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From first grade all the way into high school math, these basics are taught,
but not always remembered. To help your students with this fundamental,
you may try everything from spoken and written reminders to three-dimensional
examples. Here are some suggestions that may make your job a little easier.
Queens Pick Clean Okra I had
a lot of students (I was teaching remedial high school math) have trouble
remembering the order. I made up the line and we added the number at the
end. The kids were able to remember that 4 + 2 + 2 = 8 and they kept the
division or multiplication straight by knowing which way they were moving.
We just learned about this in my first grade class. The
way I teach it is by a visual I make up. First draw a giant "G" in black.
Then draw four "Q's" inside that shape, in red. Then draw two "P's" in
green, inside the "Q". Last, draw two "C's" inside the "P's". This shows
visual learners that there are four Quarts in a Gallon, two Pints in a
Quart, two Cups in a Pint......four cups in a quart.....16 cups in a gallon.....8
pints in a gallon, etc. This visual may take a little while to prepare,
however, it is well worth the effort! -DJ, Florida
I have used a Mr. Gallon that I made during my student teaching
34 years ago. He has two arms and two legs, each marked "quart". Gallon
is on his stomach. Two fingers (toes) on each extremity is written with
"pint". In this way, the students can see that four quarts equal one gallon
or 8 pints, or that 2 pints equals one quart, etc. It has worked great
for 34 years! -Judi
This is how I taught my 2nd graders...it isn't really a trick, but it
worked pretty well for them. I have them learn the measures in order as
2 cups= 1 pint
2 pints= 1 quart
4 quarts= 1 gallon
Then I reminded them that each one has a 2 except for gallons which
has a 4 (4 quarts=1 gallon). That seemed to help my kids. -cassie
contributor Lori Heiser shares this message:
grade classroom looked like many others I had seen in the past. The
teacher's desk was in front and faced the students. The bulletin board
featured student work. In most respects it appeared to be a typically
traditional elementary classroom. Yet something seemed different that
day I entered it for the first time.
My job was to make classroom visitations and encourage implementation
of a training program that focused on language arts ideas that would
empowerstudents to feel good about themselves and take charge of their
lives. Donna was one of the volunteer teachers who participated in this
I took an empty seat in the back of the room and watched. All the students
were working on a task, filling a sheet of notebook paper with thoughts
and ideas. The ten-year-old student next to me was filling her page
with 'I Cant's.' "I can't kick the soccer ball past second base."
"I can't do long division with more than three numerals."
"I can't get Debbie to like me." Her page was half full and
she showed no signs of letting up. She worked on with determination
and persistence. I walked down the row glancing at student's papers.
Everyone was writing sentences, describing things they couldn't do.
By this time the activity engaged my curiosity, so I decided to check
with the teacher to see what was going on, but I noticed she too was
busy writing. I felt it best not to interrupt. "I can't get John's
mother to come for a teacher conference." "I can't get my
daughter to put gas in the car." "I can't get Alan to use
words instead of fists."
Thwarted in my efforts to determine why students and teacher were dwelling
on the negative instead of writing the more positive "I Can"
statements, I returned to my seat and continued my observations.
Students wrote for another ten minutes. They were then instructed to
fold the papers in half and bring them to the front. They placed their
"I Can't" statements into an empty shoe box. Then Donna added
hers. She put the lid on the box, tucked it under her arm and headed
out the door and down the hall.
Students followed the teacher. I followed the students. Halfway down
the hallway Donna entered the custodian's room, rummaged around and
came out with a shovel. Shovel in one hand, shoe box in the other, Donna
marched the students out to the school to the farthest corner of the
playground. There they began to dig.
They were going to bury their "I Cant's"!
The digging took over ten minutes because most of the fourth graders
wanted a turn. The box of "I Cant's"was placed in a position
at the bottom of the hole and then quickly covered with dirt. Thirty-one
10 and 11 year-olds stood around the freshly dug grave site. At this
point Donna announced, "Boys and girls, please join hands and bow
They quickly formed a circle around the grave, creating a bond with
They lowered their heads and waited. Donna delivered the eulogy.
"Friends, we gathered here today to honor the memory of 'I Can't.'
While he was with us here on earth, he touched the lives or everyone,
some more than others. We have provided 'I Can't' with a final resting
place and a headstone that contains his epitaph. He is survived by his
brothers and sisters, 'I Can,' 'I Will,' and 'I'm Going to Right Away.'
They are not as well known as their famous relative and are certainly
not as strong and powerful yet. Perhaps someday, with your help, they
will make an even bigger mark on the world. May 'I Can't' rest in peace
and may everyone present pick up their lives and move forward in his
As I listened I realized that these students would never forget this
day. Writing "I Cant's", Burying them and hearing the eulogy.
That was a major effort on this part of the teacher. And she wasn't
She turned the students around, marched them back into the classroom
and held a wake. They celebrated the passing of "I Can't"
with cookies, popcorn and fruit juices. As part of the celebration,
Donna cut a large tombstone from butcher paper. She wrote the words
"I Can't" at the top and put RIP in the middle. The date was
added at the bottom.
The paper tombstone hung in Donna's classroom for the remainder of the
On those rare occasions when a student forgot and said, "I Can't,"
Donna simply pointed to the RIP sign. The student then remembered that
"I Can't" was dead and chose to rephrase the statement.
I wasn't one of Donna's students. She was one of mine. Yet that day
I learned an enduring lesson from her as years later, I still envision
that fourth grade class laying to rest, "I Can't."