Free & new posters in TPT November 2019

Picture by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

It’s time to make new free & new products in TPT listing for November 2019. Today, I’ll be listing posters that you can print out and hang to your classroom wall. I can tell you there are many of them even if you take only the new ones into account, so I’ve done some picking and chosen those that look beautiful to my own eye. Subjects vary from mathematics to English language art and from sexual health education to physics. Resources are ordered by grade. Most of the posters are not that grade specific, but I’ve omitted kindergarten and preschool materials. Sometimes I’ve narrowed down very wide age ranges, that is represented by /.

Habits of discussion (Not grade specific)
Short guide for students to communicate respectfully.
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Habits-of-Discussion-Poster-5007847

Order of operations (grades 1-8 / 4-8)
Great when studying order of operations including powers and parenthesis. Description says for grades 1-8, but I’d say this could be confusing before powers have been introduced at all.
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Order-of-Operations-Poster-5003752

Ground rules for sexual health education (grades 4-12)
Encourages students to be respectful and speak about themselves or in general level, not about others.
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/FreeDownload/Sexual-Health-Education-Ground-Rules-5001200

Branches of Mathematics (grades 5-10)
Simplified interpretation about different fields of mathematics. Helps bit older studets to form a picture what mathematics can be.
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Branches-of-Mathematics-Poster-Free-5013657

Author’s purpose posters (Not grade specific / middle school and up)
Five posters each presenting one author purpose. It says on the description that this is not grade specific, but I think it fits best when you start reading longer and more diverse texts, so not in the very first grades.
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Authors-Purpose-Posters-5018533

Just Right Books Posters (Not grade specific / middle school and up)
Guides students to choose the right level book (I can imagine that is not always easy). Again, middle school and up is my opinion, not grade specific is author’s view.
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/FreeDownload/Just-Right-Books-Poster-5023413

Law of reflection (7-12)
For physics, law of reflection. Clear poster and worksheet is also included.
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Law-of-reflection-poster-and-worksheet-5001596

Shakespeare’s poets (grades 9-12)

Six Shakespeare’s poets with beautiful backgrounds. Also available in black and white.
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/FreeDownload/FREE-6-Shakespearean-Sonnets-on-POSTERS-COLOR-VERSION-for-classroom-decor-5000515

Organic compound concept map (grades 11 – higher education)
Colorful and clear concept map. Note that this is in jpg form.
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/ORGANIC-COMPOUNDS-CONCEPT-MAP-5004028

A Christmas Carol Character Profile Posters (grades 8-12)
Seven posters each presenting one character: Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, The Ghost of Christmas Past, The Ghost of Christmas Present, The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, Jacob Marley and Tiny Tim.
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/A-Christmas-Carol-Character-Profile-Posters-5011273

Hopefully you will enjoy these and other beautiful resources! New list next month, feel free to suggest new themes in the comments!

The one problem with coding in schools

It’s obvious that coding is coming to schools strongly in different countries around the globe. This is all good and will give future generations more skills working with computers, right?

I see a problem here, which is programming transforming from something very creative to a factory job. When programming is introduced to schools in such a massive way, it’s clear that teachers haven’t had time to really dive in to that subject. Don’t get me wrong; some of them are. But can you really expect from older teacher to use hours of them free time to study world of programming with absolytely 0 pay for their time?

Due the lack of time, we can reason that teachers rely widely to available resources like code.org. But this setting also means that programming becomes more like

  1. Question
  2. The one and only solution.

In the ideal world, after learning basics, students would start to desing their own programs, something they find interesting. But if the teacher is not really familiar with the subject, it’s hard to support that. I admit that this may still be possible in simple training environments such as Scratch, but you can’t stay with these simple environments forever.

Here is the personal confession of this post: I have studied computer science alongside with mathematics in university and made some projects along the years. I’m sometimes embarrassed how little I know. So many programming languages. So many libraries in those languages I know. Many of those languages could be justified to be teached for young people. There is enormous difference with my other subject, maths: Students can’t ask me a math question that I couldn’t answer.

And what is the problem if people are programming like robots? The answer is that they will be replaced with robots. So studying only the basics of programming won’t pay off. And what about motivational effect? We really can’t say. It’s likely that some students will get carried towards coding and others from it.

We have to make sure that programming will stay as creative job as it is on its best. That is done by making sure that students have specialized teachers on their reach.

Top 10 new & free puzzle downloads in TPT in October 2019

I’ll be listing here 10 new free puzzle resources from Teachers Pay Teachers. Grade level is mostly from upper elementary to middle school, so there is no kindergarten/preschool resources in this list. Most of them are very recent, but there might be slightly older resources among these to make it full 10. List is ordered by grade level.

Word Search Activity – “Autumn Words” – Fall – Grades 3-4
The title (which is in fact longer) says it all
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Weekly-Freebie-25-Word-Search-Activity-Autumn-Words-Fall-Grades-3-4-4902027

Animal picture puzzle task cards (3-5)
Find a value for each (cute!) animal
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Animal-Picture-Puzzle-Task-Cards-1-3561827

Halloween Word Search Puzzles (3-7)
Yes, it’s October and I’m sure you are already filled with pumpkins, but I got one Halloween relater resource for you
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Halloween-Word-Search-Puzzles-4922065

Word search puzzles Canada (grades 3-8)
Three word search puzzles about cities, mountains and rivers in Canada. Answer key is also included and if you want to, you can colour the flag on the cover page!
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Word-search-puzzles-Canada-Freebie-4908569

La Fecha (4-12)
Spanish cross wordpuzzle
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/La-Fecha-4921404

Pirate math polar buried treasure (grades 6-8)
Title mentions math, I’d say you also need some skills in English language, especially about common phrases. But looks interesting!
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Pirate-Math-Chapter-3-Polar-Buried-Treasure-FREE-4758584

Introduction to Fiber Optics (Grades 6-11)
I’m always a fan when something more specialised comes along, such as this introduction to fiber optics. Same seller had other similar products too, but I’m only listing one per seller here.
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Introduction-to-Fiber-Optics-4902695

Pirates & Cannibals logic puzzle (7-12)
This is listed under computer science, but it’s purely logic puzzle. I think you could use it with slightly younger students.
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Pirates-Cannibals-4926895

Logigramme (Grades 9-12)
Logic puzzle in French! It says grades 9-12 but I think it would suit for younger students too, if they have some basic French vocabulary already.
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Logigramme-Joyeux-Anniversaire-3513058

Common polyatomic word search tile letter pattern (11-higher education)
I have to admit that I didn’t quite get the concept on first read but hey, this was for smart people! I’m looking forward to see what he produces next.
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/COMMON-POLYATOMIC-Word-Search-TILE-LETTER-PATTERN-4908972

Enjoy these and other free resources!

The future of this blog

It may seem that I’ve forgotten all about it, but that’s not the case. The thing is that I got bit exited about Teachers pay teachers and have been planning some new materials there. Something to support math teachers (as you know, math is my only true love) but also for teaching geography. When possible, I’m incorporating two things in the same material. Some examples:

Skakespeare & order of operations where you practise calculating basic operations and become familiar with names of all Shakespeare plays (list of plays is from britannica.com).

Powers and cities of the world Here tasks are relatively simple powers, and words to find are some of the greatest cities of the world and related countries. These are mainly by population but I’ve done some editing and tried to pick more cities from different areas and left some Chinese mega cities out, as they are numerous.

I have also created many word search puzzles and grouped them by themes such as geographical areas. Some names contain extra characters, like é and I have generally included those characters (with some rare exceptions).

In math, I have focused on much practise, and those practise sheets often contain several hundred basic tasks with answers.

I’d like to ask you what kind of material you would like to use, but to be honest my spam filter isn’t working properly and it may take some time for me to find your suggestions. You can also contact me via Twitter or TPT private message.

Let’s hear from you!

What’s new in Scratch 2019?

I was suprised when I opened Scratch recently because the whole look had changed. It turned out that new version was released on January 2, 2019. It’s called Scratch 3.0.

The new look itself doesn’t affect much on functionality, but there are some completely new features. First of all, I’d like to notify plugins.

Plugins

You can access plugins form left down corner of browser window. Click this icon and new window with selection of plugins will appear:

Text to Speech

You can make your program speek with Text to Speech. There are around 10 major languages and some minor, like Icelandic. There are two human-like voices (alto and tenor), two more altered (squeack and giant) and one joke (kitten).

Translate

To test translate tool, you must put translation block inside some other block. For example say (Hello) for (2) seconds -block under Looks is good for testing. I tried this and translated English sentences to Finnish and I was surprised how well it worked.

Micro:bit

Micro:bit is simple, small device designed by BBC. It has 5×5 LED display, buttons and motion sensors. In comparison to famous Rasperry Pi 3, micro:bit is simpler. With Scratch, you can for example make texts show letter by letter in micro:bit’s display.


Lego Mindstorms EV3

Lego Mindstorm EV3 is more high-end product for building robots from bricks, and it also works with Scratch now.

Old things, new locations

One thing worth noting is that you can set your character’s initial position, direction and size straight away under your game window. This is quick and easy if you want for example to make you sprite certain size. However, if you want to set starting position to object that will move during the game, you must still use go to block at the beginning of your code.

New backdrops and sprites

Of course, there are some new backdrops and sprites and also an option to set suprise sprite or backdrop. That will certainly give some new and refreshing ideas!

Phones

You can now play projects on phones but editing has to be done with a computer. (In fact, I managed to make couple lines of code on mobile but it was extremely unpractical.)

Other

There are new editors for painting and sounds. Internet Explorer is not supported. You can set drag mode (whether your sprite can be dragged with mouse or not.)

Super easy labyrinth game with Scratch

  1. First, you’ll need a maze. You can use your own or download this:

To make things simple, make sure that whichever maze you use, it has no openings. This is how we avoid player form coming out of the maze and just bypass it from outside.

2. Download your maze of choice as a backdrop:

3. Delete the cat

4. Pick new sprite (character)

Double click the one you want. In this example, I choose Ladybug1.

5. Edit sprite’s costume

6. Draw a box around your sprite with mouse. (Click and drag the box over to opposite corner.)

Now, click on one corner and drag the sprite smaller. Good size with this maze is somewhere around 20×20, I use in this example 18×19. You can check the size here:

It’s not a problem if it’s not perfect square, for example 17×19. Just make sure that both numbers are small enough for your sprite to walk in the maze without touching the walls.

Now the code:

Make sure that your starting coordinates are right. 

To get the touching color right, first click the box that has the color in it, then click at black part of the labyrinth. 

This is now very basic, we could add some goal to the end:

There are several ways you can make this game better if you want to. Here are some ideas:

  • Time to complete the labyrinth
  • Some collectables
  • Player moving all the time, only the speed is altered when player uses keyboard
  • More levels

Find more free and paid Scratch materials at my Teachers Pay Teachers shop.

Dangerous calculate in your head -tips

I’ve been exposed to some calculate big numbers in your head -tips in social media. At first, I thought that’s nice. It’s good mental practice to use one’s own brain instead of calculator. But then when I look closer, I see that some of them are poorly defined.

Here is an example of squares of large numbers: 102 x 102 = 10404. The tip says: take the original number and add the last digit to it, so 104. Then, take the last digit and square it, use two digits. That means 04. Now these to should be concatenated like this: 10404. Seems to work. But the important question is when you can use this in the first place? There is no range mentioned in the tip.

Ok, you can say that this works for numbers 101,…,109. If you really want to make an effort and memorize this rule for those calculations, go for it. But I see a real danger that students are not so punctilious that they check all these tips before using them on any numbers (greater that 100.) This is bad for credibility of well formulated tips, too.

Best regards,
Concerned Math Teacher.

2 easy and 2 professional ways to teach coding

I’ve been teaching coding (along mathematics) for kids aged 9-16 for several years. I’ve proceeded in this order:

  • code.org
  • Scratch
  • Python
  • Unity

First two are quite easily doable for teacher/parent with no programming experience. About the last two, I personally think that Unity is more appealing for today’s youngsters, but as an example of text-based coding Python is ok.

Code.org

Contains several lesson for different age groups. Still, consider your pupils experience before starting. If they have no experience at all, they could shortly go through materials for younger kids before proceeding to their own age group and vice versa. If you have no experience yourself, it’s highly advisable that you do the lessons yourself beforehand. Make sure that you find the ways to use suggested amount of code lines, as there are sometimes many ways to solve a task, usually the shorter the better. Link: code.org

Scratch

Compared to code.org, Scratch is more open environment. It needs Flash player. You can actually do your own games if you’re registered user, for others to play. Coding happens by dragging blocks from left to right. Here is a picture of one of the most basic programs in Scratch:

Pay attention to block colors; color of the block will tell you from which block group it’s from.

  1. Every program has to start somewhere. This will start when clicking the green flag. This is a common way to start Scratch program. (Other common option is starting with a key from keyboard.)
  2. Forever-loop is important. Otherwise program will end before user gets to press anything.
  3. There is a coordinate system. Using this system makes it easier to move the way you intended. Other option is to use steps, but then you have to be cautious with direction. Steps always uses direction to determine where to go.

And there you go! You can modify this basic program in numerous ways.

Python

Sometimes you need an example of text-based programming language and Python is one of these. It’s relatively simple to learn. It can be used many ways:

  • Install Python to your computer. Write code to .py text-file and compile it. This is the hardest way, but best if you write longer programs. If you’re using Windows, change path-environment variable from settings according to where your python.exe is located.
  • Install Python to your computer and use ide that comes with installation. Ide means that you can write code and see the results right away.
  • If you don’t want to install it (yet), you can use online ide, such as ideone.com There you can also use other programming languages. Downside is that if you are not careful, you may lose some work.

Here are some very basic examples (and by the way, printing doesn’t mean it prints on paper, only on screen):

Printing numbers form 0 to 9:

for i in range(10):
	print i;

Printing multiplication table of 5:

for i in range (10):
	print ((i+1)*5);

Printing first Fibonacci numbers:

numberA=1;
numberB=1;
temporary=0;
while(numberA<1000):
	print numberA;
	temporary=numberA+numberB;
	numberA=numberB;
	numberB=temporary;
Unity

Unity unites text-based coding to graphical interface, making it fast and relatively easy to develop games. Several commercial games have been created with unity, see list of examples here. Unity is not the only one of it’s kind, but it is definitely one of the most significant game engines.

Good news is that Unity is free for private use and even when you are earning a little with your game you’ve developed. I’m not eager to put any specific details here, please check from Unity’s website if you have any questions with licences.

I have a plan to make some Unity related content for educators but that idea is still in its infancy. Before that, you can check their own learning page: https://unity3d.com/learn

Happy childhood is a myth

Which is the happiest age for human being? I did some googling and the most significant results shows that happiness curve seems to be u-shaped. In these graphs human life is at its worst around 40 years of age. But, these charts start from around age 15-16 so they really say nothing about childhood.

Still, most of us have probably heard talks about happy childhood. Idealized pictures of happy kids, maybe. Life with children may not seem so perfect in today’s talks, but problems related to running a family are seen as adults’ problems, and kids don’t have to worry about them. That’s how it’s supposed to be, children don’t have to worry about every problem. But does that necessarily mean that kids are happy and even the more important question, should they be happy?

Let me paint a mental picture of certain kid. He is doing ok in the sense that nothing is particularly wrong. School mornings are tiresome, homework is usually doable but feels boring. Maybe he has some hobby, which requires going to training couple times a week. Does he feel happy? Probably not that much. After all, he is doing on daily basis things that someone else has designed for him. He may have chose the hobby himself (not necessarily even that), but training schedules are off his hands.

What about school then? A reasonable kid understands that school is useful for his future, but the payoff is years away. If we compare that to adult who goes to work: An adult can tell himself that he is waking up early to get money, and that payday is less than month away! So we expect kids to motivate themselves with things that are years away, time period that is more than their age. Would you be motivated every day, if you had 100 years for the next payday? I’d say that it’s harder for kids to motivate themselves through daily necessities.

Adults may have stress to keep things together and make a living and yes, that can be really stressful sometimes. But they have couple things to make life easier for them: First, adults can usually make adjustments and chooses of where to live and other chooses of money usage. They can even affect to people living in same household, at least you don’t have to keep a spouse if he/she is causing much trouble. If you are a child and for example brother or sister is harmful to you, you still have to live with your siblings.

I don’t mean that childhood is miserable. In somewhat normal cases it’s not.

My point is that children should be informed that there is no pressure to have a happy childhood. And that it’s perfectly normal to be happier as an adult than as a child.

Even if parent remembers mostly happy things from his/her own childhood, that is no reason to leave this information untold. Humans’ memory is not that good and can distort things. Even if the parent has the clearest memory imaginable and remembers his/her childhood was happy, there is notable possibility that child has got different kind of personality and sees this differently. This is no matter of parent(s) being good or bad, just that sole information can make child feeling better.

Unofficial remarks on Finnish school system (part 1: Literacy)

It’s been widely noticed that Finnish school system definitely has some good properties. You can find official description for example on https://www.oph.fi/english/education_system but in this series I take into consideration some features that may not come into attention internationally that often.

Literacy rate in Finland is very high. Wikipedia uses Unesco 2015 list that doesn’t have Finland in it, other sources claim it to be even 100% [1]. This is rounded number, but we can anyway say that literary rate has been very high for decades.

The language

It’s said that Finnish language is very difficult, it’s conjugations are numerous. That’s true, it’s hard for foreigner to master these perfectly. But, when you can speak Finnish, it’s ridiculously easy to read. All letters have one-to-one pronunciation. Exceptions are very rare and minor. Here is a major advantage to English speaking kids, who almost have to learn new language, written English after learning spoken English.

Donald Duck

Wait, what some old Disney character has to do with this? Donald Duck (Aku Ankka in Finnish) is an institution when talking about magazines in Finland. It’s by reader count the most popular magazine if free [2][3] magazines are left out.  Reader count is bit bigger than number of under 20 year olds [4] , because some adults read it, too.

Lively language used in Aku Ankka has received several awards. University of Helsinki noted Aku Ankka in 2001 [5]  and Finnish Mensa in 2014 [6].

Television

You may know that it’s common to dub TV shows to other languages? In Finland, programs that are intended for adults are never dubbed. Programs for teenage audience very rarely are dubbed, either. Dubbing is for kids, and self-respecting 10+ years old can watch television with subtitles. If you are a school kid in Finland and want to see original (or new) Star Wars movies for example, you have to be able to read subtitles fast enough to keep in track. That’s one thing that adds motivation.

The last random fact

Finland has been under Swedish reign for centuries and Swedish language has been the language in society’s top layers for long, too. One of the first novels written purely in Finnish was Aleksis Kivi’s Seven Brothers. It’s a growth story of seven orphan brothers. One part of the novel describes how it’s very difficult for this boys to learn to read and their theacher is harsh on them. But, they bang their heads on the wall (methaphorically) until they figure it out and that will give them church permission to marry. That is one of the stories Finnish school children have to get familiar with.

To sum it up, in Finland, there is a very strong assumption that every proper citizen can read. It’s the matter of discussion wether reading and understanding read text has gone downhill due to digitalization.

Random numeric facts about the author:
5 Number of years she’s been teaching in Finnish public school (other than public schools are rare exceptions.)
8 The author’s grade in English language (scale 4-10) in Finnish school. That should explain funny grammar/word choises in text.
20 Number of years the author has been a subscriber to Aku Ankka magazine.

References and notes:
[1] https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-highest-literacy-rates-in-the-world.html (English)
[2] Some corporations send magazines to their customers, but people won’t pay a penny for those, so these aren’t quite comparable. (Yhteishyvä for S-Group, Pirkka for Kesko and OP magazine for Osuuspankki.)
[3] http://www.aikakauslehdet.fi/Etusivu/Tietoa–Tutkimuksia/Levikkeja-ja-lukijamaaria/Lukijamaarat-Suomessa/Lukijamaariltaan-suurimmat/ (Finnish)
[4] https://www.tilastokeskus.fi/tup/suoluk/suoluk_vaesto.html (Finnish)
[5] https://web.archive.org/web/20080612222837/http://www.helsinki.fi/hum/skl/helmi2001.htm (Finnish)
[6] https://www.mensa.fi/wordpress/?p=851 (Finnish)