Thursday, December 7, 2017

Something's Fishy

Guess my excitement when I saw Kevin McCloskey wrote Something's Fishy.  I noticed this book has a "stamp" on the front labeling it as a Giggle and Learn book which I just learned is a series.  I'm super excited to know more books are coming.  The introduction to this book begins with a fish for each letter of the alphabet.  What a fun way to introduce a variety of fish.  This story has a fun twist.  A little girl and a little boy are teaching their pets; a dog, a cat, and a bird about fish.  

I'm always looking to see if I learn something new when I select books for my classroom and this book didn't fail me.  Did you know goldfish are orange from the sun.  If they didn't have sun exposure they'd be black.  This book also grabbed my interest because the last third of the book focuses on goldfish.  a common fish most readers are a little familiar with.  


Again the format for this beginning graphic novel supports early readers with a frame on each page.  I'm not a fan of reading levels beyond helping me learn about a student and plan instruction but this book has some really helpful information for parents and teachers.  There's a page describing what a level 1 level 2 and level 3 book looks like.  Here is where I found a Level 1 is structured for a frame per page while a level 2 could have 1 - 4 panels per page.  I enjoyed learning bout the progression within Toon Books.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

We Dig Worms!

I kept rereading WE DIG WORMS! by Kevin McCloskey because it's a delightful blend of genres and format.  It's an informational piece about worms with a narrative twist when a young boy and girl enter the storyline with questions they find answers.  Then at one point, I'm convinced it is fantasy because a bird is talking to a worm.  The format appears to be a beginning graphic novel.  Instead of multiple frames on a page, each page could be a frame for a comic.  All this thinking just about the genre and format was quite fascinating to me.

I love that informational books have become more playful.  I burst out laughing on page two.  See if you do too, "There are many different worms.  Tree Worms.  Sea Worms.  River Worms.  (turn the page)  Gummy Worms."  Another favorite part of this book was the two page spread mapping the outside and inside of a worm.  Did you know worm eggs become cocoons?  Another feature of this book I found very enjoyable was the realistic simple questions one might ask about worms.  "Why do you come out after the rain?"

Interesting fact about this book found in the author blurb; the illustrations were painted on recycled grocery bags.  


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.