Saturday, October 31, 2015

Celebrate this Week - Finding Joy

This week I celebrate it's finding joy for students and myself.

While reading an On Demand Narrative Piece I discovered Family Math is having a positive impact on students and families during a sister's birthday.  A win - win for everyone and my heart is full.  What we do matters.  Students are finding joy and choosing to do math for fun.  Learning should be fun.

"We got board of t.v. so we played my family math game!  It was very fun and I won. It felt like I was in card maineya!!!!!!!!"

Thank you to Ruth Ayers for fostering a community where celebrations are found and shared.  Reminding us of the joy in our daily lives, inside and outside our classrooms. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Tigers by Valerie Bodden

After using Tigers by Valerie Bodden during a mini lesson yesterday, I fell in love  it.  On the surface it looked like a great nonfiction book for younger readers.  The photographs are brilliant and large; almost a whole page size in most cases.  The text is big for younger readers and not too much print on a page.  The photographs have just a one sentence caption which is perfect because the photos are focused requiring just one sentence.  I quickly scanned and saw a few words in bold typeface and thought we've got some things to work with here for a mini-lesson.  

We are currently talking about nonfiction keywords and if we can predict some words we might see while we are reading it will make our reading go better.  It will sound better and we will understand better the "lingo" on nonfiction books.  The book Tigers was suggested as a mentor text to use for using nonfition features to help find keywords and understand what they mean.  I find glossaries a bit challenging for younger readers because they may not want to stop and flip to the back of the book to find the definition of a keyword.  Valerie Bodden must have great insight for early readers because she puts the definition for her words in bold print at the bottom of the page, easily accessible for the reader.  This makes the reading process easier to navigate and helps foster more meaning for the reader.  

I'm a bit worried because during lunch yesterday, I discovered this book is part of the Amazing Animals series published by Creative Paperbacks and there are 16 books in the series.  I want them all!

Thank you Alyson at Kid Lit Frenzy for encouraging us to share nonfiction picture books all year on Wednesdays.  

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Slice of Life - I Didn't Expect to Get Homework!

"That didn't just happen."
"Did I just get homework from my daughter's principal?"
"I think I did."
"Do I walk around with book reader stamped in on my forehead?"
"Do I walk around with one who is always learning stamped on my forehead?"
"Did I just get homework from my daughter's principal?"
"I just got homework from my daughter's principal!"
"It's not a small assignment, it's to read a whole book!"

I had a great meeting with my daughter's principal a couple of weeks ago.  I've had some concerns about her learning, we've done some tutoring and wanted to get some support through school with something we finally found helpful for spelling.  I requested some testing be done and the results were what I expected but to be truthful, I was hoping to find an explanation and didn't besides she didn't learn how to spell in the right way for her.  It's a tricky conversation to have when you also teach in the district.  I just wanted to review some thinking with him and I really enjoyed our conversation and his willingness to realize we needed to keep momentum going with combination of school and home being united.  We are blessed to have a great team of teachers working with her this year, also.

I never expected to leave with a book to read!  He had just finished reading Drive by Daniel Pink and offered for me to read his copy.  I offered to buy my own version and he declined, handing me his copy.  I said I had a couple of books to finish first and he said, "no hurry."  As I read the blurb and the introduction, my appreciation for our meeting grew deeper.  I think he quickly listened and thought this book might be interesting to Mandy as a parent and a teacher.  He didn't know I was a reader.  He didn't know if I would follow through or did he?  One day, when I return this book I'm going to ask, why did you give me this book to read.  I'd love to know his point of view for why I got homework from the principal!

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for inviting teachers to write and share their writing with each other.  This community helps teachers and students grow in writing.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Math Monday - Wrestling with Fluently and Memory

In February of this year, I wrote a post Math Fact Fluency has Literacy Connections and here I am back wrestling with -

Fluently add and subtract within 20 using mental strategies.2 By end of Grade 2, know from memory all sums of two one-digit numbers.

I was thinking and driving this week and realized this standard has two words I need to wrestle with; fluently and memory.  I got a little bit excited because it reminded me of my work with two other tricky words while teaching kindergarten; prompting and support. Let's look at the definitions for fluently and memory.

fluently - spoken or written with ease

memory - the mental capacity or faculty of retaining and reviving facts, events, impressions, etc., or of recalling or recognizing previous experiences.

I want to jump up, dance and start singing!  These two definitions don't include a set number of problems.  These two definitions don't include an amount of time.  These two definitions don't include a clock!  But now I want to look at another word - ease.

ease - freedom from difficulty or great effort; facility:  It can be done with ease.

I find these three definitions quite interesting and having a place in my math workshop.  I see verbal and/or written recall as an option.  I see the need for students to easily use their memory to recall basic facts just as they recall the letters of the alphabet.  Here's an interesting thought I just had, we don't ask student to write the letters of the alphabet under a minute why would we ask students to do this with math facts?  I see students working on learning their basic facts without worry and difficulty.  This might mean looking closely at students needs and working with them in different ways.  We have students identify letters of the alphabet orally, why not have them show fluently, memory, and ease of basic math facts orally?  We surround emergent readers with stories, predictable language, shared readings and read alouds.  Let's surround our mathematicians with math stories, mental strategies, math games and images of math.  I think this will guide our students work towards fluently, memory, and ease with addition and subtraction.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Celebrate This Week - It's Okay and Memories

This week I celebrate it's okay and memories.  

For weeks I asked, what would you like to do for your birthday?  I would toss out all kinds of ideas; big, small, nothing, go somewhere, and silence.  This past Monday out of the blue I got a bubbly response.  "Mom, I want to relive one of my childhood birthday parties with my friends.  They never got to come because we met in middle school and our parties are always the best!"  My reply, "Great idea, plan it and I will get the things we need."  Inside I began to wonder how would we pull this off for Friday night.

We did pull this off and the evening has been filled costumes, pizza and wings, creating spider cupcakes, playing pin the spider on the web, mummy wrapping a friend, relay races, presents, making "spooky" halloween treats for the movie which is occurring right now with lots of laughter, music, and talk.  The house is full of joy.

While shopping for everything Thursday night, yes the night before I found myself talking to myself a lot.  It's okay I didn't do any school work.  It's okay my plans were sketchy in my mind.  It's okay I put work aside because the house is full of joy and joy matters.  While this started out as reliving a childhood memory it's turned into making new childhood memories.  

Thank you to Ruth Ayers for fostering a community where celebrations are found and shared.  Reminding us of the joy in our daily lives, inside and outside our classrooms. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

I don't like koala by Sean Ferrell

This past weekend I picked up I don't Like Koala by Sean Ferrell with pictures by Charles Santoso and I can't wait to share it with my students this week.  I don't like, is a pretty strong opinion for the character Adam to have about his stuffed koala.  He tries to tell his parents his opinion but they don't understand why Adam would feel this way.  Koala is always with Adam which is a bit of a mystery since Adam puts him away in different locations.  He tries to lose him but he keeps resurfacing. The expressions Charles Santoso has created to help these two characters tell their story really help generate feelings for Adam and Koala.  Then one night, Adam realizes there is something more terrible than Koala and he is grateful to have Koala there to comfort him.  I hope you pick up this book to find out what Adam is afraid of and to help students think about how opinions can change.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Slice of Life - I hear something...

It's the middle of the night.  I'm not sleeping well.  I seem to be laying awake and must drift off for small chunks of time because I hear a noise but I'm not registering what it is.  I feel tired but begin to get up because if feels like I should check on something.  

My friend and math conference roommate says anxiously, "Mandy, that's a fire alarm.  We've got to get out of here.  Grab your purse!"  I'm trying to process everything while I grab my purse and realize I need my glasses to see and a pair of shoes to go out of the room.  I realize boots weren't the most practical shoes to have for this emergency but I have nothing else.  I have to make them work with my pajama pants but slow down the GET OUT OF THE ROOM mode my roommate is in.  We are luckily on the first floor and walk out of the lobby and decide to sit in her car, which is in the front row of the parking lot.  The location of the car is very important because we were able to observe a lot.

Our observations were a bit alarming.  People were exciting the building slowly or standing in the lobby.  Many ladies had grabbed their purses.  There didn't seem to be enough people up and about for the size of the hotel.  The front desk help didn't seem alarmed.  Hotel guests were choosing to sit on the sidewalk right where a firetruck should pull up.  A very cute older conference attendee had put on her conference badge over her bathrobe.  While this was cute, I actually thought how smart it was for people to know her name.  The firetruck did pull up and hotel guests had to move.  All of these observations were happening at 4:15am.

After this experience, I reflected on a few things.  Pack flip flops for all trips.  They are very quick to put on and off.  Why don't we have a consistent fire alarm sound in every building in our country?  This hotel alarm sounded nothing like the fire alarm in my school building.  Why didn't the guests at the hotel move away from the building as they practiced growing up and going to school?  We hope our lessons in school carry over to real life and travel with a friend who is quick to respond to a fire alarm!

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for inviting teachers to write and share their writing with each other.  This community helps teachers and students grow in writing.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Math Monday: #OCTM2015 Recap

If you have never been to a math conference, you really need to consider going!  They are a lot of fun!  You get to connect with other teachers.  You get to pick sessions of interest which can provide new learning and opportunities to reflect.  Each time I attend the Ohio Council Teachers of Mathematics conference, I walk away energized. It's really fun to try and solve math problems with other people.  As much fun and maybe a bit more fun than talking about books with my literacy friends.

I think mathematics is really a topic people feel they need to have a speciality in to attend a math conference but you don't.   It's so energizing!  We actually need more elementary teachers attending this conference and presenting.  We can only benefit from getting together to learn for ourselves and our students.

During two days I attended 13 sessions, including one I presented and truth be told I went home on Friday with two more to go.  A total of 15 seasons in two days is well worth your money for this conference.  Also, for presenting one session you can attend free.  You could start thinking and planning right now, this school year to come and attend for free next October.  

I thought the best way for you to get a feel for this conference would be to recap my personal experience with the session title and either an ah-ha or a quote that is sticking with me since I left.

Moving from Performance to Learning with ODE/Annika Moore

                          Performance  vs   Learning
answers questions correctly              explore rich connections
take test                                         appreciate the beauty of mathematics
perform                                          learn about applicability

Q and A with ODE/Ann Carlson
"Good instruction leads to success.  It's not about preparing for a test, it's about quality instruction. Take  notes and offer feedback.  It will lead to future success."  

Implementing CGI in the Classroom with Emily Hermann
Organizing the sharing at the end of a math workshop is crucial.  One strategy would be to pass out number cards 1 -5 as you confer with students and then these students share with everyone in this order.   The order is established ahead of time for particular reasons.

Exploding Dots with James Tantum
I had a huge Ah ha moment here when I understood how I could use dots on a  place value chart to solve the answer.   It was basically understanding what a base 3 and a base 5 system for place value could look like.

Rich Tasks:  How Do You Select, Design, and Implement Them?  with Chris Bolognese
"We are way too eager to front load - it doesn't always have to be an application."

Focus and Rigor: Situation Word Problems and Basic Facts with Karen Boremen
"Use small numbers - we want Ss to see the concept and solve the numbers, not struggle with the numbers."

Number Lines as an Instructional Tool with Linda Price
Lots of ideas for using number lines in our math workshop including using it for elapsed time.  

Math Writing Tasks in Early Elementary Grades with Karl Kosko
Looking at writing argumentatively about math
    mathematical statements - making a math claim
    written recounts - describe own experience with the task
    procedural writing - describe procedures
            with mathematical quantities and/or operations K/1 goal
    mathematical descriptions - procedural writing with justifications
            and references that connect all the procedures together 2/3 goal
    mathematical explanations - descriptions that include a rationale, justification

Teaching Fractions Using Pattern Blocks with Lorraine Henn
"The value depends on the whole - big understanding for fractions."

Morning Math with Dori Daskalakis/Scott Mitter
"We don't learning anything for keeps unless it's in some kind of context."

Putting the Practices Into Action with John San Giovanni - AWESOME keynote!
He had me hooked within the introduction with this, "I know the great struggle and the great rewards of being a math teacher."  Headline News - grabs attention and summarizes - that's what an equation does.

Listening to Student's Thinking to Support their Mathematics Learning with Kim Yoak
"We can never assume, a correct answer does not necessarily indicate full understanding!"

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Celebrate This Week - Spaces

This week I celebrate spaces.  

I've been pondering this post for a few weeks and thought I would celebrate the various spaces in my life and how beautiful each one is as I wander in and out of each.  None of these spaces get equal time and sometimes they are neglected.  When I think about spaces being neglected, I realized that spaces don't mind a little neglect and they often call you back.  Spaces are forgiving and spaces are inviting.  Spaces can be overwhelming but spaces are comfortable with little steps.  

This week I particularly celebrate this space.

This space has been neglected.  This space has called me back.  This space is inviting me to write and share again.  This space is encouraging me to connect.  This space is willing to take little steps and be active again.  This space encourages rest amongst my busy days as I write and reflect.  This space doesn't need a plan.  This space doesn't need a schedule.  This space is happy I'll be writing again.

Thank you to Ruth Ayers for fostering a community where celebrations are found and shared.  Reminding us of the joy in our daily lives, inside and outside our classrooms. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

OCTM 2015 Presentation

If you were able to join me today at the Ohio Council of Teachers of Mathematics Conference - for my session on Using Mathematics to Connect Home and School, thank you!  I was honored and happy to spend time with you during the last session of Day 1.  If you weren't able to join me or even attend the conference here are the materials I shared and a glimpse at our thinking for the day.

You can find the full parent letter, communication sheet, and game directions in my OCTM 2015 folder.  I hope this will help you find meaningful ways to engage your students and families around mathematics.  They need guidance, it's much easier to go to the library or buy books than interact over mathematics.