Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wonder Wednesday

I was inspired this summer after reading Maria's post, What Would Be in Your Wonder Jar? and then I had the opportunity to chat a bit on Twitter about wondering.  Lucky for me Wonderopolis was listening in and wanted to help promote wondering in my classroom.  I just love this label they sent me.  I was feeling pretty thrifty when I recycled a jumbo pretzel jar and washed it up.  The opening is just right to put objects in and out of it.  The size is just right for holding many things. 

My jar has been sitting for a bit.  The beginning of the year is overwhelming at times and I just wasn't sure how to launch this.  My students have had so much to process in our twenty days together.  I've decided wondering just comes naturally if you wait.  One day we were using glue sticks to put a mural together.  I started thinking out loud and mentioned when I was little we had no glue sticks.  I continued to wonder why did we just have glue to work with?  When were glue sticks invented?  Why?  The glue sticks we had to use that day were all purple.  I wonder why because I don't remember glue sticks being purple when I was  younger than I am now.  All good teaching starts with modeling.  Why not model about wondering.

This summer I read Literacy Beginnings by Fountas and Pinnell.  Chapter 3 was filled with important writing about inquiry.  I loved the lead quote, "Ask real questions, questions you yourself wonder about - what I call acts of inquiry. - Judith Wells Lindfors."  The chapter defines two types of inquiry.  The first one being information seeking and this often leads to solutions and products.  Fountas and Pinnell have captured wondering as this -

"Wondering, the other kind of inquiry, is more open.  We seek questions and examine alternative factors.  When you and a friend discuss a recently read book or a film you've seen, you often share your thougths about why a character acted as he did or why an actor played the character a certain way.  You might never know the "right" answer.  The goal is often the pleasure of the process itself - speculating, asking more questions, sharing insights that are only possibilities.  Using open ended questions is important with prekindergartens.  Using thoughtful language as we teach is crucial to helping stimulate children's thinking."

While Fountas and Pinnell directly site thinking about prekindergartens I think this could apply to everyone of all ages.  My thoughts are closer for using the jar in the classroom.  I've gathered some picture book resources, and am using Wonderopolis posts to help foster the launch.  Stay tuned.

Friday, October 14, 2011

OCTM 2011 - Building Number Sense

What a great two days of learning and boy is my mind thinking about early childhood mathematics.  Many of my sessions yesterday centered around number sense.  I would like to thank Carl Jones, Anne Reynolds and Barb Weidus for each providing thought provoking sessions. 

Carl Jones from Dark Co. and works with the IMPACT project said early on, "Early educators need more number sense lessons for the CCSS" (Common Core State Standards).  This is very true for primary grades, especially kindergarten.  He talked about students' sense of equality and the fact that they are not as good as this as teachers tend to think.  He provided some research and date for student responses for 8 + 4 = ____ + 5.  The findings showed as the students got older in elementary school the success for solving this problem decreased.  This is a bit alarming.  He also got us thinking about the English language and how it works against us in mathematics.  Our names for numbers are against us for understanding the meaning or values of numbers.  I think these two thoughts increase the urgency and need for number sense to be developed further than it has in the past with our emerging mathematicians.

Did you know when working with a number grid, there is a diagonal pattern from left to right where the number increases by the first single digit in the diagonal row?  Did you know if you took a four square section of the number grid and added the two numbers diagonally in each direction the sum is the same?  Would your students see these patterns?

Ann Reynolds from Kent State University started her session on number sense and said, "Counting to 100 doesn't mean anything, it's like singing the ABC."  We all know in literacy students can sing the ABC song and not recognize letters or begin reading.  I hadn't thought about this comparison from the alphabet to numbers before yesterday and think it will be helpful when having discussions with parents.  Ann also shared students and families aren't playing dice games as much anymore and the visual identification for numbers on a die is essential in building number sense.  She showed us several ways for students to visualize number collections organized with pennies on an overhead in a Quick Show format (a 3 second look).  It's the important discussions afterwards guided with this question, "Did someone see it differently?" that helps our students begin building number sense.  Students have to have a mental structure to see how numbers work and their relationship to ten.  Here's another interesting thought - "Sometimes students don't focus on the math unless we push them."  For example, she wished pattern blocks came in one color.  It's too easy for students to refer to them by color rather than an attribute, informal, or formal names. 

Barb Weidus, I believe is from Southern Ohio somewhere and does consulting through Curriculum Alignment Specialist provided participants with a plethora of ideas related to developing place value with a very heavy focus on building initial number sense.  You can't go forward unless understanding numbers and their relationships as concrete for children.  Barb too provided a reference to literacy.  "Phonemic Awareness is a prerequisite to phonics and developing number sense is a prerequisite in mathematics."  This comes from the work of David Sousa and his book, How the Brain Learns Mathematics.  She spent a great deal of time talking with us about Subitizing, which is the sudden recognition of dot patterns for numbers without counting.  One might want to use manipulatives but research as shown with manipulatives children tend to count the objects and not build the instant recognition.  Subitizing begins with dots plates, moves to 5 frames, then 10 frames and random arrangements that are not linear.  She provided language for classroom discussions with students, also - What did you see?  How did you see it?  The first question is looking for a number and the second is looking for an explanation. 

This post is getting long but I hope you have gotten an idea or something to pursue further in your own work with building number sense and working with children.

Photo via Flicker and shimmertje

Thursday, October 13, 2011

OCTM 2011 - My Presentation

Today I had the pleasure of presenting at OCTM 2011 - Prime Time in Toledo.  My presentation was Coin Identification, Values, and Other Standards, Oh My.  Grades K-2  Creative ways to learn coin identification and values through games and hands on activities that are tiered allowing differentiation.  Follow an experienced teacher's thinking through her journey helping students learn these state standards while revisiting other math standards. 

For those of you who came to my session, thank you for joining me.  I appreciated your willingness to be active participants and I hope you all walked away with one new idea or an idea you could tweak and make your own.

I had so much fun putting together my PowerPoint and thinking about years of working with children identifying coins and knowing their values.  I have a lot I could say about this topic but I really think I should just share my PowerPoint and handouts.  I wanted to have things online for my participants to help save a tree and then I decided I would like to share and thank my PLN with these ideas.

You can find my presentation Coin Identification, Values, and Other Standards, Oh My via Google docs.  I have also shared Poetry for coin identification.  In my presentation I shared activities and games.  I scanned those pages to share with you.

At my session there was a question about Children's Literature and titles I like to use.  My presentation from 2010 started with quotes for using Children's Literature.  Here is my session from last year with a list of books I enjoy using for math instruction.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Public Librarian Visits Us!

I have had the pleasure of spending a half an hour over the past two days with Mr. George the Librarian and I've enjoyed every minute.  My students have enjoyed every minute.  Mr. George contacted our school and wanted to come visit our kindergarten students with an invitation for a pajama party at the library to sign up and get library cards!  What a brilliant idea.  He is the public library manager of our quaint little public library and also has several other positions within this title.  Mr. George came and read books to us but his style of reading is not like any other.  He is over the top with animation, sound effects, body language, and singing.  I don't think anything in technology can match what he does!  I found myself mesmerized and it all seemed so natural.  It was interesting to learn he has done a lot of reading and studying about children, behaviors, psychology and incorporated it into his work.  My students were so excited about new books, his library, and hearing more from him next week.  Reading and spending time with books should be exciting!  I'm so grateful to have begun this relationship with another professional who has children and books at the forefront of what he does.  Thank you for becoming a partner with us and extending our learning to your quaint little library.