Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Do You Really Need That New Resource Book?

In Michigan, we begin the school year with kids the day after Labor Day.  This year I am embarking on a new journey.  After 14 years of teaching 3rd grade in the same school and the same classroom, I am making the transition to 5th grade.  I am super excited for this change, as I will be able to have some of the same students I had 2 years ago, and I will be focusing on Social Studies, teaching all 5th graders about American History!

The teacher that was in the room before me retired in June 2014, and she left many things behind in the event a brand new teacher was assigned 5th grade.  With that not being the case, and 16 of year of educational accumulation myself, my first day in the back was spent going through the bookshelves to keep what I wanted and pitch what I thought was unnecessary.  It was like going through the Educational Resource Museum!  I was able to see the path of our reading assessments in Walled Lake...Basic Reading Inventory, Qualitative Reading Assessment, and the Developmental Reading Assessment. I was also able to notice something else as I went through resource books she had on the shelves…


I found 3 grammar books from 1978, upon opening them, they looked just like the practice sheets that I have assigned from time to time.  Then I opened up a grammar resource book from the 80’s and 90’s...again, it was pretty much the same. There were at least 20 grammar resource books that were essentially the same regardless of year published. In resources that I inherited years ago, I came across pronoun practice cards from 1967.


As you can see they are pretty straight forward.  I am pretty sure there are cards that have been created in the last few years that have the same type of mission...who does the pronoun refer to?  I imagine there are more colorful borders and a fancier box, but the content really hasn’t changed over the years.  Pronouns are pronouns, punctuation is punctuation, and yet millions of dollars are spent each year on these types of resources.
If you go onto many of the digital resource sites like Teachers Pay Teachers and Super Teacher Worksheets (one of my favorites), I am sure you will find practice sheets that are essentially the same.  

Then I found Fraction Bar sets.


Here are 2 versions of the Teacher’s Guide.  The Fraction Bars for each set are essentially the same.  I know I have taught fractions with fraction bars before, but I have to say, these sets were pretty comprehensive.  I actually wished I had been able to use these, as I there were some activities that were new to me and probably would’ve been helpful to some of my students who struggled with fractions. Again, the content was essentially the same.  

Nowadays, there are plenty of sites for digital fraction bars.  My favorite is ABCya.  In fact, Alan Tortolani, the founder of ABCya got his start creating an app for virtual fraction bars, as he was sick of his students losing the real ones.  The best thing is, ABCya is free to use!
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I am sure that as I continue to set up my classroom, I will continue to find artifacts for my Ed Museum of Teacher Resources. Perhaps I will even tweet them out using the hashtag #EdMuseum.  If you have things in your classroom that would qualify as vintage teaching materials...tweet it out too using the hashtag!  

And if you are thinking of buying new teacher resource books, you may want to look through your vintage materials...things really haven’t changed much OR go online and find it for free!

Cheers to Back to School,
Jennifer Bond

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