Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Landform Books

I sometimes wonder if I change grade levels just to explore new books.  It's a simple equation!  New grade level + new content standards = reasons to find new books.  I decided I needed to save money and get back to borrowing books from the library.  I did that, only to discover these books were worth owning and paperback copies were ordered.

We just finished working with maps and learning about different landforms.  Capstone Press has a great series with pieces I could use for providing focused and concise information about three landforms or bodies of water; rivers, mountains, and islands.  Each book has information on the left page of a two page spread with a full page photograph on the right side of the spread.  The text on each page is about four to six lines.  Each book informs the reader how the landform is formed, famous land formations, and how people interact or use the landform.  Each book has nonfiction features to help early readers navigate; a table of contents, a glossary, other book suggestions for the topic and internet resources.  One feature I really enjoy about the the books by Capstone Press under the Pebble Plus subtitle is the amount of white space on between the lines of text.  It really helps early readers navigate reading much easier.

The books I found and just had to order were - 

Islands by Kimberly M Hutmacher


Mountains by Kimberly M Hutmacher


Rivers by Alyse Sweeney


Thank you Alyson for hosting Nonfiction Wednesday, it's nice to visit again.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Slice of Life - Help Needed

On Tuesday afternoon (of last week) at dismissal, a little boy was telling me he was confused with a part he was reading in his book.  I mentioned we could meet tomorrow and talk about it.  We could have a reading meeting.  I had been wanting to conference with this little boy about his book selection for about a week but was torn because his reading behaviors had improved with this book.  He had stamina, focus, and was leading a readerly life by taking the book back and forth from home and school for reading.  He told me his dad had forgotten about him and he just kept on reading because he was in the reading zone not just one night but two nights in a row.  Wednesday came and at the end of the day he reminded me about the reading meeting and I apologized for forgetting and we could do it tomorrow.  Thursday came and I had to fit in a bunch of content so our reading time turned into a small research project and our reading meeting was postponed again.  We didn't have school on Friday.

Monday came and the conversation was a faint memory in my mind until at the end of reading workshop this cute little boy came over and said, "Mrs. Robek you forgot about my reading meeting."  I gushed with apologies and promised tomorrow.  He replied, "I will write you a note."  I soon received a little yellow post it note and in black sharpie which we use to make this brighter and stronger it said - Meeting with Nathan.  I placed it right by my rocking chair in hopes it would help me uphold my end of the teacher - student bargain.  It did!  As I was doing status of the class, when it was Nathan's turn to share what he was reading and where he was, I waved the little post it note to him and he just beamed that I had remembered.  

I am grateful Nathan saw I needed help.  I'm not proud I forgot for a few days or let the schedule of school prevent me from stopping the first time he asked to chat about his book.  However, he persevered and with persistence made a plan to help me remember.  We had a delightful conversation about capital letters within dialogue and how to keep track of who is talking.  I am thinking more about ways readers can request a conference based on their needs, when they feel the need for a conference.  Reader's have needs to be addressed when they arise, not when I have time in my schedule.  It looks like I have more to balance.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering a writing community each Tuesday.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Math Monday - Making Changes

Welcome and thanks for stopping by for Math Monday!

I've been grounding my math thinking and teaching of mathematics this week by reading Second Grade Math, A Month to Month Guide by Nancy Litton.  This book is from the Math Solutions/Marilyn Burns group, which never steers me wrong.  I've read and used the kindergarten and third grade books in this series and have found both filled with useful ideas to implement and make part of my current teaching assignment.

My class has been starting each morning with a good questions/rich math problem and one of the changes that lays ahead for us is to bring problem solving to the forefront of our daily work via the mini lesson and independent work time.  Therefore, I wanted to change our beginning work for the day as students stagger in and begin thinking for the day.

When I read about Today's Number: A Daily Routine I knew this had potential for us to grow and think more about mathematics.  This is an idea I've used randomly in the past and not as a daily routine.  The target number for the day is either the number for how many days you've been in school or the calendar date.  The students use a journal/notebook to make "A Book of Equations".  The target number for the day guides equations the students will generate and record.  Students will work independently.  They will share ideas at the end of morning meeting and transition into math workshop by learning from the equations friends are sharing.  

These are some key questions I read that I will be using with this new routine that will help us apply and be engaged with the eight mathematical practices.
      Does this equation work?
      Can you convince yourself that it does?
      I see a problem with that equation.  See if you can figure out what I mean.
      Can you prove your equation is true?
      What make you think that?
      Did someone else think about it in a different way?

One new idea for me with a routine like this is to help expand a student's thinking by sometimes offering guidelines to reinforce concepts taught in class.  Each month the reader will find suggestions to expand the students' thinking about equations.  Some ideas shared from the September chapter are - "use only addition, use combinations of ten, use doubles, use only subtraction, and use both addition and subtraction."  

I've tried this a few times this year within our good questions/rich problems and found my students needed encouragement to tell me several ideas about a number.  I found many students would find equations by using an easy pattern, for example - minus one.  I found my students didn't vary the operation used or use more than two parts to make the target number.  I found this a bit disappointing.      I want to see varying operations, a range of numbers, and a range of strategies.  I think working with equations each day can help with this.  I also think and know by conferring with students during this time, I can differentiate to help student's work with numbers that will extend their own thinking.

Here are some more thoughts grounding me with this new routine.   

"...look for opportunities to help students see new ways to decompose numbers, notice number relationships, and use mathematical operations meaningfully."  

Also, students will be recording lots of thinking within their equations and they are bound to record mistakes.  "...remind yourself that such mistakes are OK and that you don't have have time to correct each child's book every day."

"...this routine is a playful way for the children to develop number understandings."



Leave your link within a comment and 

don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are thinking mathematically!

To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
it would be nice for you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Math Monday post, don't forget to use #MathMon!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Celebrate This Week - Understanding

Today I am celebrating, taking the time to understand. 

Last weekend, I confirmed the resource I was using for my math instruction was falling short.  My Slice of Life this week shared when I confirmed what my gut was starting to feel.  I left that post indicating I needed to shop around but before you shop around you really should understand what you need and what you have.  I've had nine weeks to get to know my students, I know what I have.    I know I have a plethora of resources that promote problem solving, application of math knowledge, and promote mathematical practices.  What I didn't understand completely was/is the Common Core Mathematical Standards.  Today I had a 3.5 hour lunch with a wise friend who is retired, consulting and understands mathematics.  She not only understands mathematics, she understands how the teaching of mathematics to achieve rigor and center mathematics in the mathematical practices with it being student centered.  Taking the time to understand requires time and hard thinking.  Taking the time to understand is going to change my instruction, my students daily work and create mathematicians.  I'm so excited about taking the time to understand, I can't wait for Monday!


Thank you Ruth, for supporting us in finding the positive in our busy lives.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Slice of Life - It Doesn't Fit!


Stretching and pulling, this doesn't feel right.  It doesn't seem to be fitting but let me try again with another fluff.  It still doesn't fit and I check the tag on my brand new flannel sheets, it's a queen size and I asked for king size set.  I reflected on my first shopping trip to the new Target store around the corner and realized I asked the kind Target worker if they had a set in a king size but never confirmed the size when they got a package for me from the back.  I had already washed the sheet set.  I had already thrown away the packaging but these were not going to fit my needs.  I tried to pack up the sheets the best I could with the receipt and the wrapper.  I needed to return what wasn't working and get what I needed.  That's why they make different size sheets, one size doesn't fit all bed sizes.

I've been wrestling with my math instruction lately and I realized it's like that first set of sheets.  It's falling short.  It doesn't fit my students needs all the time.  I've been using a resource my district purchased because I've changed grade levels and needed help getting my feet wet in second grade.  I needed to see my queen size set of sheets falling short and not fitting my bed to confirm what I've always known about prepackaged teaching resources.  They fall short and one has to shop around to find the right size.  I think flannel sheet shopping was easier, the king set was right on the shelf the next day when I made my return.  Easy isn't always best and I'm ready to shop around for what's a good fit mathematically. 

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for hosting and fostering a writing community.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Math Monday - Numbers Inform

Welcome and thanks for stopping by for Math Monday!

I've had this idea for quite some time to discuss and share math more within my own blog and within our blogging community.  I shared my idea with the post - Launching Math Monday!  It was summer-ish still and everyone has lots of energy when it's summer-ish.  I enjoyed launching and sharing several Math Monday posts.  There was a little excitement on twitter over the idea.  Two friends have joined and posted along with me on Mondays.  I enjoy sharing math thinking but school life is busy for everyone, myself included.  I wasn't sure if this was a great idea or worth the time and energy right now.

I was with friends this past weekend and I over heard someone tell their blog partner, "we've never blogged to gain followers or readers."  I've been thinking about this comment.  Another blogging friend shared a comment she received or heard during a presentation she was doing, "blogging is for bragging."  Teaching is a hard profession.  Teaching can be a lonely profession.  Blogging for many is about sharing ideas.  Blogging for many is making connections with like minded people and for meeting people who stretch your thinking.  Blogging is risky for the writer.  We all have different comfort levels and things we are willing to blog about.  Blogging can be a platform to live a writerly life, as we guide our students in doing.  

To be honest, I haven't done a Math Monday post in a few weeks.  I think math is hard for many to share, think, and write about.  With just a few friends joining I wondered if it was a valid idea to continue to pursue.  I struggled with this the past few weeks and realized I needed to look at my data.  Readers may not be joining, quite yet or leaving comments but they are stopping by.  My data shows the Math Monday posts have had 86, 65, 79, 119, 180, and 185 visits.  I never expected the numbers to be this high!  Maybe these posts are helpful to others.  It makes me think of the movie, A Field of Dreams.  "If you build it, they will come."

Math Monday will be back in it's original format next week. Please consider joining and sharing anything related to mathematics.



Leave your link within a comment and 

don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are thinking mathematically!

To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
it would be nice for you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Math Monday post, don't forget to use #MathMon!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Classroom Lens - Writing Workshop

Classroom lens posts will capture the weekly realities in my classroom.  Teaching is hard, messy, and beautiful.  Be prepared to see any of these each week and know each of these are worth experiencing.

                                   

Adding comparisons in personal narratives to help the reader feel like they are right there.

                                           



















Conferencing with writing partners.

                                          

Questioning how to make the pronunciation of a word, stretched out.

                                         

Skin tone drawing tools are in their own special containers for intentional illustrations.


                                                   Writing partners support each other.


Mapping out ideas before writing and using a timer to increase stamina.


Trying out spelling ideas.