Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Reflecting and Planning Tools for Math Workshop

Days after the 4th of July and I am starting to think school.  I know, it seems early but I hate to be overwhelmed come August.  So, I've been thinking about the tools that are most helpful for math workshop. Today I am taking inventory of what I have ready for math workshop as I reflect and  research a bit about how I can introduce and talk through these tools more effectively.

Number Line
My kids learned so much playing with dry erase number lines last year.  I used the game Guess My Number to talk with my students about numbers and ordering them on a line.  After we played together as a group they were off to play with partners.  We used this game throughout the year while trying larger numbers (through 120), using specific math vocabulary like more, less, greater,  and less than.

Ten Frames
Another tool that my students relied on was the 10 (5 frame first then 10 and we used 20)  frames. Having a set of 25 laminated of each made it easy for kids to grab when they were solving a problem or for me to grab and place with other supplies to create  a game.  Grow and Shrink (video below) from Mininlessons for Math Practice  was the best for helping my kids not only practicing images for numbers but also taught them what addition and subtraction meant as they learned Grow and Shrink.

100 charts
The 100 chart was also a go to tool for may students and much of the work we did building the 100 chart, helped them to begin to understand how numbers are organized, how to notice patterns in those numbers, add more/less and later to think more about using it as a tool for adding 10 more and subtracting 10 less.  They enjoyed lots of openers "being" the numbers in our larger 100 chart we have in our room.

I have a great class set of rekenreks and have tried introducing them in different ways and allowing kids to explore them but my kids don't come back to them as often.  I have been researching some  ideas for how to introduce and incorporate them. I've learned a few things I'll try after reading through activities in the previous link. Some of the language and prompts I like are:
What do you notice about the rekenrek?
Think first about how you will move 6 beads in one move, 2 moves,etc.  Can you share that thinking?
How would you draw your rekenrek to prove your thinking?
How is the rekenrek like the 5 frame, 10 frame, 20 frame? How is it different?
Objects for Counting 
Annie counting cotton balls
Kids need lots of different trinkets and manipulatives for counting. Owning beads, buttons, stones, unifix cubes, tiny animals and any small inviting toy that they can count (they love counting legos too) helps them build practice counting, skip counting and building numbers and measuring with these non-standard items.

Number Balance: This year I bought a number balance when introducing the game: Equal Values from Well Played K-2. It was a great buy and started so many conversations and discoveries about the meaning of the equal sign.  I need to remember to pull it out as one of the tools we explore in the first few weeks of school and not just when we play the game later this upcoming year.

The geometry standard for first grade includes composing 2D shapes and noticing their attributes as well as partitioning rectangles and shapes in 2 and 4 equal parts. Geoboards allow kids to do this so easily. Kids love to use the rubber bands and make pictures thinking about shapes too!

Our students are learning what shapes are, how to build a shape from smaller shapes and are thinking about how shapes are the same and different.  They also can be creative and build lots of their own ideas from geoblocks. These are a versatile tool for kids creating and thinking during math.

Tens and Ones
Place value can be one of the harder concepts for my kids to grasp when we pull out the tens and the ones.  Each year it takes lots of time talking, experimenting, talking and thinking about place value for our kids to grasp it.    In first grade, students are building on their understanding of the connection between numerals, words, and quantities. They also move to a deeper understanding, where two digit numbers are composed of bundles of tens and leftovers.

Other tools that come in handy.... 
Dice, number cards, spinners, plastic containers, and zipper bags are all good to have on hand when you are ready to throw a game together.

Thinking back on all these tools has helped me plan and learn from last years kids.  (Thanks for your was a little long)! What tools do your students use that have been successful?  Are there digital math tools or apps that your kids come back to when learning or solving problems?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Holding On To Little Things

I've forgotten how rewarding yet hard the first few weeks of school can be.  I forget every year. Maybe because the learning and growth of the previous class is still on my mind.  Maybe we as teachers are programmed to forget so that we keep our expectations high.  Whatever the reason, the beginning of the year always rocks me physically and mentally as we set up routines.  I've been trying to hold on to little things as the weekend approaches so I leave with some feeling that what I am doing and what my kids are doing matters.

This weekend I held onto two little things.

The first was reading alongside a student who is learning to become aware of her strengths as a reader.  We met about a text I had pulled for her to support her. She has been finding a number of books that she enjoys and reads some of the ideas and soaks up pictures. She is unaware yet of how to self correct herself and solve problems when reading, so I was ready to supplement with text that she could practice everything including reading fluently and understanding. As I introduced it to her, I asked her to think about the the story (and pictures of course) whenever she encountered a problem.  I watched her read this and self correct herself for the first time in the 12 days we have know each other.  It was a small piece of joy when she used meaning to fix up things on her own.  Afterwards I asked her about what felt good about the reading and she said, "I figured words out."  It gave us both some happiness and hope for the year.

The second little thing I came across today as I was in my classroom skimming book bins.  I noticed the book bin of a little girl who had been sick for a few days this week.  I noticed her reading log and some post its on the front...
It gave me a little smile to think this little third grader was taking her reading in her own hands. She was taking the invitation to independence seriously.  

I've decided to not only to hold onto the little things as the week ends but to try to hold on to one each day this week. Our kids and our work matters.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Equal Shmequal

I'm learning with third graders this year and beginning to get used to what makes them think, laugh and learn.  It has been interesting experimenting with picture books and learning from my teammates which books may work for read aloud.

Today I encouraged my students to think about what equal means.  The book, Equal Shmequal, is one of my favorites for helping kids begin to think deeper about the word...equal.  What I also realized as I read it aloud  that it made my kids laugh and think. They were turning and talking to each other on their own as I read it.  It was nice to see kids engaging after being together for 12 days.

To help build understanding, we jotted our thoughts about the word equal before reading the book and after reading it. The conversation we had will be one that we can refer   back to throughout the year.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

If Not For Franki Celebration!!

What better way to celebrate this Easter Sunday than taking time to reflect on being thankful for such a good friend! Happy Birthday Franki! What would we do without you?!

 I feel like I could write forever about all the reasons this amazing friend has influenced my life as a mom, teacher and friend. It has been hard to keep it to just a few. Here goes...

If not for Franki (and Mary Lee)…I wouldn't be here on this blog!!  Their blog inspired me to find a place for my voice years ago when my children were young and at home! Now I am living in the car and focusing on a book so the posting isn't as consistent as years ago.  Blogging along with many, many conversations with her about life and teaching have constantly help me refine my own understanding of the world. She always plays devil's advocate and forces me to see the other side of any issue but she also listens when I am a mess…doesn't she?! I mean that really is what is so great about her.

If not for Franki…I wouldn't know half the people I know! She has this insane knack for bringing us all together, making sure all feel welcome and worrying about us if we don't. Thanks Franki!

If not for Franki…I wouldn't have a new found love of gambling. Who knew?! Yes, I will say I enjoy the poker slot machines and if not for her enthusiam for the casino, I would not have realized this about myself!! She is so good about bringing the fun to everything she does.

If not for Franki…I wouldn't have had the opportunity to work with Brenda at Choice Literacy and see myself as an author who could be possibly finishing a book this year (a shout out to Ruth too because I haven't been able to do it without you too)! Thank you for reading my texts when writing is hard and anwering my random questions. I think the world of you and appreciate your support:)

Franki, thank you for being you!  Looking forward to learning and laughing (and yes, we will be laughing) with you next next year in 3rd!!
 Enjoy your day:)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Good Ship Crocodile by J Patrick Lewis and Monique Felix

If you're looking for a new friendship book, this one may have to be it.  I picked it up last weekend and read it with my students on Friday.  It was the perfect book to begin with "What do you think this book will be about?"  One of my little kiddos used the picture right away to help her as I read the name of the title, saying...I think the crocodile is going to be like a ship and help the animals. Yay, I thought she is beginning to think!
We read about Snout and the animals that live in the river. These animals who are afraid of the rising water. We read about Sparkle and the fireflies that he helps find land. We read about the monkeys, the frogs and the families of insects and animals that Snout carefully helps across the river. One of my student begins to wonder if he will eat these animals. We all wonder what the tension will be as darkness falls we discover Snout is lost after working his way up the river.  How will he get home?
One student guesses that the fireflies will help him and then we read about Sparkle's light guiding his way home.

This book has a great message I will tap back into for partner work so we can talk about collaborating. I will use it for noticing facial expressions in our illustration study and because it has little text, maybe someone will grab it to read on their own.  It gave us lots to talk about this Friday.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Frustrated Friday

It was Friday, I was frustrated and a little tired. I was frustrated because Little B was having trouble all day focusing when it came to working independently. Each time he would start to settle into a spot, he would jet across the room to often interrupt other students who were focusing on a book or writing a story. Knowing we have had lots of conversations about what focus is, characters who think about focus and what it looks like,  I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt each time I noticed him. I often would slyly walk over to listen in on the conversation.  I kept crossing my fingers that is was about a book he was writing, sharing or any thought about ideas or even a story he was sharing about himself.  I realized it wasn't.  So, I  talked again with Little B helping him remember the lessons about focus and then I found a spot where he could focus during writing workshop. It is Friday, he is 6, I said to myself. But I was still frustrated that others weren't getting their work done.

I looked at my notebook to see which kids were on my list for conferring when I noticed Little B.  His
 page had nothing written on it. While other kids had 2 -3 quick check ins, I realized I had not spent time with him. I immediately felt that ah-ha at that moment.

 I sat alongside him joining the other kids at the table that were writing. He shared his book called Ben Where He Goes ( I smiled thinking how clever his title was) and he read all about the adventures he had this summer in New York, at an OSU game and with his family on vacation. The little girl next to us talked about how she was going to go to Slovenia when she was old enough to visit because her dad was born there. Little B piped up next about how he was going to visit Guatemala when he was old enough because that was where he was born.  He smiled and talked about how he was adopted. We all chatted for awhile after that.  While I had know Little B's background it wasn't until I slowed down to talk with him about his writing that he was able to open up. It wasn't until then that we had actually had our first connection. I know this day was important for both of us.

I was fortunate enough to hear Ruth Ayres speak this weekend about celebration.  She has this amazing perspective about how our teaching with writers is really all about celebrating.  She takes hard and tough situations and find the good in them. She has a true knack for making personal connections.  I left with so many new things to think about, one of them being the power of taking time to relate and connect with our students. Hearing Ruth in person was incredibly valuable for me. And sitting down with Little B was as well.  I am keeping her wisdom in mind this week and remembering to find lots of opportunities to keep talking and connecting with Little B.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Kids Engaging Kids

After 3 weeks of school, I feel like my students are beginning to get the hang of  some of the routines evolving in our room.  They are remembering (with less reminding) to put their folders away and to make a lunch choice. They are beginning to understand workshop and anticipate their time to write and read. And, they are showing more engagement in choosing books that they know, that look interesting or that I have read aloud as they settle into what we call Books in the Morning. I don't know if I love the name of this routine but it is simple enough to remind kids to grab a book.

On Friday, as kids wrapped up their choices during this time, I noticed a little reader, Jack, had tried to read a book that I talked up the day before.  It was Hello! Hello! by Matthew Cordell. (Love Cordell and his books Trouble Gum and my boys love the Justin Case series)  Jack told me how much he loved electronics and how he just had to try this book.  I asked if he would share what he thought about the book with everyone.  But instead of just talking about the book,  he walked over to the document camera, slid the book underneath and began reading the book aloud to everyone. I'm not sure if he didn't pick up on my directions or if he had his own plan in mind but what I saw was complete engagement with the class. Kids were joining in the text as he read.  Eyes and ears were locked on Jack as he helped the character come alive, commented about his favorite page and stopped and reflected during the reading.  It was a great way to start our day.

Jack talked about how he loves electronics and that's why he loved the book.  Other students talked about how they felt like the story teaches them not to stay on electronics all day.  It definitely has a powerful message for young kids today.  Katie Wood Ray writes that kids just notice more than adults do, it's that simple.  After watching Jack, I will say... kids can engage each other more than adults do, it's that simple.