Monday, July 30, 2012

Math Work Stations

Hi Friends! I am writing a quick post to let you know I just finished my first of many (hopefully - we'll see) packs of math work stations - which deals with number sense. I think these stations will be great for 1st or 2nd grade and can be easily differentiated. Here is a little preview...

Click on the picture to check it out! Hope you're all having a great Monday!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

CAFE freebie

Hi friends! Just checking in to let you know I've added a few things to my tpt store....

I made these CAFE posters...that are free :)


I can't seem to get them all on the same line, but you get the picture!

I've also been working on new alphabet cards and number cards with ten frame dots to go with what I've been learning about number sense this summer.

Those are some examples...I'm really into polka dots right now (clearly) - and I'm going with a purple, blue, and green theme! All can be picked up here!

Hope you're all having a great Tuesday! I feel like it's the most productive I've been all summer...I'm almost finished with a pack of number sense math stations too :)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Apps in the Classroom

Hope at 2nd Grade Shenanigans is having a great linky for sharing favorite apps. She shared what seems like a must-have for keeping track of clssroom library books, called Book Retriever (99 cents). I bought it, but don't have any books here to try it out at the moment. Check out her post on it here!


Unfortunately I don't have ipads or ipods in my classroom, but I do have an iphone and let my students use it if I have to. An app I recently heard about and plan to use this year is called Songify. Basically you just talk into the phone and the app turns your speech into a song. It's pretty cool! I plan to use it for assessment purposes mainly. I'm trying to think more creatively with assessments - and I think this will totally work! I know kids will have fun telling me what they learned about any given topic and then hearing it back into a song. Talk about motivation! I'm sure there's a way to hook my phone up to speakers, or at least a computer for the whole class to hear either a student's song - or groups of students' songs. I feel like it's so quick and easy that there would be countless ways to use it!'s free! Can't beat that :)

Has anyone else used this one? I'd love to hear how!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Timed Tests, Favorite Books, and Strategy Posters

This is going to be a post of randomness, but if you can make it all the way to the end, I would really love your opinion on something I read :)

First, I'll start with my favorite topic - picture books! The Teacher Wife is hosting a linky for must have picture books. It's pretty hard to narrow it down to five - especially when I am not in my classroom - but I will try! Be sure to stop by her party to get some great titles!!

1. I love all books by Chris van Allsburg - I read so many of his books to my kids every year and they are so great for questioning, inferring, and predicting!

2. I also love William Steig. His books are great for vocabulary as well as strategy instruction. 

3. You all know Fancy Nancy. My students and I just love her stories! I use these books to teach vocabulary strategies and have a bulletin board in my classroom for Fancy Words.

4. This is one of my favorite books to pull out during our writing unit on poetry. The CD that comes with it is AWESOME!!! It really helps kids hear the rhythm and music in poetry.

5. Another author I love is Steve Jenkins. His books are informational - and one of my favorite attributes of his books is that he uses comparison to convey information. The pictures are fab as well.

Just writing this makes me excited about books :)

Ok - on to the next topic...strategy posters!

I have finished making 9 addition strategy posters that are on my tpt store. Thanks to Amy for helping me edit them!! I hope they came out ok. Here is a preview:

Last but not least, timed (math) tests. Do you do them??? I do....and I did as a student as well. I am currently reading this book:

and this is what is says, "Teachers who use timed tests believe that the tests help children learn basic facts. This makes no instructional sense. Children who perform well under time pressure display their skills. Children who have difficulty with skills, or who work more slowly, run the risk of reinforcing wrong learning under pressure. In addition, children can become fearful and negative toward their math learning."

It went on to say, "If there is any defensible purpose for a timed test of basic facts it may be for diagnosis -- to determine which combinations are mastered and which remain to be learned. Even for diagnostic purposes there is little reason for a timed test more than every couple months."

I would LOOOOVE to know your thoughts on this! It is making me reconsider doing timed tests once a week (basic addition and subtraction facts - where kids move on to the next one once they pass). 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Made it Monday!

I never thought I'd be able to link up with 4th Grade Frolics for this fun linky party because I'm not the most crafty person around! But thanks to some of my favorite bloggers, I have stolen some ideas and actually made something! Yay!

Jill over at Marvelous Multiagers made these adorable spacers out of popsicle sticks, googly eyes, and mod podge. I copied her exactly, but used the thinner popsicle sticks. Here is how they came out:

I think I will call them Space Men...or Space Women!

Then, Alisha at from Bubbly Blonde Teacher made some great things with glitter, including clothespins. I have been wanting to do this for awhile, so again, copied her - and even though mine aren't quite as nice as hers did - here is how mine came out:

I think I will use these to hang anchor charts and student work. 

Don't forget to check out what everyone else is making and link up over at:

Friday, July 13, 2012

Mental Math...and a favor

I just finished reading this book - and I have to say it is a must read! It does such a great job breaking down the difference between "school mathematics" and "mathematizing." At the end of the day we want our students to understand math in the context of the real world (If we have 862 books in our classroom library how could we organize them into bins?)  rather than be able to solve a problem for a test (862/20=?). 

My favorite chapter of this book was "Chapter 6: Addition and Subtraction Facts on the Horizon." I don't know about you, but every year I am frustrated by how few of my students really know their addition facts 1-20 by heart. After reading this chapter, I feel like the problem is not that my students come from homes that don't help with their homework or that education is way undervalued, but because I have put too much of an emphasis on memorization rather than understanding the relationship between numbers as well as the relationship between addition and subtraction. 

Some common addition strategies are:

1. Doubles plus or minus -- 5 + 6 = 5 + 5 + 1

2. Working with the structure of 5 -- 6 + 7 = 5 + 1 + 5 + 2 = 10 + 3 = 13

3. Making tens -- 9 + 7 = 10 + 6 = 16

4. Using Compensation -- 7 + 9 =  8 + 8 = 16

5. Using known facts -- 3 + 2 = 5, so 4 + 2 must be 5 +1 = 6

So - how do we get our kids to use these strategies with automaticity (rather than relying on their fingers or a number grid)???

Based on Chapter 6 and Chapter 8: Developing Efficient Computation with Minilessons, Fosnot suggests that we give our students opportunities to try out these strategies everyday -- through number sense routines like the rekenrek -- or during mini-lessons that are "designed specifically to highlight certain strategies and to develop efficient mental math computation," all while embedding everything in an open-ended, real-life context. Whew! 

The strategies Fosnot suggests we develop during minilessons are:

1. Doubles and Near Doubles with Addition: Use 5 + 5 to solve 5 + 6

2. Splitting: 27 + 42 might be solved by adding 20 + 40 and 7 + 2 and then 60 + 9

3. Making Jumps of Ten: 27 + 42 = 42 + 10 + 10 + 7

4. Moving to the Next "Friendly" Number: 48 + 37 - we want our students to notice how close 48 is to 50 and make the problem 50 + 35.

5. Swapping: 293 + 919 = 213 + 999 (as long as the digits represent the same place value swapping them can make for an easier mental math problem). 213 + 999 = 212 + 1000 = 1212

6. Adding vs. Removing: This is where we want our students to see the relationship between addition and subtraction. When the numbers are close together it is easier to add on, but when they are far apart, it is easier to work backward. For example, 44-3 (easier to count backward), whereas 44-27 (easier to count up.

7. Doubles and Near Doubles with Subtraction: 42-20 = 40 - 20 + 2

8. Making Jumps of Ten Backward: 150 - 39 = 150 - 10 -10 -10 -9

9. Moving to the Next Friendly Ten: 153-34 - solve it by going back to 150, then back 30 to 120 then back one to 119.

10. Constant Difference: This is sort of like the compensation strategy for addition, but since compensation doesn't work for subtraction, we have to do constant difference. 39-21 = 40 - 22

11. Canceling out Common Amounts: This one is great for larger numbers! 107,005 - 100,002...100,000 can be cancelled out - so the problem turns into 7,005 - 2. Much easier!

I also loved the chapter on assessment. If you use Everyday Math, then maybe you have felt some of the same frustrations as me. As much as I like a lot of the program, the end of unit assessments always seem so random. We could have just spent a week on fractions and on the test students are expected to have function machines mastered - or something equally as random. The unit grades always feel a bit arbitrary. My feelings were definitely affirmed. A big theme of this chapter is that skills do not equal thinking, skills do not equal strategies, and concepts do not equal big ideas. Fosnot encourages us to use assessments that are open enough for children to solve them in a variety of ways. "If we want to assess levels of mathematizing, then we need to open the tasks up and look at the way in which the answer to the question is found, not just whether the answer is found."

These pictures are supposed to be stacked on each other and are what Fosnot refers to as the "Landscape of Learning." I wish the font was bigger - thats as close as I could get with my phone. She says, "The landscape of learning (which is comprised of strategies, big ideas, and models) informs the rubric used to analyze it (a problem/assessment) but it in turn also informs how it is taught." She went on to say that when we give open ended assessments many children's answers may be the same or just slightly different, but the key is that each child's position on the landscape of learning will be very varied. For example if the problem is 72 + 38 - one student may solve the problem correctly using tallies and counting by 1s, while another may use splitting by adding 70 + 30 and 2 + 8 and then 100 + 10. Clearly the second child has a much stronger sense of numbers because he used a more efficient and sophisticated strategy. 

After reading this book, I now plan to run my math workshop like this:

10 min. warm-up with math routines (see posts on those here)
15 min. mini-lesson (from Everyday Math, but using a more open-ended, contextual approach)
15 min. independent investigation (I will conference with students - I am hoping about 3 a day)
10 min. "Math Congress" where we share out strategies and keep learning from each other
20 min. work stations (Debbie Diller style) while I meet with my Tier 3 group

That is a total of 70 minutes of math. I don't know that I have 70 minutes for math in my day, but hopefully this will work! I will have to be very conscious of time! 

Last, but not least, I have a favor to ask. I made some posters to go with the addition strategies Fosnot talks about. There are 9 total and I want to put them on my TPT store, but I'd love if someone else looked at them first. They make sense to me, but I want to know they make sense to other people as well. If you would be willing to look them over, of course you can have them for free! 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Math Conferences Freebie

All of my math reading and my blog stalking (there is a group of teachers reading the Guided Math book) have inspired me to revamp my whole math structure. Part of my plan is to incorporate a true workshop model with conferring and all. Conferring in reader's workshop and writer's workshop has been the one thing that I always question if I am doing it right. Am I meeting with a student for too long? How often should I meet with each student? How do I keep track of how my conferences and make sure there is some continuity and that I am working with each student toward a specific horizon? I feel like conferences require a delicate balance between making sure to give a meaningful teaching point and making sure to keep conferences brief in order to get to everyone in a reasonable timeframe - possibly each week or every other week - depending on class size. Something that has really helped me in reader's workshop is using a binder with tabs for each student to keep track of our conferences. So I thought I would create something (almost the exact same) for math! Here is what I came up with:

It looks weird with no borders - but I promise it looks normal in real life. Anyway - if you want a copy - it's free on my TPT store. If you grab it - let me know what you think :)

P.S. Click on the picture below to head over to Primary Inspired - she is hosting the Guided Math Book Study.

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Couple Blogger Questions

I am posting today (selfishly) with a couple blogger questions that I'm hoping someone can answer. They seem like simple things, but I just can't figure it out. Maybe some others are wondering the same thing :) (or maybe I'm the only one!).

My first question is:
When you comment on someone's blog, and you sign your name after your comment - I see lots of people also leave a link to their blog...but they don't write out the whole url (like I do) - they just have the title of their blog there and when you click on it - it takes you directly to their blog. How did you all do that??  

My second question is:
When I am scrolling through my google reader I notice that many of you have your blog button or favicon pictured next to your blog name rather than the blogger orange and white symbol. I also notice the same thing when posting comments on blogs. When I comment, the orange blogger symbol is next to my comment. How can I change those to be pictures of my blog button/ favicon? 

Thanks for listening and thanks in advance for your helpful answers! 

I'm reading yet another math book called, Young Mathematicians at Work: Constructing NUmber Sense, Addition, and Subtraction, by Catherine Twomey Fosnot. It's really good so far - I will definitely be back soon with a post about what I'm learning. Has anyone read this book or used her investigations in class before? 

Who's excited for the Bachelorette tonight?!?!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Math Workshop/ Math Work Stations

First of all, thanks to the amazing teachers who have joined my first linky party! I've gotten some great ideas already!!! If you haven't linked up yet, please join here :)

As you probably can tell, June has been my math month (although I'm already 2 books behind since it's technically July). I wanted to make something I can use for my math meeting where I will incorporate lots of the ideas from Number Sense Routines. So I made a bunch of different ten frames and quick images to use whole class and in small groups. I'm also thinking of ways I can use them as a work station - especially the ten frames. I created a few different versions of each for differentiating. You can get them at my tpt store if you'd like :)

I hope you all are staying cool - it's been so hot here in Chicago!! 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Math Workshop and My First Linky Party!!

I have to admit, I am a little nervous about hosting a linky party...1) because I am not great at the technology aspect and could possibly mess it up completely and 2) because what if no one wants to link up? :) 

After reading Number Sense Routines, I couldn't help but wonder how everyone out there teaches math. I think I have 60, maybe 70 minutes at best to teach math daily, and am wondering how people fit it all in! It seems like a lot of people are blogging about math lately and I'm curious to see how you all are applying what they are learning!

Last year I tried to combine the workshop model with Everyday Math. It was a tight squeeze, but I liked it much better than just whole class math with Everyday Math everyday. My math block looked like this:

15 min. - warm-up/ mini-lesson/ routine (rekenrek, count around the circle, problem solving, introduce a new work station, etc.)

20 min. - math work station and I would meet with my tier 3 group
I use Debbie Diller's book a lot to determine my work stations and manage them. I also pull from Everyday Math and TpT to find games and activities for the work stations.

This is the only picture I have to show how I organize the work stations. The bins on the bottom shelf (with the pink and green labels) are my work stations. I have 6 stations - with 2 different versions of each to make 12 total stations. I also use for a computer station and myself as another station. 
20 min. - Whole group Everyday Math lesson - I usually just do Part 1 of the lesson and then give a 7-10 minutes for independent practice where I try to get around to my tier 2 kids to make sure they are keeping up.

My goal is to use Everyday Math more as a resource than as a day-to-day guide. Does anyone else do that?

I'd love to hear how you all organize your math blocks!! Please link up to a previous post or a new post having to do with your math block - and if you want, use the picture above to link back here. Thanks so much!!