainly centered on book reports, math, science, and writing assignments.

An example of an activity found in The Creative Teacher would be interviewing a character in a book rather than writing a traditional book report.

We are curious to hear what our 20,000 readers find are the most helpful resources for new educators.

We will post your recommendations on our website.

Time to Start Using the Online Video?

Is it time to use Khan academy in your classroom?

For those of you unfamiliar with this non-profit organization, here is a recent talk that Salman Khan gave at TED.

The organization has over 3000 videos on a broad range of subjects – everything from calculus to biology. The non-profit is largely backed by the Bill Gates foundation.

In this day and age, every student is used to using Youtube for entertainment but also for learning. When students want to learn a video game trick or how to shoot a hockey puck they first reach for Youtube tutorials. However, when it comes to learning substantive material like math, the thinking was that the classroom is more effective.

Maybe it’s time to start testing online video instruction and other online teaching tools to see whether your students are learning more effectively at their own pace in a non-classroom setting.

Education is in the “Dark Ages”

According to a senior executive at Apple Computer, education is in the Dark Ages.

“In general, education is in the dark ages,” he said, adding that education has challenges that are “pretty profound.”

“It’s hard not to see that the textbook is not always the ideal learning tool,” Mr. Schiller said.

Apple announced digital textbooks that will be provided by Pearson PLC , McGraw-Hill and Houghton Muffin Harcourt.

Textbooks for high school students were added to the iBookstore Thursday (for U.S. residents only thus far), they will be priced at $14.99 or less, Mr. Schiller said. The store features textbooks on algebra, biology, chemistry, geometry, and physics from McGraw-Hill and Pearson. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt are “coming soon” according to a notice on iTunes.

Of course, the $15 price tag is a lot cheaper than traditional textbooks. However, how many school boards can afford $500 I-Pads? The other difference is that university students sell their textbooks when the school year is finished. Other students are able to buy used textbooks at 50% of the cost. In other words, under the old model, students can recoup some of their expense. In the Apple model, this will not be the case.

The smartest thing for school boards and universities would be to support open source software and open source tablets. The price of tablets is plummeting (Kindle for under $200) meaning that it is reasonable to believe that tablets with color screens will be priced under $100.

However, if school boards get locked into contracts with companies like Apple, the cost will be several times what it should be. If school boards are smart, they’ll opt for open standards that are freely available for all to use and compatible with any operating systems/devices instead of being locked into a single vendor.

How To Land a Teaching Job

This is a guest post by Candace Davies, Global Career Management Professional, Creator of ‘A+ Resumes for Teachers’ & Author of 101 A+ Teaching Job Search Tips
If you have just finished college and have received your teaching degree, or are currently a professional not in the teaching field and you want to transition into teaching then read on.

The process of finding employment in the teaching field can be an overwhelming task, if you are unprepared. Quite often, more experienced teachers are automatically invited to continue teaching at the beginning of each school year, leaving those new to the field out of luck. Another reason for job seeker frustration is that available teaching positions may be limited and competitive.

A huge chunk of the process that will help greatly is to know where to look. There are ways you can make this process a lot less painful by following a few simple guidelines, and before you know it you will be on your way to a new teaching career!

If you are a new graduate, visit your local school system’s HR department or recruiting department and inquire about any possible open positions. If there are currently no available positions, ask if you can leave your resume in case something opens up. Most teacher interviews take place several months before the actual hiring for the upcoming school year.

Beginning as a substitute teacher will help you start your career, and this may very easily lead to a full-time teaching position. While attending as a substitute, it is important to network with your co-workers and administrators and mingle with the students. If you create an excellent bond with the students and co-workers, your chances of getting hired as a full-time teacher will greatly increase. Develop a relationship with the administrators at the school and demonstrate that you are passionate and enthusiastic about having a classroom of your own. If you do an excellent job while substituting, you will have more of a chance of getting an interview if you are known by the administration.

Networking is crucial. Let everyone in your social circle – your family, friends, colleagues, etc. – know that you are looking for a full-time teaching position. You never know what can happen in casual conversation. Usually it is easier to get an interview when you are vouched for by word of mouth, especially if you are new to the field.

Many overlooked alternative teaching positions include, tutoring, coaching, training, mentoring, or teaching degree programs. Do not close yourself off to just teaching in a traditional school environment. Usually, if you have just started in the teaching profession, a great way to get acquainted with the field is in ‘training’ positions.

Search for job posting on the internet. If you enter ‘teacher jobs’ or ‘teaching jobs’ or ‘education jobs’ on any job website’s search engine, you will find a huge list of teaching positions. The drawback to this is that hundreds of other interested teachers are looking at the same available positions. Narrowing your search online by searching specific areas of teaching, for instance ‘math teacher’, will narrow your search to that specific job title and make things a little less overwhelming.

Remember, entering any new field can feel like it is overwhelming and daunting, but persistence and hard work will guarantee your success. Make sure you start with a visually appealing, keyword rich, accomplishment-based teacher resume and cover letter that showcase what you can bring to the school district.

If you found this article helpful, then check out Candace Davies’ 101 A+ Teaching Job Search Tips