Articles - Page 3 of 11 - Mary Kienstra

Invite the Experts

By: Mary Kienstra on: June 23, 2016  in: #tlap, author, Engagement, , ,

Why is it that our students will sit and listen to total strangers in a way that they would never listen to their teacher? When we invite the experts to our classrooms, our students learn from primary sources.  They hear real information and listen in a new way. Last year, I invited experts of all kinds […] Read more



Summer is the Time to Learn for Teachers

By: Mary Kienstra on: June 20, 2016  in: Summer PD, ,

The biggest complaint from teachers is that there is never enough time.  Once the school year begins, the time just flies by – there is so much to do. But, summer…. Ah, summer.  This is the season when teachers have time.  Summer is the time to learn.  Yay Summer! Summer Spark at the University School in Milwaukee […] Read more


The Survey Project

By: Mary Kienstra on: May 22, 2016  in: #tlap, graphing, math engagement, , ,

What do you do at the end of the school year when the standard is data analysis?  Create a survey project!  It makes perfect sense.  Kids will care much more about analyzing the data that they collect than about any data presented in the text.  Let them create their own. Take a survey. Create a […] Read more


When Students Care

By: Mary Kienstra on: May 19, 2016  in: #tlap, non fiction

When students care, everything changes.  Fourth graders have a tremendous amount of compassion for animals.  What better way to hook them than to tap into that passion with the essential question, “Why should we care?” After studying the importance of sharks in the ocean, we continued the theme with more large mammals.  Timing is everything. […] Read more


A True Community

By: Mary Kienstra on: May 14, 2016  in: #tlap, community, reading

Some classes have the “IT” factor.  That’s the class where the kids all care.  Not about just the content.  They care for each other too. They are a true community.  They work together well and all seem to be pulling in the same direction.  I look at this year’s class and wonder what we did […] Read more


Creating Estimation Station Questions

By: Mary Kienstra on: May 11, 2016  in: creating, Engagement, measure

What happens when kids create their own Estimation Station questions?  They learn how to ask good questions, to measure, and to present their questions and answers in pictures.  And… while they work on math, they enjoy every minute of it. All year long the fourth graders have been estimating everything from times of songs, distances […] Read more


Bringing Non-Fiction to Life

By: Mary Kienstra on: April 28, 2016  in: Engagement, non fiction, reading

When kids care, it changes everything.  Engaging kids in non-fiction reading is all about bringing the topic to life.  The trick is finding an issue to make them care.  Tracking sharks and learning about the ocean is just that issue.  And www.ocearch.org brings it to life. This week my students met Chris Fischer, the founder of Ocearch. […] Read more


Heads Up Vocabulary Game

By: Mary Kienstra on: April 22, 2016  in: #tlap, geometry vocabulary, vocabulary

Why not use games to help kids learn vocabulary? It sure is much more engaging than handing them a list of words and telling them to memorize them.  This week my class is practicing geometry vocabulary words with the party game “Heads Up” and they are loving it.  Heads Up Vocabulary Games – an engaging […] Read more


Practicing Math Standards in Games

By: Mary Kienstra on: April 18, 2016  in: CCSS math, Engagement

There are so many ways to practice and assess math standards. It’s just too bad that many teachers think that a worksheet is the only reliable resource. Students are practicing math standards in games, engaging in ways that will surprise you.  This post will help you set up routines that your students will love. My class […] Read more