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Is It Called "Fall" or "Autumn"?

It's finally September, one of my favorite months of the year. September means football (Ohio State, of course), cooler weather and gorgeous leaves. September also brings the start of fall. This season is called fall because it is the time deciduous trees shed their leaves.

Another name for fall is autumn, a rather odd name to me.  Through research, I discovered that the word autumn is from the Old French autumpne, automne, which came from the Latin autumnus. Autumn has been in general use since the 1960's and means the season that follows summer and comes before winter.
Fall is the most common usage among those in the United States; however, the word autumn is often interchanged with fall in many countries including the U.S.A. It marks the transition from summer into winter, in September if you live in the Northern Hemisphere or in March if you live in the Southern Hemisphere.  It also denotes when the days are noticeably shorter and the temperatures finally start to cool off. In North America, autumn is considered to officially start with the September equinox. This year that was September 23rd.
With all of that said, the leaves in our neighbor's yard have already begun to fall into ours which aggravates my husband because he is the one who gets to rake them. Maybe focusing on some activities using leaves will divert his attention away from the thought of raking to science investigations.  
Remember ironing leaves between wax paper?  We did that in school when I was a little girl (eons and eons ago).  Here is how to do it.
  1. Find different sizes and colors of leaves.
  2. Tear off two sheets about the same size of waxed paper.
  3. Set the iron on "dry".  No water or steam here!
  4. The heat level of the iron should be medium.
  5. Place leaves on one piece of the waxed paper.
  6. Lay the other piece on top.
  7. Iron away!
You can also use this activity to identify leaves.  According to my husband who knows trees, leaves and birds from his college studies, we "waxed" a maple leaf, sweet gum leaf, elm leaf, cottonwood leaf (the state tree of Kansas - they are everywhere), and two he doesn't recognize because they come from some unknown ornamental shrubs.

Maybe you would like to use leaves as a science investigation in your classroom.  I have one in my Teacher
Leaf Investigation
Pay Teachers store that is a six lesson science performance demonstration for the primary grades. The inquiry guides the primary student through the scientific method and includes 1) exploration time, 2) writing a good investigative question, 3) making a prediction, 4) designing a plan, 5) gathering the data, and 6) writing a conclusion based on the data. Be-leaf me, your students will have fun!

(A preview of the investigation is available. Just click on the title under the resource cover.) 

A Go Figure Debut for a Duo Who Are New!

This week, I would like to introduce two elementary teachers who work on the same fourth grade team in west Michigan.  (Uh-Oh! I'm an Ohio State fan; so that makes us rivals!)  Amy has been teaching for 12 years. She began her career teaching in a 3rd-5th grade classroom of students with emotional impairments. She is now in her fifth year as a fourth grade teacher and is loving every minute of it. She tries to find engaging and challenging ways for her students to apply their knowledge of the fourth grade standards every day! She claims to be "obsessed" (that's another word for fanatical) with curriculum. She tells me that she loves picking apart the standards and finding new and creative ways to deliver them.

Last year, Molly joined the fourth grade team Amy was on. Molly has been teaching for four years. She spent the previous two years in a fifth grade classroom just down the hall  from Amy. Molly is driven to provide higher level thinking activities that allow her students to apply the information she has presented over the course of a unit. She loves getting her students to think, and she is constantly looking for new and innovative ways to encourage them to think outside of the box.

Both Amy and Molly have a passion for creating and developing solid units of study that give students an opportunity to apply their knowledge and think deeply about their learning. Opening a Teachers Pay Teachers store together and sharing their work with other teachers has been their dream for some time now. They also have an interesting blog entitled Two Nutty Teachers Teachin' from the Same Tree.

They currently have 34 products in their store, five of which are free.  I especially like the free resource Experimenting with the Scientific Method. This eight page resource is a perfect tool for teaching the Scientific Method! While following the process, the students view the scientific method in action by performing an experiment using gummy bears. (Yeah - FOOD!) The product is formatted in a way so that it can be used individually or added into a Interactive Science Journal. By downloading this FREEBIE, you will receive suggestions on how to use the download, steps to run the experiment, and seven one-half-page graphic organizers for all the steps of the Scientific Method.

From their paid products I chose Fractions and Line Plots, A Three Season Collection.  These are season themed task cards (fall, winter and spring) that teach students how to create a line plot with fractions! The cards include real-world situations that your class can relate to in order to help them understand the steps involved in this difficult process. In the CCSS aligned 88 page product, Amy and Molly explain how they use this download in their own classrooms

Included in this product are the following:
  1. Steps for Creating a Line Plot Handout
  2. 18 Group Task Cards (with answers)
  3. A set of questions to go with EACH task card (with answers)
  4. Six example activities (with answers)
So take some time to check out these Two Nutty Teachers who seem to be doing amazing things together. They both thank you in advance and for taking part in their journey!

Accentuate the Positive - Eliminate the Negative

Have you ever wondered why a negative number times a negative number equals a positive number?  As my mathphobic daughter would say, "No, Mom.  Math is something I never think about!"  Well, for all of us who tend to be left brained people, the question can be answered by using a pattern.  (Have you noticed a reoccurring theme in my articles?  All Math is Based on Patterns!

Let's examine 4 x -2 which means four sets of -2.  Using the number line above, start at zero and move left by twos - four times. Voila!  The answer is -8.  Locate -8 on the number line above.  Now try 3 x -2.  Again, begin at zero on the number line, but this time move left by twos - three times. Ta-dah!  We arrive at -6.  Therefore, 3 x -2 = -6.

Here is what the mathematical sequence looks like.  Moving down the sequence, observe that the farthest left hand column decreases by one each time, while the -2 remains constant. Simultaneously, the right hand answer column increases by 2 each time.  Therefore, based on this mathematical pattern, we can conclude that a negative times a negative equals a positive!!!!

Isn't mathematics amazing?