Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Slice of Life - Don't Use the Downstairs Bathroom?



We got in from dinner the other night and I wanted to use the downstairs bathroom but it was occupied already.  I started to grumble in my head and then realized this was an opportunity to get more steps today by going to an upstairs bathroom.  So, I dashed upstairs and thought of a new Fitbit strategy - stop using the first floor bathroom!  It sounded like a great idea at the time but to be honest I haven't fully implemented that idea in the days since.  After this idea came to me I realized that since getting my Fitbit last spring I have several strategies and I could make a list.  I love writing lists!

Taking More Steps in My Life

1.  Walk in place while drying your hair.
2.  Vacuum more often, that's about 1,000 steps.
3.  Park father away in parking lots.
4.  Look at lunch room duty as an opportunity for more steps.
5.  Forget papers on the copier? no worries, more steps to go get them.
6.  Use the second floor bathroom, only.
7.  Have friends share step totals or be a Fitbit friend - it's quite motivating.
8.  Get only 1 item at a time from the basement and go back for more.
9.  Remember 1 mile is 2,000 steps - cheer to self, go Mandy go!
10.  Have two dogs who need to walk twice daily, in all types of weather.


Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for fostering our writing community.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Math Monday - If You Listen, Then...



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


I haven't had to teach telling time for the past ten years.  As I began looking for resources I visited one of my online favorites georgiastandards.org and discovered their unit Understanding Measurement, Length, and Time.  The lesson Building a Number Line Clock peaked my interest right away and I began asking all sorts of questions.  What does this look like?  How would you use it?  I wonder if it makes a connection between something they know to something new?  As I read the lesson, I got very excited about the connections between a number line and an analog clock and couldn't wait to launch our unit on telling time by building our own number line clocks.


Together we built this number line counting the squares per rectangle.  A student thought it looked like a clock.

We took that suggestion and converted our number line.



Each student then built their own transitional clock.  As I listened while they worked, I was intrigued by the happy comments.  A little girl kept repeating, "This is so much fun!"  Another little boy was saying to a neighbor, "This is the best day ever!"  They kept repeating it over and over for almost ten minutes.  As I pondered why they were so excited about this math lesson, I realized they were truly happy.  They were truly engaged with numbers.  They were creating something new and different to construct knowledge.  This is how I want math workshop to sound, feel, and look.  A workshop filled with joy, conversation, and action.  By listening, I know how my students want their math workshop to sound, feel and look.


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 #mathmonday!

Monday, January 19, 2015

#nf10for10 is Coming!

Today is the official start for the Nonfiction 10 for 10, blog-o-sphere sharing event countdown. It is just one month away.  We are hoping new and old friends will join us to share their favorite nonfiction picture books. February is the month of love and most teachers I know LOVE books.  

Cathy and I host the Picture book 10 for 10 in August which is always fun because we are fresh and excited for a new school year.  In 2013, our friend Julie suggested hosting a Nonfiction Picture Book 10 for 10 and boy were we glad she did.  We didn't mean to ignore the world of nonfiction with our picture book love.  After doing some research on the kinds of books people were sharing for #pb10for10, we noticed most posts were sharing books that didn't include any nonfiction titles.   I know all of my readers are aware of the movement, aka Common Core, to raise the amount of reading our students and focusing on a 50/50 split between fiction and nonfiction.

My 2013 list of ten from last year to help give you an idea of what a general favorite list could look like.  It's also fun to put a spin on your list with a theme or any unique reason you can think of to gather ten books.  Last year I found a reason to create a theme list and it had nonfiction books for a house with three girls, My 2014 list.  Here is our twitter hashtag feed - #nf10for10, to stay up to date with those joining us and reminders.  

We have some sad news about how we have gathered everyone's posts in one spot.  Jog the Web has disappeared and our previous collections have too.  Don't fret and don't cry - my fearless partner Cathy has tried out some new options and together we decided on creating a Google Community to bring our post together in one spot.  I am so lucky to have Cathy figure this out while I'm being a busy mom on a Sunday and for collaborating via texts all day.  Cathy has shared more details for how our actual sharing day will go in her post, Nonfiction Picture Book 10 for 10 #nf10for10.  Cathy also kept a secret from me yesterday but created an AWESOME visual to help you know we've found a new home for our event.  Isn't this perfect?



Here are the official details to participate and it's really easy, we hope to see you there.

Math Monday - My Relationship with a Math Textbook

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



Oh, math textbook
I'm giving you a look

I didn't think it was fair
To sit and glare

You deserve a chance
Before I take a stance

I'm trying 
But then I'm almost crying

For now,
a rest is best



@Mandy E Robek, 2015

Last Thursday night I was wrestling with my journey using a resource provided by my district to teach our math curriculum.  After writing this poem and revising it a bit, I shared it by joining Poetry Friday.  When I reread the poem, I knew I wanted to say more because these feelings/this poem could be saying no to textbooks, consider the textbook, no to textbooks and I didn't want my thinking to end like this.

Teachers need help teaching.  Teachers need resources to help guide their instruction.  Our job is hard enough day to day to have to reinvent the wheel from scratch each day in all subject areas.  I have never been against textbooks/resources.  I am younger than Math Their Way but loved using that when I began my teaching.  If you are old enough to remember Mathland, I was a huge fan of this program.  I was a trained facilitator for my school district when we adopted Everyday Math from the University of Chicago.  I wasn't thrilled we went with this program but realized not everyone is comfortable with teaching math and we need those colleagues to have some support.  There were/are some great ideas in this program and then came the Common Core.  The reactive response could be to buy one of the first resources available and that is what my current district did.  

I've written earlier this year about my discovering and realizing the resource isn't working for one reason or another.  I have had moments this year when I do cry or my stomach hurts over things in my current math textbook and I find myself taking a break and then I go back to it.  Let's talk about why I take a break and why I go back.

Why I take a break from a math textbook/resource.  

1.  The activities or problems DO NOT match the curriculum.
2.  The order of the content doesn't match a natural math learning progression.
3.  The lessons are heavy in paper pencil learning.
4.  The presentation of a concept is awkward as it is worded in the textbook.
5.  The lessons are lecture format.
6.  The lessons are limited in using manipulatives. 
7.  The pacing is too fast!

Why I will return to a math textbook resource.

1.  There are some good ideas and the authors had good intentions.  
             No one writes a math textbook to do harm and be evil.
2.  There are new words for old things.  For example, fact families are now number bonds.
3.  There are ideas for reteaching, extra practice, and extending students.
4.  I can adjust ideas presented in the textbook.
5.  It gives me common ground for talking with colleagues.
6.  It's making me do a lot of thinking about teaching math.

Right now I need to take a break from the math textbook because my frustration is high.  A small break will let me return to it with fresh eyes.  I plan on continuing this year by looking at the textbook first but giving myself a bit more freedom to adjust and pull from my extensive Math Solutions personal library until I have my feet fully immersed in second grade math.  I've decided it's okay to need a little bit of help while learning new standards to teach and it's okay to find moments to do what I know to be best for students.




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 #mathmonday!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Celebrate This Week - I Understand!

Today I am celebrating, making sense of bar models for myself, for my students and with my students.  I've taught a long time.  I've heard about bar models but hadn't taken on learning about them before I left third grade to teach kindergarten.  Now that I'm back teaching second grade bar models became some new learning I needed to figure out.  

I'm celebrating - 

1.  Bar models can help you make sense of a math problem.

2.  Bar models do not provide an answer.

3.  Bar models can help you figure out what operation to use.

4.  Bar models involve reading carefully.

5.  Bar models are a sophisticated pictorial representation.

6.  Bar models are helpful when working with larger numbers.

I've been wrestling with a resource I have available and got really excited when I could decode some gobble-ly gook and simplify our thinking for some anchor charts to guide our work.  I did model the word problems after ones in my resource for some consistency between that and my thinking.








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

Friday, January 16, 2015

Poetry Friday - Oh, Math Textbook

Oh, math textbook
I'm giving you a look

I didn't think it was fair
To sit and glare

You deserve a chance
Before I take a stance

I'm trying 
But then I'm almost crying

For now,
a rest is best



@Mandy E Robek, 2015


Thank you Irene at Live Your Poem for hosting Poetry Friday this week.  I always enjoy spending some weekend reading time visiting Poetry Friday posts and I'm feeling lucky it's a long weekend for more reading time.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

New to Me - Little Author in the Big Woods

When I was a little girl I devoured The Little House on the Prairie series as a reader.  I believe it was each Monday night we would gather for the weekly television show and I think secretly I thought I was one of the Ingalls girls.  I'm not sure which one I was, but I'm pretty sure I was jealous of my sister Carrie because she actually had a name of one the Ingalls girls.

I recently reviewed, Little Author in the Big Woods A Biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Yona Zeldis McDonough for the IRA Teacher's Choices.  In general, I'm really drawn to the narrative biography format and find it interesting to read.  I think it's a great format idea to help engage children with history and informational text.  While reading Little Author in the Big Woods I found myself having flashbacks to my younger days of reading and viewing this story.  All three formats mesh together because of this narrative form.  However, the book series does share new factual information about Laura's life and the travels her family lived.  It also does a great job explaining why they moved quite often and the hardships they had.  I found myself thinking, I've never heard this before and trying to remember when events happened that were new to me from reading this book.  I think I realized my younger experiences with Laura Ingalls didn't include all the details and adventures the family had.  I enjoyed reading a bit more factual piece about characters I still hold dear to my heart.



Here are three parts I love from this story and hope you find, if you pick this book up.

-"She didn't know it, but her future life as a writer was already beginning, right there amid the pages of those newspapers."  (She was reading newspapers)

-"and although she did not know it, making pictures with words for her sister was preparing her for what would be her life's work: it was turning a bright, observant girl who loved reading into a full-fledged writer."

-"Her salary would be $20.00 a month.  That seemed like so much money!"  (Her first teaching job.)

I knew Laura Ingalls was a writer when I was little but reading this book as an adult with new eyes I realized Laura was more than the book series and television show.  I found information about her parents to be quite different at times and very interesting.  Laura was an activist, wrote articles and had her first book rejected a few times before being published.  

This book is for an intermediate reader independently but I could see a second grader hearing it as a read aloud with a special adult after or before learning/reading the Little House on the Prairie series.  

The end of the book has a small collection of quotes and if you know the   "fictional" Laura this might make you smile.  "Once you begin being naughty, it is easier to go on and on, and sooner or later something dreadful happens."