Lessons that I Love

There aren’t a lot of lessons that I do that I absolutely love.  This is probably because I do a lot of direct instruction because that is how our school day is organized and all it allows.  I don’t like it, but it is what I have to do.  I’m hoping with this move to IB that things will change and there will be more flexibility allowed in when/how we are able to do things.  This hope is because I know that IB has a tendency to be more inquiry based rather than Direct Instruction.


However, there is one direct instruction plan I love.  I do not remember who made it in the first place, but I got it off of the Smart Exchange (for Smart Notebook Files).

It’s all about rounding and starts off with a little story.

“Once, King A decides to send a message to king B.  He calls for a messenger and asks him to take two messages.  One is spoken aloud and king B has the key to understand it.  The second is a written message that the messenger cannot look at or he will die.  The messenger gathers some friends and starts off to King B.  

When he arrives he tells the king the message and gives him the written message.  The king agrees to do what King A asks, and then opens the message and reads it the message makes him so angry that he Immediately he sends his soldiers to grab the messenger and his friends and kills them all by cutting off their heads.”

Rather strange way to start a math lesson isn’t it?  But it’s really a mnemonic device that will help the kids remember the order of rounding.

1. Identify the king (namely, what place value you’re rounding to)

2. What is the message (I’m hefty, or I’m wimpy- hefty is code for go up one, wimpy code for stay the same)

3. The king does it (goes up/stays the same)

4. All the messengers die.  (Because a cut off head looks like a zero, so all the messengers become zeros.)

For a majority of my kids this really works!  This is one of my first math lessons each year.  I know it stuck because now we’re in December and they’re still using it now that we’re rounding decimals.



The December Grinch

Any teacher will tell you that the time right before a break is the hardest time of the year.  Some of these include:

1. The two days before Thanksgiving.

2. The four weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

3. The time between end of year testing and the end of the year.

Right now we’re sitting in that middle time.  Not only is it this weird time between breaks but the weather is slowly but surely changing also.  The daylight is growing weaker and it is warming up.  When we get up it is dark, and by the time our after-school program ends it is dark.  The classroom feels oppressively hot after the cool outside, but it is too cold to open the door for more than a few minutes.

The students are tired.  And I’m tired too.  This is the time of year when lesson plans fall apart, interventions get skipped, middle-of-year testing is going on and so forth.  I have to make sure to reinforce my routines over, and over, and over again because they forgetting them.


I have to make sure to focus and be nice.  There are worse things my kids could be doing than talking and not focusing.

Am I complaining?  Yes.  Is it pathetic?  Yes.

I’ll get over it.

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