Thursday, June 26, 2014

Jasper John Dooley is a Fun Character!

Jasper John Dooley is a fun character and I'd love to see him meet Clementine.  There are three books about Jasper John Dooley and each one is filled with honest to good fun.  

In the first book Jasper John Dooley Star of the Week, Jasper is excited to be the featured student for a whole week.  Unfortunately, his sharing gets over shadowed by Ori, a classmate who has a new baby sibling.  In an attempt to create his own sibling, he creates one using wood and nails which results in a mix of reactions.  Luckily, the teacher Ms. Tosh is creative enough accept the wooden brother, Earl into a science experiment about living and nonliving.  Jasper meets Ori's new baby and has many realizations about life with a new baby which changes his own thinking.

In the second book Jasper John Dooley Left Behind, Jasper is devastated his grandmother is leaving him to go on a vacation cruise to Alaska.  His mind is preoccupied with her absence and several things happen; he staples a story to himself while publishing it at school, he and Ori try to build a cruise ship out of wood, he has to spend time with a new sitter instead of his grandmother, he gets in trouble at school for doing a Very Dangerous Thing, and brings home the class hamster who escapes for a bit.  One of the things I like about Jasper John Dooley is the realistic every day adventures or mishaps that occur.  

In the the book Jasper John Dooley Not in Love, Jasper spends the book trying to balance his guy friends and be kind to Isabel a classmate.  They have a couple of playdates together and he likes jumping on her trampoline but it gets uncomfortable when Isabel is convinced she is in love with him.  In the end, Jasper figures out a way to show Isabel he isn't as interesting as she thinks and saves a friend from being her next victim.

In all three books, Jasper John Dooley is a creative boy who can figure out quirky ways to solve some normal day to day life problems.  I think he will be a perfect addition to my classroom library.

Monday, June 23, 2014

5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions

I wanted to start my professional reading this summer with big thinking and I met that goal with 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions by Margaret Smith and Mary Kay Stein.  The five practices guide student's responses to push their mathematical thinking further, striving for understanding.  The practices help teachers plan through a math discussion, focusing on the goal and not over reacting to their in the moment responses.  

The five practices are anticipating, monitoring, selecting, sequencing, and connecting.  These are really key in facilitating a math discussion.  Before the lesson is taught teachers should anticipate all possible solutions, keeping in mind what the students might think of.  During math workshop teachers need to monitor the various responses students are using.  A brilliant idea is to take the solutions from the anticipating thinking and make a chart with each one.  Then as a teacher monitors they can record quickly a student's name and an observation if needed.  After monitoring and finding out what student's are using, the teacher then selects students to share to the whole group, keeping the learning target for today in mind.  However, as we are selecting students to share we need to think about the sequencing in which they share.  The authors offer several ideas but the one I found most interesting was to share what the majority of the students used.  The reason being it validates less sophisticated approaches most likely and moves from the concrete to the abstract.  Then after students have shared, the teacher helps the students make connections between the solutions shared.  I hope this sounds as exciting to you as it does to me.  

The authors offer some insight about selecting and using high level demanding mathematical scenarios for students to work with.  Then they share several examples for each practice descriptions and conversations recorded.  The five practices need the support of good questions and holding students accountable for working through the mathematics and sharing their solutions.  I loved this quote, "What students learn is intertwined with how they learn it."  There are a few good tips for holding students accountable.  The authors provide a lesson plan template which looks quite detailed but as peaked my interest to improve classroom learning.  The authors share vignettes from different ages and classroom settings to help the reader visualize the five practices in action.  This book is filled with reasons to think and plan ahead for richer math discussions.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Celebrate This Week

Today I'm joining Ruth Ayers and Celebrate this Week.

I've been a little absent lately around here and I want to celebrate why.

I'm fortunate to work in a district that supports continuing education through our salary advancement pay scale.  I just completed my Masters plus 45 hours on Friday.  During the past two weeks I've spent 7 days in classes, wrote my last required reflection paper, and I do have some mixed feelings about this.  When I graduated with my Masters I was pregnant with our first daughter and clueless about being a parent.  I also felt I didn't want to have several hours or lots of hours of just randomness because all of that randomness could equal another degree.  Well, N came and I couldn't leave her.  

Then, I discovered classes being offered that were current, relevant to my teaching and peaked my interested.  I remember leaving N to learn about Reggio Emilia and I do believe that made me a better parent.  There are times I love being a parent and a teacher and think each role has enriched the other.  Through the years I've dabbled and taken classes, always working it around what the girls had going on.  I've taken classes within my district quite often because the course is free and relevant to the goals and missions we have.  I've taken classes outside the district that peak my interest and stimulate my mind either by the topic or to be with my friends from other districts.  I've spent a lot of personal money on course work.  I had a burst of focus to get my Masters plus 30.  I realized a burst of focus had benefits and with another burst I could get to 45 hours. I've timed this last burst just before our college bills start coming in.

I've had fleeting thoughts this week about not having another degree in something that would let me take a different path in education and then I stop.  The path I took allowed me to be choosy about the classes I invested my time in. The path I took allowed me to work around my daughter's lives.  The path I took allowed me to probably have an easier course work load than if I was at a university.  So, yes today I am celebrating continuing education and choosing a path that let me find balance or attempt balance between home and school.

It feels great to say I don't have to take another class or write another paper or read another book as an assignment but the reality is, I'm a life long learner and I will probably still be reading, writing, reflecting, and you might see me in a class again.  I wove more celebrations than I intended to into this piece, writing brings surprises.  

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Slice of Life - Sharing the Journey

I spent today and yesterday in a class titled, TI in the Cloud.  Day one was spent learning about Schoology and day two was spent learning about Google Drive.  The course was designed really well.  Knowledge was presented in a mini lesson format with visuals and computers opened for participants to be working and trying things out.  As students, we listened but conversations were allowed softly at many times.  Not only were we trying to do things as it was presented we had many small mini work sessions during the day to do what we were learning.  Then in the afternoon we had a big chunk of time to do the work needed for the class project.  The best part was the instructors availability to teach and meet each student's needs, as they did the work.  The best learning happens while learners are doing, discovering, and making mistakes.  This wonderful format repeated itself for the second day.  

I went home the first day feeling energized because I felt great as a student.  I went home the first day feeling drained and uncertain.  I had to process what I was learning, play around a little more, and define the purpose and function of these two tools.  I knew going back for day two I needed a friend to bounce ideas of off, to help me process what I was thinking.  Collaboration and being with people is important for learning.  I found my friend.  The seat next to her was empty and I would have to say we had a grand time together.  

She went home last night too and worked in Schoology.  We helped each other process and think about our purpose, organization, and the how to of each.  We tried things out for each other.  We jumped off course a bit at times to work on where we were with our knowledge and then got back right on track with the class.  We got out early from class but stayed to wrap up a few things we were trying.  I'm so glad I have a friend on this journey with me.  

Reversing roles can be very productive.  I'm going to be thinking about the process, conditions for learning, student engagement, and discussions.  Sharing the journey with someone seemed to elevate the learning and work done today.  It was fun having someone to share my excitement when things worked and looked the way I wanted them to.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Professional Reading for Math

I've learned with each grade level change my habit, my reaction, and my coping mechanism is to gather professional books so I can feel on top of my game.  I chuckle at this thought, because while I am still teaching and it's true my profession doesn't change it always feels like a new job.  The feelings of excitement, fear, and courage are all rolled up into one emotion right now.  

This time though I feel like I am coming home.  I taught second grade my first year of teaching as I taught a multiage 2/3 classroom.  I then taught it again while I did a 1/2 multiage classroom for five years.  However, I've been away from second grade since 2000.  Yikes, thus within the first three days of knowing I was moving grade levels I discovered lots of great books to come my way!  It's a lofty collection but I always say there should be the letter grade E, E for effort!

Today I am sharing my collection of professional resources I'm looking at for understanding the standards and mathematical practices while thinking about the big picture for mathematics.  I'll share the title and why I picked each book, in hopes of helping you think about math this summer.


It's easy to say I know what the mathematical practices are, sure we do problem solving but they are really much more.  This text caught my eye when it said mathematical discussions need; anticipating, monitoring, selecting sequencing, and connecting.

Putting the Practices into Action K-8 - by O'Connell and San Giovanni via Heinemann

Another book to help me unpack the mathematical practices while offering suggestions to maintain and obtain math skills.  Promises to offer many classroom suggestions!

This book offers suggestions for creating the context needed for problem solving.  There are conditions needed for authentic problem solving and this book has the answers to help us create problem solving conditions.

Intentional Talk - by Kazemi and Hintz via Stenhouse

YEA, a book with strategies and a framework for fostering mathematical conversations between students and teachers.  

Common Core Mathematics in a PLC at Work - by Larson and team via NCTM

My district is implementing an enrichment/intervention block each day by grade level where no new material can be taught.  Teachers will be sharing kids during this block of time and this book peaked my interest because it's all about professional learning communities.  It's going to offer guidance, tools, resources, activities, suggestions for analyzing and interpreting the standards.

What exactly will I be teaching this year and where are my students coming from in first grade?  I think this book will get me on the right track.

If you are reading one of these books this summer or pick up one of these books let me know.  I'd love to hear what others are reading and thinking about mathematically this summer and maybe it can become a discussion for the #nerdymathclub on twitter.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Celebrate this Week

Today I'm joining Ruth Ayers and Celebrate this Week.

I just can't resist the opportunity to spend time with my local blogging friends.  I love receiving an email suggesting we gather for breakfast and shop for books.    I know summer is near when the invite comes.  I know when the day arrives, we are in summer mode.  It's fun to talk about summer plans and share snippets of our lives.  I'm grateful to be included with this group and today I am celebrating all the wonderful book advice they gave me.  They were able to think about first graders and what they are reading when they end the year.   I had suggestions from third grade teachers who know where they need to go.  I was looking for newer characters and books in a series to help foster more reading.  I came home with Baby Mouse, Squish, Andy Shane, Bink and Gollie, to name a few.

As you can imagine, being in the same bookstore with this fine group of readers could be and is dangerous.  A couple of times suggestions were coming to me from other aisles and across the room.  This was interesting the majority suggested a series of three books as a read aloud for second grade and a librarian that was with us was not in favor.  So much not in favor, the rejection was made from across the store.  I didn't buy the book and thought I must check it out from the library first.  I am celebrating such kindness as I figure out what might interest a second grade reader.


Thanks to

Mary Lee and Franki from A Year of Reading
Karen and Bill from Literate Lives,
Tony from Tony's Notebook
Katie from Book Groupie

for allowing me to celebrate friendship and keep those book suggestions coming.

I'm also celebrating Donalyn Miller's #bookaday reading challenge this summer.  I've envied teachers in previous summers and loved following what everyone was reading, often gathering ideas for school and/or for one of my three daughters.  I was at the public library this week and decided I could join #bookaday and focus on finding books just right for second grade readers.  You can find out what I'm reading daily by joining me on twitter or instagram, links to the right.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Slice of Life - Slices All Around

When one steps back with a big to do list and several events on their plate one has to know when to stop something and take a break.  I'm so glad I did just that these past three weeks.  My life has been a whirlwind of joyous moments and busy to dos.  When I thought about returning today, I thought about not returning.  Come on, vacations are good but I made a commitment and wanted to keep my word about joining my Slice of Life community today.  When I thought about one slice for today, truly a small moment my mind raced with several.  Sometimes writers make lists to capture seed ideas to pursue further.  Sometimes these seed ideas turn into bigger pieces and sometimes they don't.   I hope by sharing some of my small moments while I was away, we can catch up.

1. High School Graduation - teary eyed but didn't cry.
2. Middle School Graduation - cried.
3. Fifth Grade Graduation - didn't cry, oldest sat there elbowing me.
4. Cleaned and packed my room - I'm teaching second grade next year!
5. Spring cleaning - painted my fireplace mantel twice.
6. Family and friends came to help w/ grad party prep, thank goodness.
7. Softball games - double headers are long
8. Grad party took a lot of preparation and patience - I heard, Mom a lot
9. Absolutely beautiful - weather, setting, details, food, friends, family, and fun
10.  Exhausted for a couple of days, getting back on summer track!

It's good to be back and maybe my list of ten needs one more -

11. I got an OSU Mom t-shirt from my daughter, before grad party, I cried.