In 1977, my second year of teaching, I noticed that my students would learn each new objective in math, but that without periodic review, old lessons would fade away. I wanted to be able to regularly and efficiently review all previously learned material as we progressed through various units: geometry, fractions, rounding, finding the average, etc.
[“Finding the average,” BTW, was what we called it back then. The terms mean, median, mode, and range were not used in K-8 math curricula. I learned those later in grad school statistics. Now they are introduced by 5th grade, if not before — for better or worse.]
I was sure that I was on to something that no one else had ever dreamed of and felt protective of the idea. I had started creating “MathRev” worksheets at various levels, and when I left that job (at the elementary school on Williams AFB, which no longer exists), a fellow teacher who had played a very minor part in my new program had a few items related to it in her classroom. I retrieved them to make sure she did not make off with them. In the main, I have anything but an inflated sense of self, but in this case, I was sure I would eventually make my mark and publish the program with resounding success.
Now, more than 40 years later, I have the insight and humility to see that, as far as education is concerned, there is indeed “nothing new under the sun.” Of course, others had thought of a continuous math review program, though many textbooks at the time gave review short shrift. The time I spent over the years putting a rough version of the review together, first by literally cutting and pasting problems of all types onto sheets of paper, then enlisting my sister Deb’s help in formalizing it using Excel, could have instead been spent in much worthier ways — reading and relaxing, for instance. My ageing process would certainly have been slowed by that change of habit.
The very best of teachers in my view (and musicians too, by the way) are humble, open, generous people who share their ideas and talents freely. I don’t begrudge (much) those who have made their fortunes selling what could have been freely shared for the common benefit, but I reserve my true admiration for the most open-hearted among us.
Teachers, of course, often need to augment their incomes somehow, so I appreciate the website Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT). A membership is required in order to access the materials on TpT, but enrollment is free. With all the desktop publishing now available, creative teachers who have devised adjunct teaching tools for all kinds of curricula make their efforts available, earn some extra money, and yet keep prices very affordable. It is mostly other teachers, after all, who need these materials, and they couldn’t afford them if they were expensive!
Much of what’s on the site will be useful to parents and grandparents as well. If your child is having issues with any academic skills, from letter formation to fraction algorithms to operations on integers and beyond, you can find relevant, invaluable help in these teachers’ work. Many items are free to download; others cost a few dollars at most, with the higher-priced items being most useful to teachers who need to serve a whole classroom for months at a time.
I have a modest page on Teachers Pay Teachers, which is accessible here. As with the “TpT” site in general, many items that I’ve created are free, and some cost a few dollars. They include the above-mentioned letter formation practice, numeral formation, add/subtract facts, some great little b/d differentiation posters, and fraction algorithm flow charts. (The last two of these were created by my daughter, Katie Plattner, during her stint as my assistant one summer.) I make only pennies from this page, but by participating in this worthy organization, I earn my membership in the club of the teachers I admire!
NOTE: I recently ran across the website of another sharing teacher, Dr. Robert Sweetland. It’s full of thoughts, insights and teaching resources. Recommended!