Monday, January 26, 2015

Math Monday - If You Listen, Then...



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


I haven't had to teach telling time for the past ten years.  As I began looking for resources I visited one of my online favorites georgiastandards.org and discovered their unit Understanding Measurement, Length, and Time.  The lesson Building a Number Line Clock peaked my interest right away and I began asking all sorts of questions.  What does this look like?  How would you use it?  I wonder if it makes a connection between something they know to something new?  As I read the lesson, I got very excited about the connections between a number line and an analog clock and couldn't wait to launch our unit on telling time by building our own number line clocks.


Together we built this number line counting the squares per rectangle.  A student thought it looked like a clock.

We took that suggestion and converted our number line.



Each student then built their own transitional clock.  As I listened while they worked, I was intrigued by the happy comments.  A little girl kept repeating, "This is so much fun!"  Another little boy was saying to a neighbor, "This is the best day ever!"  They kept repeating it over and over for almost ten minutes.  As I pondered why they were so excited about this math lesson, I realized they were truly happy.  They were truly engaged with numbers.  They were creating something new and different to construct knowledge.  This is how I want math workshop to sound, feel, and look.  A workshop filled with joy, conversation, and action.  By listening, I know how my students want their math workshop to sound, feel and look.


Leave your link within a comment and 
don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are thinking mathematically!

To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
it would be nice for you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Math Monday post, don't forget to use #mathmonday!

Monday, January 19, 2015

#nf10for10 is Coming!

Today is the official start for the Nonfiction 10 for 10, blog-o-sphere sharing event countdown. It is just one month away.  We are hoping new and old friends will join us to share their favorite nonfiction picture books. February is the month of love and most teachers I know LOVE books.  

Cathy and I host the Picture book 10 for 10 in August which is always fun because we are fresh and excited for a new school year.  In 2013, our friend Julie suggested hosting a Nonfiction Picture Book 10 for 10 and boy were we glad she did.  We didn't mean to ignore the world of nonfiction with our picture book love.  After doing some research on the kinds of books people were sharing for #pb10for10, we noticed most posts were sharing books that didn't include any nonfiction titles.   I know all of my readers are aware of the movement, aka Common Core, to raise the amount of reading our students and focusing on a 50/50 split between fiction and nonfiction.

My 2013 list of ten from last year to help give you an idea of what a general favorite list could look like.  It's also fun to put a spin on your list with a theme or any unique reason you can think of to gather ten books.  Last year I found a reason to create a theme list and it had nonfiction books for a house with three girls, My 2014 list.  Here is our twitter hashtag feed - #nf10for10, to stay up to date with those joining us and reminders.  

We have some sad news about how we have gathered everyone's posts in one spot.  Jog the Web has disappeared and our previous collections have too.  Don't fret and don't cry - my fearless partner Cathy has tried out some new options and together we decided on creating a Google Community to bring our post together in one spot.  I am so lucky to have Cathy figure this out while I'm being a busy mom on a Sunday and for collaborating via texts all day.  Cathy has shared more details for how our actual sharing day will go in her post, Nonfiction Picture Book 10 for 10 #nf10for10.  Cathy also kept a secret from me yesterday but created an AWESOME visual to help you know we've found a new home for our event.  Isn't this perfect?



Here are the official details to participate and it's really easy, we hope to see you there.

Math Monday - My Relationship with a Math Textbook

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



Oh, math textbook
I'm giving you a look

I didn't think it was fair
To sit and glare

You deserve a chance
Before I take a stance

I'm trying 
But then I'm almost crying

For now,
a rest is best



@Mandy E Robek, 2015

Last Thursday night I was wrestling with my journey using a resource provided by my district to teach our math curriculum.  After writing this poem and revising it a bit, I shared it by joining Poetry Friday.  When I reread the poem, I knew I wanted to say more because these feelings/this poem could be saying no to textbooks, consider the textbook, no to textbooks and I didn't want my thinking to end like this.

Teachers need help teaching.  Teachers need resources to help guide their instruction.  Our job is hard enough day to day to have to reinvent the wheel from scratch each day in all subject areas.  I have never been against textbooks/resources.  I am younger than Math Their Way but loved using that when I began my teaching.  If you are old enough to remember Mathland, I was a huge fan of this program.  I was a trained facilitator for my school district when we adopted Everyday Math from the University of Chicago.  I wasn't thrilled we went with this program but realized not everyone is comfortable with teaching math and we need those colleagues to have some support.  There were/are some great ideas in this program and then came the Common Core.  The reactive response could be to buy one of the first resources available and that is what my current district did.  

I've written earlier this year about my discovering and realizing the resource isn't working for one reason or another.  I have had moments this year when I do cry or my stomach hurts over things in my current math textbook and I find myself taking a break and then I go back to it.  Let's talk about why I take a break and why I go back.

Why I take a break from a math textbook/resource.  

1.  The activities or problems DO NOT match the curriculum.
2.  The order of the content doesn't match a natural math learning progression.
3.  The lessons are heavy in paper pencil learning.
4.  The presentation of a concept is awkward as it is worded in the textbook.
5.  The lessons are lecture format.
6.  The lessons are limited in using manipulatives. 
7.  The pacing is too fast!

Why I will return to a math textbook resource.

1.  There are some good ideas and the authors had good intentions.  
             No one writes a math textbook to do harm and be evil.
2.  There are new words for old things.  For example, fact families are now number bonds.
3.  There are ideas for reteaching, extra practice, and extending students.
4.  I can adjust ideas presented in the textbook.
5.  It gives me common ground for talking with colleagues.
6.  It's making me do a lot of thinking about teaching math.

Right now I need to take a break from the math textbook because my frustration is high.  A small break will let me return to it with fresh eyes.  I plan on continuing this year by looking at the textbook first but giving myself a bit more freedom to adjust and pull from my extensive Math Solutions personal library until I have my feet fully immersed in second grade math.  I've decided it's okay to need a little bit of help while learning new standards to teach and it's okay to find moments to do what I know to be best for students.




Leave your link within a comment and 
don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are thinking mathematically!

To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
it would be nice for you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Math Monday post, don't forget to use #mathmonday!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Poetry Friday - Oh, Math Textbook

Oh, math textbook
I'm giving you a look

I didn't think it was fair
To sit and glare

You deserve a chance
Before I take a stance

I'm trying 
But then I'm almost crying

For now,
a rest is best



@Mandy E Robek, 2015


Thank you Irene at Live Your Poem for hosting Poetry Friday this week.  I always enjoy spending some weekend reading time visiting Poetry Friday posts and I'm feeling lucky it's a long weekend for more reading time.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

New to Me - Little Author in the Big Woods

When I was a little girl I devoured The Little House on the Prairie series as a reader.  I believe it was each Monday night we would gather for the weekly television show and I think secretly I thought I was one of the Ingalls girls.  I'm not sure which one I was, but I'm pretty sure I was jealous of my sister Carrie because she actually had a name of one the Ingalls girls.

I recently reviewed, Little Author in the Big Woods A Biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Yona Zeldis McDonough for the IRA Teacher's Choices.  In general, I'm really drawn to the narrative biography format and find it interesting to read.  I think it's a great format idea to help engage children with history and informational text.  While reading Little Author in the Big Woods I found myself having flashbacks to my younger days of reading and viewing this story.  All three formats mesh together because of this narrative form.  However, the book series does share new factual information about Laura's life and the travels her family lived.  It also does a great job explaining why they moved quite often and the hardships they had.  I found myself thinking, I've never heard this before and trying to remember when events happened that were new to me from reading this book.  I think I realized my younger experiences with Laura Ingalls didn't include all the details and adventures the family had.  I enjoyed reading a bit more factual piece about characters I still hold dear to my heart.



Here are three parts I love from this story and hope you find, if you pick this book up.

-"She didn't know it, but her future life as a writer was already beginning, right there amid the pages of those newspapers."  (She was reading newspapers)

-"and although she did not know it, making pictures with words for her sister was preparing her for what would be her life's work: it was turning a bright, observant girl who loved reading into a full-fledged writer."

-"Her salary would be $20.00 a month.  That seemed like so much money!"  (Her first teaching job.)

I knew Laura Ingalls was a writer when I was little but reading this book as an adult with new eyes I realized Laura was more than the book series and television show.  I found information about her parents to be quite different at times and very interesting.  Laura was an activist, wrote articles and had her first book rejected a few times before being published.  

This book is for an intermediate reader independently but I could see a second grader hearing it as a read aloud with a special adult after or before learning/reading the Little House on the Prairie series.  

The end of the book has a small collection of quotes and if you know the   "fictional" Laura this might make you smile.  "Once you begin being naughty, it is easier to go on and on, and sooner or later something dreadful happens."  


Monday, January 12, 2015

Math Monday - Math Game Resource

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

Math Games for Independent Practice by Jamee Petersen is a great new resource from 2013.  Jamee is a consultant for Math Solutions and created this resource after working with teachers and seeing them being overwhelmed with the thought of pulling together games to use during math workshop.  You have to love Jamee for taking action to make our work easier!

If you are familiar with using math games during math workshop or for a Family Math program you will find some familiar games.  What I love about Jamee's collection is the additional insight for using these games with our students.  Each game is explained with four components; the connection, the teaching, active engagement, and the link.  This organization puts your math teaching into a workshop format and there is lots of guidance here for you to be successful.   Each game also has teaching tips, differentiating your instruction tips, a workshop summary, and tips for assessments related to the game.  There are plenty of new games too for those already using math games.

Jamee makes finding games a snap based on your needs.  There is an index organized alphabetically with grade level indication, by grade level and standards, and then by different materials used.  I easily found a game for addition that involved strategy and addends to 25, last week.

I've spent the first half of the year pulling 15 games from various resources and feel lucky to have this resource to use for a bit.  Everything is in one place and reproducibles are included in the back.  



Leave your link within a comment and 
don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are thinking mathematically!

To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
it would be nice for you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Math Monday post, don't forget to use #mathmonday!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

New to Me - Big Plans by Bob Shea and Lane Smith

My second grade-reading journey is very exciting because I am continuously discovering new books to me.  


The other morning my friend @JoEllenMcCarthy tweeted some suggestions of picture books for the beginning of a new year.  Many of the titles I didn't know.  I ran to school and our school library didn't have them so I favorited her tweet and thought I will have to explore these later and next year I would think through goal setting, revisiting our thinking about learning, and/or resolutions with more thought.  Then later that evening @missmac100 shared a sheet she used with her students about one goal and three learning interests.  I loved her sheet because it combined goals and interests.  She also had the students think about an action they could take to pursue their interest.  I've borrowed her idea and reviewed @JoEllenMcCarthy's selection of books but didn't see one that was just right for this.  Then I used google and discovered Big Plans by Bob Shea and Lane Smith.  

I'm not surprised that Big Plans is filled with humorous illustrations and lots of opportunities to read the story with inflection.  A little boy begins brainstorming plans, goals for life and is very excited to share his ideas.  He shouts them at the top of his lungs.  He has large ambitions.  He has a bird for a side kick who is a good follower and provides helpful feedback.  What I like about this book is the willingness of this little boy to dream big and make plans for huge ideas.  I found myself needing to read this book twice to follow the story line with all the dialogue and would recommend reading it twice before talking about generating goals with your students.

I had taken a winter break from Twitter and thought it was a bit nice but the power of our PLN for ideas and fostering our thinking can't be ignored.  




Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Slice of Life - Dashing About for Reading

It's a snow day and how will I start my day?  It's cold and chilly.  The house is quiet and I'm 60% through a book on my kindle.  I realize a cup of warm tea, a half made bed, and my kindle are calling my name.  

I "sneak" downstairs because I don't want the dogs to know I'm awake.  Realizing they can both see me while I make my cup of tea but I make NO eye contact with either of them.  I dash back upstairs, make my bed and crawl in on my side with propped pillows just right for a cozy reading spot.  

I begin reading in on my kindle and not too long into my reading the 15% battery power message lights up.  Bummer.  My cord isn't long enough to recharge and stay in this little cozy spot I've created.  I really don't want to change spots so I think about just reading until it runs out and then start my day with something else.  Then I begin brainstorming and pretty quickly realize I need an extension cord and my reading plans can continue.  

I leap out of bed.  I quickly dash down two flights of stairs to the basement.  I quickly pick up my green extension cord.  I quickly dash back up two flights of stairs and try out the extension cord idea.  All the while hoping my dashing about will go unnoticed by two dogs who can still see me.  Perfect!  I was able to stay in that cozy reading spot and finish reading my book and that is how I started my day.

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Math Monday - Math Workshop, First Day Back


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


Today ends our winter break and we return to the classroom.  I know how exciting it will be to have our classroom community together again.  I know we will need time to reconnect with each other.  I know we will need time to remember routines and adjust to a full day of learning.  Let's be honest - holidays, winter break and being at home does not have the same demands of living together with twenty plus friends.  

Over the past two decades, I've learned that a new year and a fresh start can be very exciting for me.   I know my students can do more but have learned that when I over plan or throw new learning at any pace on the first day back from an extended vacation, our classroom community can get run down and tired before lunch time.  

I realized this post would of been more helpful last week but I wasn't thinking about today last week.  So, how am I starting our math learning in 2015?  The students are going to meet with their new math learning partner.  They are going to share the answers to three questions with them.

1.  What do you enjoy or like about math?
2.  Is there anything you don't like about math?
3.  What's one thing you think is important for math partners to do to be successful?

Then they are going to have the opportunity to select and revisit any of the dozen math games we played the first half of the school year together.  I think revisiting something they know together will help create a safety net for them to take risks with each other.  I also want to foster conversations between math learning partners while remembering routines and content we have previously worked on.  I recently saw this information about play at our local art museum and think it's important in our classrooms, in any discipline.



Leave your link within a comment and 
don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are thinking mathematically!

To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
it would be nice for you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Math Monday post, don't forget to use #mathmonday!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Nourish - One Little Word 2015

Happy New Year 2015, better late than never and I wanted to share with you my One Little Word for 2015.  Instead of creating a New Years Resolution and always wanting to have many I've chosen to participate in the One Little Word project and ideas from scrapbooker/storyteller Ali Edwards.  If you haven't read anything by Ali, I highly recommend you stop by her blog.  The past seven years I have chosen enjoy, aware, nuture, discover, change, create, and embrace. 

This year before winter break, I wrote a Slice of Life title - It's dead, but wait....!  I didn't realize that was the beginning of my One Little Word selection journey.  With some nurturing and some nourishment that thought for dead, plant is making a great comeback.  Green shoots keep popping up.  Green shoots keep growing taller and I'm anticipating some buds might appear soon.  Then I went succulent plant shopping with my oldest.  She's all giddy about succulent plants and it was so fun watching her ooo and ahhh over these cute little plants.  I walked around the indoor plant area of this store and I realized I use to have more plants in my home.  I have lots of live plants in my classroom.  I then began to wonder if I have been ignoring some things in my home and my life.

These two recent plant events led me to dictionary.com with lots of thinking pondering and thinking over nurture and nourish.  I purposefully didn't want to pick nurture because the definition involves a strong message about teaching.  My life needs to be more than teaching in my home and out of my home.  I also didn't realize I had even picked nurture previously until I started researching my blog for this post.  I think that sends a strong message that nurture didn't work back then very well if I can't even remember selecting it.

If you follow me on Instagram you will see a video of my first documentation with nourish and how I've gotten to know my word for the year.  Parts two and three of the definition really solidified this word choice for me this year - to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up or promote.  I discovered lots of words in the thesaurus but three words made my heart flutter; cultivate, sustain, and encourage.  I think nourish is an invitation for many areas of my life; writing, reading, creating, playing, relationships, and health.  In my previous six years of choosing One Little Word, relationships never came up within my selection process.  I need to do some exploring, mending, and adjusting with relationships and myself.  I hope nourish will help me continue to find balance, let go, be present, and do things I enjoy.  

I've kept my journey with my One Little Word quite private during the year but hope to write about it monthly.  I'm always inspired by Maria's monthly updates.  I was also listening to two podcasts at the gym this week from the Elise Gets Crafty show and found some inspiration to keep nourish present in my life.  Crystal Moody was a guest and shared her goal of sketching all last year and how posting and sharing her sketches on Instagram was encouraging and motivating.  So, I hope to share ways I keep nourish alive with the hashtag #olwnourish and I think it will be fun to see the different areas in my life nourish is thriving.