Articles - Page 3 of 11 - Mary Kienstra

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


The Stock Market Game

By: Mary Kienstra on: April 10, 2016  in: Engagement, Math, stock market

When I announced to my 5th graders that we’d be playing the stock market game and buying stocks, my students replied, “What are stocks?”  A week later, they were exclaiming, “Let’s buy 100 shares of Panera!” If you haven’t seen www.stockmarketgame.org, check it out.  This site has everything you need to teach your students about financial literacy […] Read more


And the Winner Is…

By: Mary Kienstra on: April 6, 2016  in: #tlap, creating, Engagement

The first day back after Spring Break is a good day for something out of the ordinary – like revealing the winner of the Book Madness!  So today was the day.  I gathered my students around the book madness brackets.  You know, the bulletin board covered in black with the “DO NOT PEEK” sign.  I […] Read more


The Trial of Sponge Bob

By: Mary Kienstra on: March 24, 2016  in: #tlap, Engagement, reading

Teachers see The Trial of Sponge Bob as a reading lesson where kids practice using evidence from the text to support their ideas.  Kids see it as FUN! The week before Spring Break is a difficult week in an elementary school.  As the excitement level continues to rise, it’s more and more difficult for the […] Read more


It’s Time for Book Madness 2016

By: Mary Kienstra on: March 21, 2016  in: authentic audience, Engagement, reading

March is a time for new beginnings as flowers sprout up through the soil and the sun begins to shine just a bit brighter.  March is also known for March Madness as college basketball takes over our world of sports.  In my class in March, it’s time for Book Madness 2016! Book Madness is a […] Read more