Thursday, July 10, 2014

Picture Book 10 for 10 is back

Dear Cathy,

I am sneaking out from my blogging break and moments of renewal to check in with you.  Did you remember today is the day we launch Picture Book 10 for 10?  It's just one month away and I can't wait to co-host this event with you.  I still tell people who ask me about blogging and twitter how I met a mentor when I shared reading her book and then she asked me what my favorite picture books were to use in my classroom.  I was just thrilled you left me a blog comment and I was clueless how we could brainstorm and feed off each other to make this teaching journey fun, more work, and rewarding!  It is an honor to be your colleague and friend.

I do have to give you a heads up though.  I had a piece of writing not accepted for publication elsewhere but realized it was really meant for this event.  It was more about my own learning and of course 10 picture books are included.  So, I am ahead of the game.  I have my pre-event post to share some new learning I recently have.  I have also completely changed my list of 10 favorites, anchoring them to a theme.  This is huge my friend.  If readers look closely, my list just get tweaked a bit each year.  Favorites are like good habits, why break them?

I can't wait to see what everyone shares.  I was scared last year when you did some big publicity that the participant numbers would be too high.  It wasn't, it just proved that the more the merrier actually works!  I hope this note finds you a bit nervous.  Do you have your list of 10 favorite picture books, ready?  Do you have the energy for positive people to join us and share such wonderful ideas?  Did you plan a #pb10for10 book shopping budget?

Your friend, Mandy

PS Readers - 

Contact us on our blogs, or Twitter (@mandyrobek or @cathymere)or by e-mail to let us know you are joining this event.  On the day of the event - August 10th - we will be linking all the "must have" posts. Please use the hashtag #pb10for10, it's another way to help us find you.   In the  past, we or I should say Cathy creates a Jog the Web.  I can't wait to have you join us!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Slice of Life - Renewal

I just spent a couple of fabulous days at a writing retreat and reflecting on renewal.  This ended an unusual month for me, with opportunities that took me away from my girls.  My summers are usually spent with much more home time and time with the girls.  

As I returned home and thought about renewal, these are things I discovered.  I have fun adult books waiting for me to read.  I have a play/craft room that needs revamping.  I have yarn waiting for me.  I have fabric that wants to be a scarf or a skirt or a bag.  I have some online story/scrapbooking classes to do.  I have photos to organize and writing to do.  I have running to figure out again and pilates to return to my mornings.  I have thinking about this space to process.  I have a new classroom to set up.  So, in an effort to really enjoy and embrace renewal I'm going to take a vacation from blogging and return August 1st.  I will stop by July 10th with a special announcement.  

You will be able to continue my #bookaday reading via instagram and twitter.  
Enjoy your July.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Jasper John Dooley is a Fun Character!

Jasper John Dooley is a fun character and I'd love to see him meet Clementine.  There are three books about Jasper John Dooley and each one is filled with honest to good fun.  

In the first book Jasper John Dooley Star of the Week, Jasper is excited to be the featured student for a whole week.  Unfortunately, his sharing gets over shadowed by Ori, a classmate who has a new baby sibling.  In an attempt to create his own sibling, he creates one using wood and nails which results in a mix of reactions.  Luckily, the teacher Ms. Tosh is creative enough accept the wooden brother, Earl into a science experiment about living and nonliving.  Jasper meets Ori's new baby and has many realizations about life with a new baby which changes his own thinking.

In the second book Jasper John Dooley Left Behind, Jasper is devastated his grandmother is leaving him to go on a vacation cruise to Alaska.  His mind is preoccupied with her absence and several things happen; he staples a story to himself while publishing it at school, he and Ori try to build a cruise ship out of wood, he has to spend time with a new sitter instead of his grandmother, he gets in trouble at school for doing a Very Dangerous Thing, and brings home the class hamster who escapes for a bit.  One of the things I like about Jasper John Dooley is the realistic every day adventures or mishaps that occur.  

In the the book Jasper John Dooley Not in Love, Jasper spends the book trying to balance his guy friends and be kind to Isabel a classmate.  They have a couple of playdates together and he likes jumping on her trampoline but it gets uncomfortable when Isabel is convinced she is in love with him.  In the end, Jasper figures out a way to show Isabel he isn't as interesting as she thinks and saves a friend from being her next victim.

In all three books, Jasper John Dooley is a creative boy who can figure out quirky ways to solve some normal day to day life problems.  I think he will be a perfect addition to my classroom library.

Monday, June 23, 2014

5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions

I wanted to start my professional reading this summer with big thinking and I met that goal with 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions by Margaret Smith and Mary Kay Stein.  The five practices guide student's responses to push their mathematical thinking further, striving for understanding.  The practices help teachers plan through a math discussion, focusing on the goal and not over reacting to their in the moment responses.  

The five practices are anticipating, monitoring, selecting, sequencing, and connecting.  These are really key in facilitating a math discussion.  Before the lesson is taught teachers should anticipate all possible solutions, keeping in mind what the students might think of.  During math workshop teachers need to monitor the various responses students are using.  A brilliant idea is to take the solutions from the anticipating thinking and make a chart with each one.  Then as a teacher monitors they can record quickly a student's name and an observation if needed.  After monitoring and finding out what student's are using, the teacher then selects students to share to the whole group, keeping the learning target for today in mind.  However, as we are selecting students to share we need to think about the sequencing in which they share.  The authors offer several ideas but the one I found most interesting was to share what the majority of the students used.  The reason being it validates less sophisticated approaches most likely and moves from the concrete to the abstract.  Then after students have shared, the teacher helps the students make connections between the solutions shared.  I hope this sounds as exciting to you as it does to me.  

The authors offer some insight about selecting and using high level demanding mathematical scenarios for students to work with.  Then they share several examples for each practice descriptions and conversations recorded.  The five practices need the support of good questions and holding students accountable for working through the mathematics and sharing their solutions.  I loved this quote, "What students learn is intertwined with how they learn it."  There are a few good tips for holding students accountable.  The authors provide a lesson plan template which looks quite detailed but as peaked my interest to improve classroom learning.  The authors share vignettes from different ages and classroom settings to help the reader visualize the five practices in action.  This book is filled with reasons to think and plan ahead for richer math discussions.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Celebrate This Week

Today I'm joining Ruth Ayers and Celebrate this Week.

I've been a little absent lately around here and I want to celebrate why.

I'm fortunate to work in a district that supports continuing education through our salary advancement pay scale.  I just completed my Masters plus 45 hours on Friday.  During the past two weeks I've spent 7 days in classes, wrote my last required reflection paper, and I do have some mixed feelings about this.  When I graduated with my Masters I was pregnant with our first daughter and clueless about being a parent.  I also felt I didn't want to have several hours or lots of hours of just randomness because all of that randomness could equal another degree.  Well, N came and I couldn't leave her.  

Then, I discovered classes being offered that were current, relevant to my teaching and peaked my interested.  I remember leaving N to learn about Reggio Emilia and I do believe that made me a better parent.  There are times I love being a parent and a teacher and think each role has enriched the other.  Through the years I've dabbled and taken classes, always working it around what the girls had going on.  I've taken classes within my district quite often because the course is free and relevant to the goals and missions we have.  I've taken classes outside the district that peak my interest and stimulate my mind either by the topic or to be with my friends from other districts.  I've spent a lot of personal money on course work.  I had a burst of focus to get my Masters plus 30.  I realized a burst of focus had benefits and with another burst I could get to 45 hours. I've timed this last burst just before our college bills start coming in.

I've had fleeting thoughts this week about not having another degree in something that would let me take a different path in education and then I stop.  The path I took allowed me to be choosy about the classes I invested my time in. The path I took allowed me to work around my daughter's lives.  The path I took allowed me to probably have an easier course work load than if I was at a university.  So, yes today I am celebrating continuing education and choosing a path that let me find balance or attempt balance between home and school.

It feels great to say I don't have to take another class or write another paper or read another book as an assignment but the reality is, I'm a life long learner and I will probably still be reading, writing, reflecting, and you might see me in a class again.  I wove more celebrations than I intended to into this piece, writing brings surprises.  

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Slice of Life - Sharing the Journey

I spent today and yesterday in a class titled, TI in the Cloud.  Day one was spent learning about Schoology and day two was spent learning about Google Drive.  The course was designed really well.  Knowledge was presented in a mini lesson format with visuals and computers opened for participants to be working and trying things out.  As students, we listened but conversations were allowed softly at many times.  Not only were we trying to do things as it was presented we had many small mini work sessions during the day to do what we were learning.  Then in the afternoon we had a big chunk of time to do the work needed for the class project.  The best part was the instructors availability to teach and meet each student's needs, as they did the work.  The best learning happens while learners are doing, discovering, and making mistakes.  This wonderful format repeated itself for the second day.  

I went home the first day feeling energized because I felt great as a student.  I went home the first day feeling drained and uncertain.  I had to process what I was learning, play around a little more, and define the purpose and function of these two tools.  I knew going back for day two I needed a friend to bounce ideas of off, to help me process what I was thinking.  Collaboration and being with people is important for learning.  I found my friend.  The seat next to her was empty and I would have to say we had a grand time together.  

She went home last night too and worked in Schoology.  We helped each other process and think about our purpose, organization, and the how to of each.  We tried things out for each other.  We jumped off course a bit at times to work on where we were with our knowledge and then got back right on track with the class.  We got out early from class but stayed to wrap up a few things we were trying.  I'm so glad I have a friend on this journey with me.  

Reversing roles can be very productive.  I'm going to be thinking about the process, conditions for learning, student engagement, and discussions.  Sharing the journey with someone seemed to elevate the learning and work done today.  It was fun having someone to share my excitement when things worked and looked the way I wanted them to.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Professional Reading for Math

I've learned with each grade level change my habit, my reaction, and my coping mechanism is to gather professional books so I can feel on top of my game.  I chuckle at this thought, because while I am still teaching and it's true my profession doesn't change it always feels like a new job.  The feelings of excitement, fear, and courage are all rolled up into one emotion right now.  

This time though I feel like I am coming home.  I taught second grade my first year of teaching as I taught a multiage 2/3 classroom.  I then taught it again while I did a 1/2 multiage classroom for five years.  However, I've been away from second grade since 2000.  Yikes, thus within the first three days of knowing I was moving grade levels I discovered lots of great books to come my way!  It's a lofty collection but I always say there should be the letter grade E, E for effort!

Today I am sharing my collection of professional resources I'm looking at for understanding the standards and mathematical practices while thinking about the big picture for mathematics.  I'll share the title and why I picked each book, in hopes of helping you think about math this summer.


It's easy to say I know what the mathematical practices are, sure we do problem solving but they are really much more.  This text caught my eye when it said mathematical discussions need; anticipating, monitoring, selecting sequencing, and connecting.

Putting the Practices into Action K-8 - by O'Connell and San Giovanni via Heinemann

Another book to help me unpack the mathematical practices while offering suggestions to maintain and obtain math skills.  Promises to offer many classroom suggestions!

This book offers suggestions for creating the context needed for problem solving.  There are conditions needed for authentic problem solving and this book has the answers to help us create problem solving conditions.

Intentional Talk - by Kazemi and Hintz via Stenhouse

YEA, a book with strategies and a framework for fostering mathematical conversations between students and teachers.  

Common Core Mathematics in a PLC at Work - by Larson and team via NCTM

My district is implementing an enrichment/intervention block each day by grade level where no new material can be taught.  Teachers will be sharing kids during this block of time and this book peaked my interest because it's all about professional learning communities.  It's going to offer guidance, tools, resources, activities, suggestions for analyzing and interpreting the standards.

What exactly will I be teaching this year and where are my students coming from in first grade?  I think this book will get me on the right track.

If you are reading one of these books this summer or pick up one of these books let me know.  I'd love to hear what others are reading and thinking about mathematically this summer and maybe it can become a discussion for the #nerdymathclub on twitter.