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.

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.