Monday, November 6, 2017

Step Back {Math Narrative}

I was launching a unit on telling time and decided to use an idea from Math In Practice, Teaching Second-Grade Math by Susan O'Connell, John San Giovanni, and Allison Peet.  They suggest having students build a human clock to help understand the clock is a circular number line.  I followed their suggestions got twelve students started and sat down with the rest of the students to observe.

My eyes darted from conversation to conversation.  I noticed the students who were leading the work and those who observed and waited to find their placement.  I observed some more as their work gathered momentum and then I smirked.  I found my teaching point.  I found a misconception.  Students had placed twelve at the top of a circle but then placed 11, 10, 9, and 8 to the right of the 12 where 1, 2, 3, and 4 should be.  They completed their circle and no one looked back at an analog clock to catch this slight error.  

I had the students count around the circle as I held up a Judy clock.  A small panic struck our room and students started to show faces of, "that's not right."  We looked at the Judy clock together and our "that's not right" faces turned to "we've got this" and instantly they were rebuilding the clock the "just right way".  Everyone wanted to try this so we had a second group try and we discovered they built a human clock much faster.  This led us to a discussion about learning from others and trying more than one time to do something.

When I attended our local state math conference a couple of weeks ago, @mlipinos used the words, math narrative and I was intrigued.  Maybe stepping back and taking time to observe we help us all capture math narratives.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Squirrels Leap, Squirrels Sleep

I was trying to read the other week in a park and was quite distracted by two squirrels playing independently and then together at the base of a tree.  This was a little foreshadowing to my upcoming book sale shopping experience.  I couldn't resist picking up Squirrels Leap, Squirrels Sleep by April Pulley Sayer and illustrated by Steve Jenkins.  At first glance, I thought the book was an easy read and maybe too easy for my second graders.  Then I read it again while shopping and discovered the simple text structure was packed with information about squirrels.

Think about this sample text - 
Tail umbrella.
Tail as flag.
Tail for balance.
zig and zag!

Maybe it's my recent personal encounter with squirrels or the carefully crafted cut and torn paper collage illustrations but I'm thinking this book is a perfect mentor text for writing from your observations.  As I read many pages, I kept nodding my head and saying; I saw that.  Not only is this about squirrels but about their impact on trees.  

The book has a wonderful four page insert at the end with additional information for readers to understand the ideas presented within the simpler text; tails as tools, feeding time, and overwhelmed by acorns are a few sections.  She also offers suggestions for further reading.  This information here makes this book accessible for readers in any grade.  I also think it would be interesting for older students to start with the last four pages and discover where the simpler texts ideas came from.


Monday, October 30, 2017

I Know Numbers!, My Newest Math Picture Book


I Know Numbers! by Taro Gomi is my most recent math picture book purchase!  I've been talking with students for years about numbers in their lives and this book is a great addition to this line of thinking.  A variety of characters, young and old share different ways numbers are a part of their daily life.  There's a boy checking his temperature wondering if tit's high or low.  The look of worry on his face is so realistic.  I love the page with the mama weighing herself and I'm happy to share it's a happy weight for mamas.  There's an old rotary dial phone and a television with number buttons on the actual Tv base.  Clothes and shoes are being tried on, various sporting activities use numbers, and numbers show distance.  Lots of great examples to spark some thinking about the relevancy of numbers within our daily lives.  The illustrations are warm and demonstrate the how numbers of used.  Makes sure you give plenty of time for students to soak those in!                                                                                                                                                     

Monday, October 23, 2017

Top Ten Things I heard from Math Heroes while at #OCTMconnects, a Math Conference!

This past Thursday and Friday I had the privilege to attend our local state math conference.  This wasn't my first time to attend and it won't be my last.  It was so fun to see familiar faces and make new connections.  This year I attended a meeting for emerging leaders and what a fun session it was to see preservice teachers motivated and committed to their careers while inservice teachers shared passions and hopes for making the teaching of math more visible and helping each other.  Passion fosters excitement and the presenters I spent time with were passionate, positive, and became my heroes.  This list will just touch the surface from my two days, if you would like to know more about something let me know.


Top Ten Things I heard from Math Heroes while at #OCTMconnects, a Math Conference! 

10.  "Hey, you went a little more literacy this past year!"  I was shocked a math hero noticed what I was sharing and posting.  A little nudge to find balance in my sharing because I equally love literacy and math.

9. "Do we really want kids coming home and having a second shift?"  A question raised while discussing homework.

8.  If you live in Ohio, look at the new model curriculum for mathematics.  It states no timed test!  Fluency is being efficient, flexible, and accurate.  We need to look at structures to build and support fluency; fingers, flash dot cards organized and un-organzied, five grams, ten frames, twenty frames, and rekenrek.  

7.  I participated in my first Mystery Number Skype and what a fun way to use technology and think about numbers with friends from different places in our world.  Lisa Murray @lmurray has lots of experience and ideas or you can check out the hashtag #MysterySkype.

6. Zearn.org was mentioned in a few sessions and with positive teacher feedback.  I haven't had the time to explore it yet but looked back and realized this was a ten top from last year too.  Maybe it's a technology piece to explore.  

5.  I've never been to a conference where in multiple sessions one book is repeatedly mentioned.  Of course, I came home and ordered my copy of Principals in Action: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All is also in e-book format for a fraction of the paperback cost and of course, if you are a member of NCTM you get a small discount.

4.  Lots of coding learning for me.  There are four Pillars of Coding; variables, loops, conditionals, and functions.  There is current legislation to add coding courses and a teacher certification to the math departments.  

3.  While exploring coding avenues myself, the presenters said, "we want you to be comfortable with failing because that’s how you learn."  I had some fails while exploring coding and what a good feeling to have as a goal - get comfortable with failing.

2.  Not only was the book Principals in Action recommended lots there was a lot of discussion about the Effective Mathematics Teaching Practices

1.  OCTM is hosting a book group this year in a Google Community - Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You Had and twitter chats are going to be weekly for just 30 minutes on Thursdays.



Thursday, October 19, 2017

OCTM - Math Workshop Makes Connections




I'm so excited to be spending today and tomorrow at this year's Columbus Connections the 67th annual conference for Ohio Council of Teachers of Mathematics.  This year I'm sharing a how-to anchored in my story of mathematics and finding what makes sense for me and my students in a time of great demands.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Pam Allyn with The Literacy Connection

This past Saturday was a magical day here in Central Ohio.  The Literacy Connection brought Pam Allyn (co-author of Every Child a Super Reader) out of New York City to the Midwest to inspire and reaffirm what students need.  As I sat with colleagues from my district, I realized she wasn't only guiding us in our work with students she was filling our hearts and buckets to get back in the trenches and fight the good fight.  She urged us to stay true to our beliefs and was thrilled so many teachers had taken a Saturday to learn and grow.  While it's hard to give up a Saturday, if it's the right season for you I'd encourage you to do it.  It's more relaxing than taking a week day during the school year and builds relationships.  There's time to talk and listen.  There's time to catch up with old friends and make new.  I'm so glad I got to share this experience with so many teachers.




Ten thoughts from Pam Allyn that will guide me through the year - 


- "teaching is scientific about what works and then there’s also the love", so true we can't forget to love what we do, love the students we are with, and find moments of love.

- "we are in the world of ticket tape and it's scary but literacy gives us a safe space." 

- "have students read 20 minutes a day, independently."  

- instead of struggling readers, she recommends shifting our mindset with striving readers and reminded us reading levels have their place but students are not a reading level

- "our striving readers are our most fragmented readers, no more pulling during read aloud or independent reading"

- "we are micro-managing reading levels", she urged us over and over again, this isn't necessary.  

- "Books are just books until you put a relationship into them and they become different.", foster relationships with books

- "main thing we want to know about our kids - are they happy?"

- "let’s create a super reader community with our parents.  There's plenty parents can do around the social emotional and engagement piece.  They don't know what to do, get them involved."

- "illustrations also show 7 strengths of the Super Reader."

Thursday, August 10, 2017

My #pb10for10 list about Relationships

I'm so excited to be part of a new collaborative blog, Classroom Communities!  I hope you've had a chance to read the launch month of post by some fantastic educators!  There are tidbits to help you reflect, try something new and some personal stories that will tug at your heart.

When I was asked to join this project I decided to do a little digging to help my thinking about our focus.  Our byline is - Building Relationships, Empowering Learners.  I am a word nerd sometimes and headed right to dictionary.com.  What do these four words mean?

Building - anything built or constructed

Relationships - an emotional or other connection between people

Empowering - to give power or authority to;to enable or permit

Learners - a person who is learning;the act or process of acquiring knowledge or skill

I have my favorite books for launching reading workshop, writing workshop, math workshop and routines/behaviors.  I began to wonder if I had books to help support building relationships and this is what I discovered...in not particular order.  Instead of telling a summary of each book, I tried to highlight aspects of relationships in each.  It's my intent to use these books in launching conversations that help build relationships for my new learners in an effort to empower them while spending our year together.  

The Sandwich Swap by Kelly DiPucchio begins with two friends who love many things the same except their lunch.  Their lunch differences cause quite a stir and divide between the girls.  They have the courage to try different lunches and realize autonomy is a positive thing.


Ruby in Her Own Time by Jonathan Emmett is a story about a duck family with ducklings on the way.  Four strong and able ducklings are born with one, Ruby taking her time to join the world.  Once Ruby joins the world she takes that same pace to grow and learn and succeeds.

The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson takes a look at physical and emotional barriers  and how a simple question can open doors.  The girls find a way to spend time with each other and respect those barriers.


Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard has a very grumpy character who doesn't really want  to interact with others.  However, his friends think differently and decide to join him on his walk; it's a way to spend time with him.  The walk turns into a little simon says in a way and changes one grump to happy.


The Monster Next Door by David Soman begins with two characters copying each other by doing and saying silly things.  However, those silly things get a bit carried away and feelings are hurt.  You'll want to read this one to see how things get mended between a boy and a monster.


Matthew and Tilly by Rebecca C Jones is another story that starts out with friends doing everything together but then they get tired of each other.  I think it's important we model this as a part of relationships.  Matthew and Tilly play independently but realize it isn't as joyful.  

Rulers of the Playground by Joseph Kuefler creates a story where a king and queen each take over the school playground.  The playground gets divided and there are things to be conquered which leads to an empty playground.  The king and queen step down returning the playground to a happy ever after place to be.


Boy Plus Bot by Ame Dyckman begins with an injured character and the care provided by another based on what he would want done to him.  These things don't necessarily work until some guidance is offered for what is best for someone who is different.  Readers will enjoy how the two characters find common ground.


Boo Hoo Bird by Jeremy Tankard is a story about support and efforts to help.  It's a story that builds upon itself with each new character and idea of support.  The characters are full of cooperation and willingness.


The Girl Who Made Mistakes by Mark Pett is about a girl who is focused and successful until one day she makes her first mistake.  With care and support and acceptance she and her community are able to be healthier.