Thursday, November 17, 2016

Math Competitions

'Tis the season to think about math competitions!  I have a student who really enjoys math and solving challenging problems.  (I also have students who are surviving math, and not so into it.)  Over that last few years I have attended several math competitions, and the following are two that I recommend for high school students.

OCTM (Ohio Council of Teachers of Mathematics) has a state-wide competition on February 25, 2017 this year.  The test is given at over 25 locations across the state of Ohio and it costs only $5 to participate.  It is an interesting test with a wide variety of questions as well.  The Ohio Council of Teachers of Mathematics is a delight to work with!  They are very open to homeschoolers.  If you place in the top 1% of those taking the test you go on to compete in Columbus, OH at the OHMIO (Ohio High School Mathematics Invitational Olympiad) on April 1, 2017.

The American Mathematics Association offers the AMC 10/12.  This is a 25 question 75 minute exam.  It is offered on February 7, 2017 and February 15, 2017 this year.  The AMC 10 and AMC 12 are the gateways to bigger AMA competitions including the AIME (American Invitational Mathematics  Exams), USAMO or USAJMO (USA Mathematical Olympiad or USA Junior Mathematical Olympiad).

These tests are not as easy to get into as home educators, but it is possible.  The easiest thing to do in the state of Ohio is to try to take it at a college.  Below are places that gave the test last year.  It might be worth it to write them if you are interested.  You can request to take it at a location of your choice but you must have a proctor not related to any student, have the test in a public location, and be approved by the American Mathematics Association. 

Clark State Community College
570 East Leffel Lane
Springfield, OH 45505
United States
Kanesha Hall

1911 W 30TH ST
CLEVELAND, OH 44113-3401
United States
Jon Barker

The Ohio State University, Department of Mathematics
100 Math Tower
231 West 18th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
United States
Aurel Stan

University of Findlay
1000 N Main St
Findlay, OH 45840
United States

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Veteran's Day Resources

Today is Veterans Day!  This is a great day to share with our students about veterans and how veterans have served our country and each of us.

I have gathered a few helpful resources and books to share with you.  The Medal of Honor Heritage Center has many great resources on those who received the medal of honor.  The Scholastic Teacher site has great information on Veterans Day and includes lesson plans, books, and many wonderful resources.

Below are some books I like that you might enjoy as well.  If you click on them it will take you to their Amazon page.  Further down is a short video on Veterans from USAA, an insurance company for veterans and their families.  I found it very moving, and a nice overview of Veterans for all ages.

Video from USAA:

To all our veterans I want to say: Thank you for serving!

Friday, November 04, 2016

Assisted Reading with Developing and Struggling Readers.

I have been reading a very interesting book called The Fluent Reader by Timothy V. Rasinski.  He has an interesting chapter on how to help students learn to read who are developing readers or struggling readers.  I knew all of the methods that he mentioned, but he backed up his methods with research and more effective strategies then I have seen in the past.

He discusses Paired Reading.  Paired reading is essentially where a more proficient reader, either a parent/teacher and child, older student and child, or two children read together.  Paired reading should be about 10-20 minutes at a time at least five times a week. It is recommend that the less proficient  student should be able to read 90-95 percent of the material accurately for this instruction to be the most effective.  The student and teaching reader read to together side by side.  The student follows along with his/her finger.  It is recommended that if the text is harder the teacher should read a little louder and match your reading rate to push the student.  If the text is easier then the teacher should use a quieter voice and provide less support.  When the passage is finished the teacher and the student should chat about the reading. The student should be allowed to read independently if they would like during this process.  This is really nothing new to home educators.  But what excited me was where he talked about a research study where the majority of students who participated in paired reading at least five times a week made 6 months of reading progress in six to ten weeks. (Limbrick, McNaugthon, & Cameron, 1985).  I have a video below that demonstrates this.

   The other interesting study was that which revealed the positive gains that students made when listening to audio books while following along in the text.  Students who did not follow along in the text did not make the kind of gains as those who did.  Here is an article that discusses the gains students made and some resources for audio books.  Here is another article that discusses the benefits for all readers. With many kids at many different reading levels my students often listen to audio books.  We mostly use the public library for their audio books and downloadable digital books.  I renewed my commitment to having them follow along in the book after reading these articles.

The last intriguing idea was that students who watched closed captioned programming made gains in reading.  At my house we turn on the closed captioning because there are so many loud people in our house making it challenging to hear a movie or show.  My students were pretty excited about this!

I am hopeful this helps you with some specific ways to help your struggling or developing readers.