Sunday, November 30, 2014

Math Monday - How do you use math?

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

I recently attended the NCTE conference where the same message kept creeping into my sessions.  If you are going to teach reading, you need to be a reader.  If you are going to teach writing, you need to be writing yourself.  If you are going to teach poetry, you need to read poetry.  I bet you can see where I am going with this.  If you are going to teach math, you have to use math.  So, how do you use math?  Are you a math mentor for your students and share how you use math in your life?  When we know there is a purpose and reason for learning, engagement and motivation for learning is higher.

I recently realized I use math a lot when I am running.  When I'm running outside, I start my Runkeeper App and listen to numbers being rattled off to me every five minutes.  I like to know the distance I have ran, my pace, and how long I have been running.  I can then process the distance or time I have ran and figure out how much further I have to go to meet my goal for the day.  I've also found numbers can drive my running.  By listening to my five minute update, I can figure out if my pace is slowing down and try to speed it up a bit if I want a certain goal to happen for the day.  I also celebrate those moments when I've got a bit further than expected.

When I run inside, I find myself processing fractions.  For some reason while running on a treadmill, I break up my 30 minutes into thirds but then I can switch that to halves at 15 minutes and then two thirds is a much happier fraction to think about!  When I want to think about success and what is behind me the fraction of five sixths lets me know the end is in sight.  I also use decimals when I set my pace for the day and know that even a tenth of a number can make a little difference and reduce my time at the end of a run.

This is just a small slice of my life and how I use numbers.  When and how do you use numbers to help you with something in life?  If you are going to teach math, remember to be a math mentor!

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Math Monday - Assessing Mathematical Practices #1

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


I saw a tweet last week that peaked my interest and sent me over to Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You'd Had by Tracy Zayger; particularly her post on Making Sense, please take a moment to read it to understand my work below.  After reading this post and watching the short video I wanted to try the same assessment to see if my students were actually making sense of problems they could try and solve.  I've been working on helping my students understand the first mathematical practice recently and thought the work Tracy described in her post would be an interesting interview to conduct.  

I used the problem her friend modified and below are my student's responses.
There are 25 kids and 5 dogs ini the classroom.  How old is the painter?

Student - Wait, rereads.  I don't really know anything about the painter.  I would need to know something about the painter.

Student - What painter?  it didn't say there was a painter!

Student - Why is the painter involved?

Student - What do you mean by painter?  It doesn't say painter in the problem.

Student - What do you mean, how old is the painter?  How would I know how old the painter is?  It doesn't say anything else about the painter.

Student - Painter?  I don't know what that means.  I've heard of painter before (an ESL student)

Student - 25 kids plus 5 dogs, I don't get the problem.

Student - I don't get it, it doesn't take that much sense.

Student - I can't - it says nothing about the painter.

Conclusion - 9 students made sense with their response from above and 11 students did not.  


My students who didn't solve correctly all took the numbers 25 and 5 and said they either equalled or is 30.  There was no way to predict how my students would make sense of this problem and figure out they didn't have enough information to figure out the answer to the question.  Boys and girls were successful.  I had several surprises in these responses.  Students who are quick to compute numbers didn't always figure out they didn't have information about the painter.  A few students who work a bit hard to compute problems figure out this problem wasn't making sense. What I enjoyed the most was watching those who figured out the problem didn't make sense and their verbal reposes, I hope you can infer the inflection many of my students used.

It looks like we have more work to do with mathematical practice one, focusing on making sense of our problems before solving them by thinking carefully.


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Monday, November 10, 2014

Math Monday - PD Book Review Month-to-Month Guide

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


I just finished reading Second Grade Math  A Month-to-Month Guide by Nancy Litton.  I know I'm always need for a great read about mathematics when it's published by the Math Solutions group with the forward coming from Marilyn Burns herself.  As the title indicates, Nancy takes the reader through an entire school year with ideas and suggestions month by month.  I've been teaching for quite some time and still find nuggets of goodness to walk away with.  The first chapter actually address your classroom set up, organization, and routines before the children arrive.  It's reaffirming as an educator to find suggestions I had in place and to discover ideas with a more sophisticated twist for second graders.  I will definitely do a name sort with a Venn diagram looking at syllables and letters in the name at the same time on the first day of school next year.  I  implemented our morning routine right away to include Today's Number Routine, a book about equations.  What struck me the most as I read this book, was the amount of time needed in second grade for developing place value, addition and subtraction understandings with students.  This book was written before the Common Core Standards came to be and these three areas should of been dominating our focus back then, also.  There are several math games my students are loving and quite engaged with that I've chosen to use in class and then have them shared at home as part of our Family Math program.  Another idea from the month of April, was to do a graph with how many letters are in your name but to take it a step further; which letter is used most often in our first names.  Writing about our math process and thinking is a piece of each activity and each activity is centered around the mathematical processes which is the heart and soul of applying mathematics.  If you are looking for a book to anchor your thinking and math workshop then I would suggest any of the books in this series.



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Monday, November 3, 2014

Math Monday - A Math Video Library to Explore.

Welcome and thanks for stopping by for Math Monday!

Today I wanted to share a resource I have just begun to explore.  Teaching Math: A Video Library, K-4 is brought to us by the Annenberg Lerner organization.  An organization committed to advancing excellent teaching by producing and sharing multimedia resources.  They also provide lesson plans for the ideas they share.  They have been in existence for three decades.  This organization not only focuses on the student as learner but also the classroom teacher.  They also have resources for all content areas and provide videos for all ages.  

My friend who shared this with me did have a couple of cautions.  Her first advice when watching a video is to look at the math being taught and done.  Her second tidbit of advice is to not analyze or look at the classroom setting.  She said the videos are old and our classrooms today don't look like the ones in the videos.  However, she did say if you can look beyond the setting and focus on the instruction valuable things are to be learned and explored.  

I can't wait to use The Window Puzzle, number 13! My friend recommended this to me as one that could meet various needs within one classroom. The video is interesting to watch and confirms different approaches students may use depending on their own mathematical development.  I also love and anticipate I will find more activities where there is more than one solution possible encouraging independent thinking and multiple solutions.  Enjoy and share in the comments if you discover a problem/activity you will be trying in your classroom.

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don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are thinking mathematically!

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Also, if you tweet about your Math Monday post, don't forget to use #MathMon!