Monday, November 17, 2014

Math Monday - Assessing Mathematical Practices #1

Welcome and thank you for stopping by Math Monday, I hope you will consider joining the conversation.


I saw a tweet last week that peaked my interest and sent me over to Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You'd Had by Tracy Zayger; particularly her post on Making Sense, please take a moment to read it to understand my work below.  After reading this post and watching the short video I wanted to try the same assessment to see if my students were actually making sense of problems they could try and solve.  I've been working on helping my students understand the first mathematical practice recently and thought the work Tracy described in her post would be an interesting interview to conduct.  

I used the problem her friend modified and below are my student's responses.
There are 25 kids and 5 dogs ini the classroom.  How old is the painter?

Student - Wait, rereads.  I don't really know anything about the painter.  I would need to know something about the painter.

Student - What painter?  it didn't say there was a painter!

Student - Why is the painter involved?

Student - What do you mean by painter?  It doesn't say painter in the problem.

Student - What do you mean, how old is the painter?  How would I know how old the painter is?  It doesn't say anything else about the painter.

Student - Painter?  I don't know what that means.  I've heard of painter before (an ESL student)

Student - 25 kids plus 5 dogs, I don't get the problem.

Student - I don't get it, it doesn't take that much sense.

Student - I can't - it says nothing about the painter.

Conclusion - 9 students made sense with their response from above and 11 students did not.  


My students who didn't solve correctly all took the numbers 25 and 5 and said they either equalled or is 30.  There was no way to predict how my students would make sense of this problem and figure out they didn't have enough information to figure out the answer to the question.  Boys and girls were successful.  I had several surprises in these responses.  Students who are quick to compute numbers didn't always figure out they didn't have information about the painter.  A few students who work a bit hard to compute problems figure out this problem wasn't making sense. What I enjoyed the most was watching those who figured out the problem didn't make sense and their verbal reposes, I hope you can infer the inflection many of my students used.

It looks like we have more work to do with mathematical practice one, focusing on making sense of our problems before solving them by thinking carefully.


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To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
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Also, if you tweet about your Math Monday post, don't forget to use #MathMon!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Math Monday - PD Book Review Month-to-Month Guide

Welcome and thank you for stopping by Math Monday, I hope you will consider joining the conversation.


I just finished reading Second Grade Math  A Month-to-Month Guide by Nancy Litton.  I know I'm always need for a great read about mathematics when it's published by the Math Solutions group with the forward coming from Marilyn Burns herself.  As the title indicates, Nancy takes the reader through an entire school year with ideas and suggestions month by month.  I've been teaching for quite some time and still find nuggets of goodness to walk away with.  The first chapter actually address your classroom set up, organization, and routines before the children arrive.  It's reaffirming as an educator to find suggestions I had in place and to discover ideas with a more sophisticated twist for second graders.  I will definitely do a name sort with a Venn diagram looking at syllables and letters in the name at the same time on the first day of school next year.  I  implemented our morning routine right away to include Today's Number Routine, a book about equations.  What struck me the most as I read this book, was the amount of time needed in second grade for developing place value, addition and subtraction understandings with students.  This book was written before the Common Core Standards came to be and these three areas should of been dominating our focus back then, also.  There are several math games my students are loving and quite engaged with that I've chosen to use in class and then have them shared at home as part of our Family Math program.  Another idea from the month of April, was to do a graph with how many letters are in your name but to take it a step further; which letter is used most often in our first names.  Writing about our math process and thinking is a piece of each activity and each activity is centered around the mathematical processes which is the heart and soul of applying mathematics.  If you are looking for a book to anchor your thinking and math workshop then I would suggest any of the books in this series.



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, 
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Also, if you tweet about your Math Monday post, don't forget to use #MathMon!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Slice of Life - A Rough Goodbye


I didn't know
what laid ahead

A rough goodbye?
I can handle
A rough goodbye?
I have experience
A rough goodbye?
We'll bounce back

I didn't know 
what laid ahead

A rough goodbye
Filled with screams
A rough goodbye
Filled with physical turns
A rough goodbye
Filled with unwanted embrace

I didn't know 
what laid ahead

A rough goodbye
Requires waiting
A rough goodbye
Requires love
A rough goodbye
Requires safety

I now know 
I can only hope
what works for my own child
might work for another.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering a writing community.


Monday, November 3, 2014

Math Monday - A Math Video Library to Explore.

Welcome and thanks for stopping by for Math Monday!

Today I wanted to share a resource I have just begun to explore.  Teaching Math: A Video Library, K-4 is brought to us by the Annenberg Lerner organization.  An organization committed to advancing excellent teaching by producing and sharing multimedia resources.  They also provide lesson plans for the ideas they share.  They have been in existence for three decades.  This organization not only focuses on the student as learner but also the classroom teacher.  They also have resources for all content areas and provide videos for all ages.  

My friend who shared this with me did have a couple of cautions.  Her first advice when watching a video is to look at the math being taught and done.  Her second tidbit of advice is to not analyze or look at the classroom setting.  She said the videos are old and our classrooms today don't look like the ones in the videos.  However, she did say if you can look beyond the setting and focus on the instruction valuable things are to be learned and explored.  

I can't wait to use The Window Puzzle, number 13! My friend recommended this to me as one that could meet various needs within one classroom. The video is interesting to watch and confirms different approaches students may use depending on their own mathematical development.  I also love and anticipate I will find more activities where there is more than one solution possible encouraging independent thinking and multiple solutions.  Enjoy and share in the comments if you discover a problem/activity you will be trying in your classroom.

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, November 1, 2014

Celebrate this Week - Perspective Shift

Today I am celebrating, a Perspective Shift.  I was chatting, via texting to my friend Cathy Mere and our conversation went like this



Thank you Cathy for helping me breathe, let my shoulders down, and try to enjoy a bit more where I am right now.  Our conversation started about something completely different but I think there was a plan for it to end like this.  Friends know just what you need, sometimes without knowing it.

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

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Google Drive in the 2nd Grade Classroom



I was inspired by Franki's post this week about Google Drive in the 3rd Grade Classroom and thought, I could write about that.  Then Mary Lee wrote a post for yesterday about Google Drive in 5th the Grade Classroom and again I thought, I could write about that.  I had to chuckle when Franki wrote her first attempt at using Google Drive was a disaster because I had visions of that myself.  Therefore, I went slow and steady as I would have in kindergarten. Students are so intuitive but in laying the foundation for a new tool, I felt guided small steps were needed for more independence later on.  I am so proud and happy about our progress over the past three weeks.


I was in a team meeting and our librarian wanted to help us with some lessons in our computer lab.  She mentioned using word to type a document of sorts.  I sat listening and then tossed out, "why not use Google Drive?"  Each of our students have an account.  We get through it via a school district portal.  Each student has a special log in and password and Google Drive will automatically save their work.  I think everyone was a little hesitant and as the thought sat for a bit we decided to try it.

Our first proactive step was to make individual account information cards.  It had their login and password information.  We talked about being safe and not sharing their login information with anyone, which they love.  They won't even let their neighbors take a peak.  Another proactive step we took since our tech work is done in a computer lab, was to assign the same laptop to work at each visit.  (Yes, we took down a PC lab to have traveling laptops which had complications in several areas so we hard wired the laptops in to a different classroom and have just computer lab now.)

Our lovely librarian Heather launched logging in to our district portal and then navigating to Google Drive.  She has great insight and patiently gives tricks and tips to help them make keyboarding, buttons, screens, keypads, and mouses all come together for younger learners.  By the time we left that first day, each student had typed a title/heading.  With their title/heading they learned about left, center, and right alignment.  As I went back to the classroom and thought about observing Heather with my students, I realized we could turn this into an About the Author page to be used during the year when we publish books.

We returned to a second lesson with Heather and I believe we worked through logging in and typing in text about ourselves.  My students were composing on the computer as they typed.  It was easy for them, nothing written ahead of time.  I think the topic of themselves helped make this first experience was an easy idea generator.  Heather guided my students in how to type capital letters and the need for a space after each punctuation.

Heather was out for our third lesson but I wasn't scared to be on my own.  We finished up typing our About the Author pages and learned about the red squiggly line under words as an editing guide.  Heather had an idea of using Pixie to create self portraits to copy and include an our About the Author writing.  Which was exciting but I did Pixie self portraits in kindergarten with these students and realized I could share their first day photo with them in a shared document to use instead.  Using a shared document is a huge feature of Google Drive and one I might find a reason to use later in the year, so I thought why not show them now how to use it.

On Tuesday this week, I showed them their shared with me folder.  I guided them in copying the photo and placing it in their About the Author page.  I guided them in resizing the photo and placing it in the center right above their title.  I was out of time so we left for the day only to return on Wednesday to print.  However, before we could print I realized students had written books in portrait and landscape layouts to share with others.  So, we learned how to make a copy of a document and rename it.  Each student has an About the Author page portrait and About the Author page landscape.  This way all they need to do is print the one they need for future books.

When I reflect on our work over the past few weeks, it seems like a lot and I'm sure sounds overwhelming to some readers.  I was the only adult for three sessions and yes there were small glitches with students on and off so here are my tips for success.

1.  Model the steps using a projector of sorts and then leave the information they need on the screen to refer back to.

2.  Do things in very small steps and wait til everyone is ready.  For example, click on the title and get the box to rename your piece, now stop and wait.

3.  When modeling and giving steps, students turn sideways and can't touch the computers until I say something like, "now it's your turn, make it happen."

4.  Don't do it for them.  Point to the area they need to click or move a cursor to.  They can do it.

5.  Patience is required.

6.  Let them feel a smidge of frustration, that will guide them towards learning and retaining.

My students are eager now to work in Google Drive from home.  Some of them shared they tried to login from home but didn't get very far.  If you have ideas for launching something small and meaningful they could work on at school and home I'd appreciate your comment.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Slice of Life - Crosswalks and Upright Ants

It was a smooth drive.  I had plotted out just the right amount of time.  There was the threat of rain far off in the distance but right above there was a smidge of sun trying to burst through the gray clouds.  I got off the highway and my on time travel plans were changed.

They were everywhere!  Crosswalks.  Crosswalks filled like a swarm of bees.  No, they weren't bees because they weren't buzzing or moving very fast.  Crosswalks filled with upright ants.  Yes, tall upright ants were filling the crosswalks.  I felt like I was in the middle of an ant farm or an ant colony that was relocating.  I would drive my van a small distance only to come to another crosswalk.  I began envisioning these upright ants carrying mounds of crumbs and scraps on their backs.  Then I realized I was falling a little bit behind in my journey and started to get frustrated.  These ants then became pillars in a pinball arcade game but that didn't really matter to them.  A few times I got lucky and made them wait for me.  It was at this point I heard that little arcade bell go off in my head.  Yea, Mandy - one for you! and more cheers for traffic lights.  The upright ants actually pay attention to traffic light signals, I could finally breathe for a moment.  I found my destination and was grateful I was off the road and could rest for a bit.  Then my college freshman daughter got in the van and I realized we had to leave campus.  Lucky for me, I knew a different path out of campus and realized there were less crosswalks which meant less upright ants to dodge and driving was a bit easier.  I've already plotted a better road path into campus and learned a few things today about navigating campus during the week.  There are lessons to learn everywhere we go.  

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