I received word this morning that I’ve been chosen as one of three teachers to participate in the Cultural Exploration of Greater China program!!! I couldn’t be more delighted! I will probably be speaking in exclamation points all day!

I am so grateful to the folks with the CE foundation, who took great care in getting to know me, in clarifying with me what my goals are, and in ensuring that we were a good match for each other. I’m glad we are, and I can’t wait to get started on this journey!

I use the word journey because from the start, this has been more than simply a trip or, goodness forbid, a vacation. This will be a powerful opportunity for my students and colleagues to travel across the globe with me. I am so proud to be an ambassador of Wildwood Elementary School, and, by extension, of Seattle University’s MIT program and AmeriCorps.

This will be a whirlwind ride. One of the CE interview questions that stuck with me the most was “How do you know you won’t get burnt out?” It’s a completely valid question, because it’s one people have been asking me since I was 13 years old. I recognize that I’m an extremely busy person. However, my time in AmeriCorps and at Seattle University has helped develop my ability to reflect. I know when I’m overbooked. I know when I’m misusing my energy on something I’m not passionate about. I know when I need to take a break. I’m even working on saying “no,” and I believe I’m much improved.

I owe tremendous thank yous to all the folks at the CE foundation. They are an extremely focused, well-organized group of people, and their dedication to their program is very apparent. I also need to thank Jenna Brown and Barb Burn, who gave insights to the CE members as to who I am as a person and as an educator. And of course, I need to thank my 24 third graders, who have been keeping their fingers crossed for the past month or so. I’m so excited! Let’s travel together!


Lines, Line Segments, and Rays

Today’s our last day before Spring Break, and we’re taking our Unit 6 assessment on geometry so we don’t have to worry about it after break. Here’s one of the songs we came up with for remembering the difference between lines, line segments, and rays:

Lines, Line Segments, and Rays
To the tune of “Silent Night”

A line is straight
Goes on forever
Add two points
Still a line? Never!
Now it’s a line seggggment
One point is a ray

Lines, line segments, and rayyyyyyys!
Lines, line segments, and rays!

We have gestures that go along with the dance too. One of these days I’m going to figure out how to get a halfway decent audio or video recording, and rest assured that as soon as I do I will post it promptly!


Polygon Song

I can’t claim to have come up with this delightful tune, which my students use to help remember the different types of polygons. I do need to create one for the different types of quadrilaterals, which always seems to be a problem spot for kids 2nd grade on up.

When we sing our version of this song, we usually go up a half-step in pitch at each new verse, just to change things up.Wait, There’s More Sides!
To the Tune of “Alice the Camel”

Polygons with three sides, triangle
Polygons with four sides, quadrilateral
Polygons with five sides, pentagon
But wait! There’s more sides!

Polygons with six sides, hexagon
Polygons with seven sides, heptagon
Polygons with eight sides, octagon
But wait! There’s more sides!

Polygons with nine sides, nonagon
Polygons with ten sides, decagon
Polygons with two sides, just an angle
And now we are done!

We also love reading Marilyn Burns’ The Greedy Triangle during this unit.


Operations Song

We just finished a unit on multi-digit addition and subtraction. I thought I was going to tear my hair out reviewing and re-reviewing the four main operations. We use our arms to gesture addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, so as I call out “Sum! Difference! Product! Quotient!” it winds up turning into a dance of sorts.

But we still couldn’t get consistent answers. We kept mixing up sum and difference. So I turned once more to a song. I’m looking for a catchier title…

To the Tune of “Ode to Joy”

Pro-duct answ-ers mul-tipli-ca-tion     (X)
Sum is act-ually a-ddition               (+)
Quo-tient is div-i-sion a-nd              (/)
Diffe-rence is sub-tra-ction            (-)

I attempted to put in the rhythmic breakdowns so you could see how I wound up singing it. I’ve had a few people ask me to record my songs, but although I can sing just fine, my voice sounds miserable when it’s recorded. I’m trying to figure out how to recruit my kids to help me out. I’ll definitely keep you posted!

Copyright 2009 Shannon Houghton


Gallon Man

Here is a song our class uses to remember the units of US capacity. We hope it’s useful to you, and we would appreciate it if you leave us a comment if you use it in your class!

If You Need a Gallon Man
To the Tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It”

If you need a Gallon Man, you need 4 quarts
If you need a Gallon Man, you need 8 pints
If you need a Gallon Man, 16 cups can be your plan
If you need a Gallon Man, you need 4 quarts.

Because a gallon, don’t you know, equals 4 quarts
And a quart, don’t you know, equals 2 pints
And if a pint is where you stand, then 2 cups can be your plan
‘Cause if you need a Gallon Man, you need 4 quarts

Copyright 2009 Shannon Houghton