Monday, September 26, 2016

Linking Math and Reading for Clarity {Math Monday}

When I started teaching, estimating was frequently done; maybe weekly to help build number sense.  As standards and time have changed, it seems the love classroom teachers and students once had for estimation has faded.  I don't think I realized how much it had faded until today during my mini lesson.  

I was measuring a crayon box to demonstrate how you can use a physical unit, a centimeter cube and use multiple copies of the physical unit to find the length.  I placed random spaces between the centimeter cubes and we discussed right away how the gaps of space weren't supposed to be there.  I was then able to introduce measuring by starting at the endpoint/beginning of an object.  As I switched to measuring the width of the crayon box, I asked my students to make an estimation about the crayon box width.

Several students asked me what the word estimation meant.  I saw several faces with a puzzled look.  My student's expressions showed a look of questioning and wanting to understand more.  I then made a connection to our work in reading and their looks of puzzlement went away.  Estimating is like predicting as readers.  It's so important we take the time to make connections between subject areas/disciplines.  

Monday, September 19, 2016

Writer's Notebooks inspire Math Journals {Math Monday}

As I reflected this summer about my math journals, I realized they had really become a math problem solving journal.  I had gotten away from student reflection, quick writes, and questioning that were once part of my math journals.  I wanted to make some changes and started tweeting with my friend Kassia, @kassiaowedekind as our conversation progressed another friend Kristin, @MathMinds joined in and our conversation went with how to set up the math journal.  

Kristin shared she has spiral and composition notebooks, she wants the students to have choice and to quote our tweet - "I just really wanted them to own it and not have the journal be something they saw as something they did for me."

I instantly thought about setting up writer's notebooks and how we let students decorate them for ownership. I then thought I could do this for our math journals! It's important to show student's how numbers are used daily and to make connections between them and numbers in our world. I knew over the years I had done a lesson maybe called Numbers and Me and started looking through a few resources.

In Minilessons for Math Practice, Grades K - 2 (intermediate friends there is a version for you) by Rusty Bresser and Caren Holtzman there's a lesson called Fit the Facts which was the perfect entry point for personalizing our math journals. I didn't want my young students just grasping at numbers to use and wanted them to have some preplanned options. Fit the Facts really helps students think about the reasonableness of numbers in context. For homework, the students found out numbers for their age, grade, address, height, miles away from school, favorite number, siblings, and pets. The goal for the class discussion for each student is to offer a student's numbers only, read them and then try to reason the best one for each sentence.

After discussing three student's Fit the Fact information I modeled ways students could pick 3 - 5 ideas from their homework to use to illustrate the front cover of their math journal. I also shared they could add one or two new ideas they have for numbers in their lives. It was so fun to watch their excitement as they personalized their journal covers and thought about numbers in a fun personal way.

Minilessons for Math Practice is great resource from the Math Solutions group.


Saturday, September 17, 2016

An Invitation {Celebrate this Week}

When I began teaching, I learned about a wonderful local organization promoting the use of children's literature in classrooms.  Several of my colleagues were involved with The Literacy Connection and I enjoyed hearing their conversations about the programming they were planning and organizing.  I attended a session or two early on and then didn't so I could be home as much as possible with the girls.  

I then switched school districts, needed some continuing education credits, and missed the spirit of my old school.  I decided to look into The Literacy Connection for their programming and fell in love.  Yes, it's true - I love my time I spend learning with The Literacy Connection community.  People come because they want to.  People choose to study a professional book for the year.  The author of these professional books comes twice to speak, share, and listen as we learn together.  I love listening to professional authors.

I'll never forget that first year I returned and navigated my way into Max Brand and Franki Sibberson's small group because I was a huge fan, quite the stalker move.  I hung back as I saw people start to gather and form groups.  I didn't make eye contact with a couple of people in my new district in hopes of being asked to join the neighboring school district which was closer to my house with Franki.  It worked.  I was going to go and visit Max Brand's classroom!  As I sat there with two of my heroes, I just wanted to pinch myself.  

After several years of attending, I finished and maxed out my continuing education credits and thought I would save some money and take a year or two off.  That didn't work, my heart was calling me to go.  Connecting with others who want to learn on a Saturday, drives my own work and passion.    Seeing friends from neighboring districts fuels my soul.  I called the Wednesday before the first Saturday and asked if I could still come.  Of course, they said yes.  

Today I attended my first board meeting for The Literacy Connection.  When I got my invitation email this summer I couldn't believe it.  I was so surprised and honored.  I'm really looking forward to my participation as a board member and continuing the work to promote childrens literature.  

If you are local or can travel, please consider joining us for our visits with Kate Roberts this year, as we study her and Maggie B Roberts book DIY Literacy, Teaching Tools for Differentiation, Rigor, and Independence.

Thank you Ruth at Ruth Ayers Writes for encouraging us to find daily celebrations in our lives.  If you want to read more positive things stop by this week's post, Hug Em'.


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Amplify Digital Teaching and Learning in the K-6 Classroom

There’s been a lot of discussion this year around Amplify!Digital Teaching and Learning in the K-6 Classroom by Katie Muhtaris and Kristin Ziemke and I’m so glad I included this in my stack of summer professional reading.  This book focuses on constructing and sharing knowledge using technology.  This book kept reminding me about the possibilities for student ownership and how independent students can be with some guided initial instruction.   There are so many nuggets within this text; ideas to try tomorrow, sample anchor charts, ideas for using technology within literacy learning, and ideas to help you as a teacher learn more to help your students.  This book is a must read because it's about creating, sharing, and empowering our students.  Their voices, ideas, and thoughts need to be shared beyond our classroom walls.

These are the nudges I found for the upcoming school year.

-        try to make a vlog myself and with my students

-        technology instruction can be framed in the a workshop format

-        model online reading and offer guided practice

-        expand our blog audience sooner and bigger

-        do a mini lesson on symbols to know, creating an anchor chart

-        combine technology with normal ideas I have to curate learning

Here are some quotes that are sticking with me and might interest you in looking at this book more.

- “Connecting with an audience is essential.”

- “Technology is a tool, not a panacea for fixing problems.”

- “The simple act of giving ourselves permission to stop and watch opens our eyes to the rich fabric of learning in our classroom.”

- In reading about pairing media with text, “We explicitly teach them to watch with a wide-awake mind by noting and naming the differences between viewing for enjoyment and viewing to learn new information.”

- “Oftentimes we combine this structure with unstructured experimentation by allowing students some time to play with a new tool before the lesson begins.”

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Mrs. Moody in the Birthday Jinx

Mrs. Moody in the Birthday Jinx by Megan McDonald is the newest addition to the Judy Moody and Friends series.  It was just released last week and I'm happy to add it to our classroom library.  The reader learns early on Mrs. Moody's birthdays turn out as something went-wrong-not-right.  Judy takes charge and rallies her father to make the perfect birthday cake and encourages her brother to make a homemade gift.  Judy is insisting things are handmade to show their mother they really do care; handmade is best.  This makes Judy my kind of girl.  

However, as you can predict things go a little wrong.  It actually becomes interesting to see how many things can go wrong and it's not always bad things happening it's just the reality of being a parent and your kids having needs or not liking sushi food for your birthday lunch.  One of the funniest mishaps was when Judy convinces her dad to make the perfect carrot cake.  He makes the cake and works really hard but it's a white cake not an orange cake.  Can you guess what vegetable he used instead of carrots?

Quite often children's books have a little nugget for adults to enjoy and this book had just what I needed to read and maybe someone in your life needs it too.  Mom is convincing Judy her birthday wasn't jinxed and things were okay.

"Noise is the sound of family," said Mom.  "And the best birthdays are full of noise."

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Anticipation and Faith {Slice of Life}

Low tide.
An opportunity to see the dolphins.
I've waited two years.

We are walking the beach.
Just N and I.
Three more join us.
The inlet seems further away.
Three leave us.

Faith keeps two walking.
Anticipation keeps us going,
Maybe a pinch of determination.
We see beach goers headed back.
Maybe we missed them.
Faith and anticipation turn into hope.

We arrive hopeful.
We scan the beach.
We wait with anticipation.
We start relying on faith and believing,
they will come.

This is at Seabrook Island in South Carolina.  One of the few places in the world where dolphins strand feed.  For more information - from the National Wildlife Federation.

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers group for hosting our writing community and you can enjoy other slices from today by stopping by the link provided.  Thank you for stopping by.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Hundreds Chart Resource {Math Monday}

Last week I was doing some addition and subtraction work during math workshop and discovered a third of my class was having difficulty taking ten away from any given double digit number.  I was a bit surprised.  I started to try and figure out why but quickly decided it didn't matter.  What did matter is I needed to help my students become more flexible with numbers from 0 - 100.  I knew the perfect tool I wanted to use was a hundreds chart.  

I knew the perfect resource I had at home and hadn't really  used yet was, It Makes Sense! Using the Hundreds Chart to Build Number Sense by Melissa Conklin and Stephanie Sheffield.  Whenever, I want to understand math mathematics more as a teacher or have my students develop their understandings further I always go to a Math Solutions resource.  

It Makes Sense! Using the Hundreds Chart to Build Number Sense begins with a How to Use this Resource section which grounds a teacher's reasons for using a hundreds chart; we want to help students build a mental model of our number system.  The goal of the lessons provided in this resource is to give students chances to think, reason, and talk about numbers.  The lessons do build on each other and there are activities you can use to mirror or follow up a lesson with.  These would be great for small group work or independent work during math workshop.

I have some friends who are uncomfortable teaching math and I have some friends who love teaching math.  This book is for everyone.  Each lesson has these components; overview, related lessons, key questions, teaching directions, teaching tip, technology tip, differentiating you instruction ideas, extensions, time savers, and ideas for when to end the lesson.  This list looks exhausting but I promise the text for each section is short and sweet.  Another added bonus within this book are pages filled with teacher reflection for each grade level K-2.  I don't know about you but I'm always looking for examples for the specific grade level I'm teaching that year. 

This past Friday I did Lesson 2, Building the Hundreds Chart (Version 2) and my students loved it.  They were totally engaged in math talk.  I learned which students really struggled adding or subtracting ten because they waited and would only place their numbers when there was an adding or subtracting one situation.  I will revisit this lesson with a small guided math group or two this week.  Today we are going to do arrow math together and then I'm going to use it for the rest of the week as an option during math workshop.  I envision writing arrow math clues for each other in hopes of creating more flexible mathematicians.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Listening {Celebrate this Week}

This week I'm celebrating taking the time to listen to my students.

I just completed my fourth week of school.  If you are in education you know all about the hustle and bustle of starting a new school year.  Each year things increase.  Each year crazy things are thrown at us that are nonnegotiable.  Each year there is a lot of self talk; get off this bus, slow down, and get back to what you know works.  Well, I can't completely get off the bus because I have to turn in the scores from three one minute probes to determine a child's fluency online and big brother is watching but what I can do is sit with my students.  I can ask them questions about their reading lives.  I can probe for more insight.  I can listen.  When I chose to listen, I found personality, honesty, warmth, and love in these new students; a formula for learning.

Do you have a favorite author?  Explain.
     I don’t really know much authors, I have this friend George he works at the library close to my house and I don’t know if he makes books but he is funny and a nice guy.

How do you feel about reading?
     bored sometimes, I find a lot of books I don’t like

What kinds of books do you like to read?
     Puff the Magic dragon, it’s a family favorite

Where do you read at home?
     I like to read in my room, it’s really quiet or outside

What was your last favorite book?  Explain
     I don’t really have one because I will technically read anything.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Beautiful by Stacy McAnulty {Blog Tour}

I am so excited to be hosting today's blog tour for the book, Beautiful by Stacy McAnulty.  I wish I had had this book when my daughters were younger.  It's a book celebrating the different ways girls can be and are beautiful.  It encourages the silly, the imagination, the playful, the explorer, the handicapped, the creative, and the athletic.  Joanne Lew-Vriethoff is the illustrator and her vision for the text really make the reader see beyond sterotypical thoughts with her colorful, engaging, and active illustrations.  I would love to know if Stacy and Joanne had conversations over their collaboration.  I loved the page that states girls are graceful and they are playing all different kinds of sports.  I enjoyed the page referring to girls having a smart style and they are exploring bugs, building things with tools and creating potions.  Each page made me stop and think about how the text and images were sending a different message when put together.  As I finished the book, I wondered if there was going to be a companion book for boys.

Thank you Running Press for Kids for my review copy.  Make sure you stop by these other blogs to read more thinking about this beautiful book, available now.

9/3 MomReadIt
9/8 MamaBelly