Saturday, November 17, 2012

To Memorize or Not to Memorize

As many of you know, I am currently living in Morocco with my husband and three young sons.  My two older sons (grades K and 3) go to a Moroccan school in French and Arabic.  Their school requires a lot of memorization and handwriting, and very little higher level thinking and creative writing.  I teach an the International School of Morocco in English.  My school spends a lot of time on creative writing, exploring and building critical thinking skills.  As a mother and a teacher, I often feel caught in the middle.  My sons go to the school they do because I want them to learn the language, but I do wish they spent more time learning the way that I teach.

I recently read an article that got me to thinking though that some of how they are learning is making them stronger learners in some ways.  My older son spends a lot of time memorizing – Memorization has helped my sons become stronger students.poems, verb conjugations, Koran verses, paragraphs about science, and the younger one is starting to come home with these same types of activities.  While this sometimes seems to be a waste of time, he is practicing the skills of memorizations and visualization.  When it comes time to memorize things that I think are important (like math facts), it comes a lot easier to him because he has spent time practicing this skill.  In addition, he has a ton of information stuck in his memory that he can connect his new information with.  Granted, his school does not seem to spend time teaching him how to make those connections, but he makes many connections on his own and my husband and I are helping him to make more connections.

Memorizing Facts is vital to making progress in math.In my own classroom, I am trying to use some of this to help my students.  I am finding that my students who have a background in schools that focus on memorization can learn and memorize things faster.  In order to build their memorizing ability, we are working on memorizing in class, using math facts, nursery rhymes, songs etc.  However, in my classroom, I take the time to show students 1.) why it’s important to memorize the things we need to memorize and 2.) how to connect this memorization to other things that don’t need to be memorized. 

Here are some specific places I have found to use memorization in my classroom:

Please stop by my blog – Raki’s Rad Resources for specific ideas on how to incorporate memory building ideas in your classroom.

How important is memorization in school near you?

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources  

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Friday, November 9, 2012

Choose The Free Resource You’d Like Me to E-mail You

Today I turn 30, and I’m trying not to think about it!  Come by Raki's Rad Resources and grab your FREE product as a birthday present from me.So, I decided to giveaway my store.  Everyone gets to choose their own present, from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  There are almost 400 items to choose from.  You can ask for anything from my store that is NOT a .zip folder.  (Last year the .zip folders jammed up my Outlook, lol!)

All you have to do to get your present is leave me a comment telling me what you like about my blog and what present you’d like me to send you.  Stop by my blog – Raki’s Rad Resources – November 9th or 10th to leave a comment and get your free gift.


Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources
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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Science Experiment - Pop Rocks & Soda

Have you ever heard the rumor that if you eat Pop Rocks and then drink soda, your stomach will explode?  Many students have heard this before so we decided to do a little research to see if this was a myth or if it was real.  Now, of course we didn’t test our experiment on human or an animal (even though one of my students willingly volunteered to be a test subject).  Instead, we used soda and a balloon to represent a human stomach.

First we gathered 3 different types of soda: Coke, Diet Coke, and Sprite. We made sure we used bottles of soda instead of canned soda.  Then we filled 3 different balloons with an entire package of Pop Rocks.

Our class made predictions about what they thought would happen.  All of the students figured out that we would witness some type of reaction, so I had the students vote on which type of soda they thought would create the biggest reaction.

Then we tested our hypothesis.  We chose 1 type of soda to test first. Very carefully (and in the sink... just in case), we placed the opening of the balloon over the mouth of a bottle of soda.

Then when we lifted the other end of the balloon up, the contents inside fell into the bottle of soda.  We waited and recorded our results.

After a few minutes, we noticed the balloon filling up with gas and expanding.  Then we did the same to the other 2 types of soda using our remaining balloons.

The students were able to conclude that while consuming Pop Rocks and soda wouldn’t be detrimental to your stomach, it would probably make you pretty gassy.

We concluded the experiment by watching the soda and Pop Rocks candy reaction under a microscope.  First we took a small granule of the candy and placed in on the slide.  Then we watched through the eyepiece as I used an eyedropper to slowly add soda to the granule.

Here are some pictures of what the reaction looked like.

The purpose of completing this activity was to get the students used to using the Scientific Method.  You could also use this to teach about gas, chemical reactions, or carbon dioxide.  All in all, this was a wonderful experiment that I will make sure to do with my students every year.

To view more information about this experiment visit

For more ideas on how to use candy during experiments (especially your leftover Halloween candy) visit

The Resourceful Teacher Blog
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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Winter Holiday Show

I teach at the International School of Morocco.  We have a truly international school, with over 15 countries represented in our small student body.  In order to make sure that all of the families feel included in the holiday celebrations, I created a truly multiculutral Holiday Show called Light Up the World with Celebrations.  It celebrates the fact that light is often used as a way to celebrate – through candles, lanterns, fireworks, luminaries etc. 

holidayplayNext week, the students at my school will begin to learn our lines. Each student K5 – 4th has a talking part, but most of the parts are short and sweet. My two strongest 4th graders will play the narrators with the most lines. (Grab a free copy of the play from my TPT store.)


Before we begin learning our lines for the play, we will begin learning about the holidays that our show covers with a Winter Holiday Powerpoint Presentation.  There are Winter Holidays Power Point Presentation - Including information on using light as a symbol in the holidays of Christmas, Haunakkah, Kwanza, Diwali, Ramadan, St. Martin's Day, St. Lucia's Day and New Years.many, many holidays discussed during the power point presentation and in our holiday show, including Christmas, Haunakkah, Kwanza, Diwali, Ramadan, St. Martin’s Day, St. Lucia’s Day and New Years. 


Also next week, the K4/K5 teacher, who is also the music teacher will begin working with the students on our two songs – This Little Light of Mine and Silent Night in 4 languages.  We’ll also be singing Happy Birthday in 4 languages, but we already sing those regularly, so that should be no sweat.

The week before we Winter Holiday Vocabulary - Four Free Differentiated Levels - Including information on Christmas, Haunakkah, Kwanza, and Diwali.deliver the play, my students in Grades 3 & 4 will do a more intensive study into four of the winter holidays with our Winter Holiday Vocabulary Packet.  (Grab a free copy from my TPT store.)

Holy Smokes are we going to be busy between now and Winter Vacation. 

What’s your class/school planning for the holidays?

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

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Thursday, November 1, 2012

This Just In...

This past week our school celebrated Grandparent’s day.  The students decorated our room with activities to show off to their special guest.  One of the activities I had them complete was a writing sample, showcasing all the fun things they like to do at school.  The students revealed their answers through a newspaper article.
Here are some samples:

If you would like to have your students write a newspaper article, you can download a copy of the  template I created by clicking here.
The Resourceful Teacher Blog
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