Articles - Mary Kienstra

Eight Great Ways to Learn the Coordinate Plane

By: Mary Kienstra on: April 18, 2017  in: coordinate grid, dance, Engagement, Uncategorized

When kids live the coordinate plane they actually remember it.  Try these eight great ways to get kids to understand and remember the coordinate plane. 1. LIVE IT: Arrange the classroom on the coordinate grid.  Attach tape to the floor and arrange the desks with “addresses” that represent the plane.  As students come in, they pick […] Read more


One Book One School: Generating Reading Excitement

By: Mary Kienstra on: April 14, 2017  in: #tlap, Engagement, reading

Every teacher in every school is looking for ways to generate reading excitement.  How do we get kids more excited to read?  How do we motivate them?  How do we make reading fun for everyone?  This year was our first One Book One School.  It was a huge success. We started with the idea that […] Read more


Book Madness 2017: Reading in the Brackets

By: Mary Kienstra on: April 2, 2017  in: #tlap, creating, Engagement, reading

Filling out a bracket for March Madness is always exciting.  Which team will be this year’s “Cinderella?”  How will my favorite team do?  Which team will win it all?   A few years ago I decided to capitalize on this excitement.  In my classroom, it’s Book Madness 2017: Reading in the Brackets!  If the brackets […] Read more


Box Multiplication: Showing the Distributive Property

By: Mary Kienstra on: March 9, 2017  in: algebra, distributive property, Math,

Box multiplication makes multiplying double digits concrete to young mathematicians.  Instead of wondering where to put the digits and why they go there, kids are thinking of the area model of multiplication and filling in the boxes.  The best thing about box multiplication is how easily it translates to the distributive property.   Learning to multiply […] Read more


My First Hyperdoc: Engaging Interaction

By: Mary Kienstra on: February 6, 2017  in: Engagement, hyperdoc, reading

I’m not sure when I first saw a HyperDoc, but I knew right away that was something I wanted to try.  After reading the book with my PLC,  I was ready.  I created my first hyperdoc to use with my reading class for our historical fiction unit.  I know it will not be my last. […] Read more


Choosing a Business Partner – Kid Style

By: Mary Kienstra on: February 4, 2017  in: #tlap, Engagement

There are times when students need to work together on a project for an extended period of time.  Sometimes those partnerships are just awkward.  You know how kids are – they are not always that excited about working with certain kids.  I think I found a way to make this situation a bit easier.  Make […] Read more


Pattern Blocks – Making Fractions Real

By: Mary Kienstra on: February 3, 2017  in: fractions, math engagement

Understanding fractions is so much easier when kids can touch the models.  Pattern blocks are making fractions real.  They are the perfect models just for that.  Today I introduced fractions to my third graders with pattern blocks.  And they got it. We started with thinking that the yellow hexagon represents one.  From there we investigated what the other […] Read more


Hanging on to Clothesline Math

By: Mary Kienstra on: January 18, 2017  in: Engagement, percent, proportional thinknig

Most concepts are just more easily understood when they are made more concrete.  Clothesline math is the concrete representation of percents that helps students understand.  As my students shared their thinking during one of our clothesline math lessons, I wondered why it took me so long to try this.  Now my students are hanging on to […] Read more


Two Words: Small Group

By: Mary Kienstra on: December 31, 2016  in: assessment, differentiation, Engagement, feedback

So many teaching strategies come and go.  There’s always a new idea or the latest gimmick to engage kids in learning.  We have endless lists of buzz words and terms that describe various aspects of teaching and learning.  Of all the strategies I’ve employed, the one that engages my students the most consistently is two words: […] Read more


Breakout!

By: Mary Kienstra on: December 30, 2016  in: #tlap, student engagement, teamwork, thinking

It is all that.  Breakout is the best new gimmick in student engagement.  Give a group a series of locks and puzzles and watch them go to work problem solving as a team. My class of 4th and 5th graders recently read The BFG as part of the Global Read Aloud 2016.  (See my post about […] Read more