Ten Percent Increase- Pt 1

Oh the joys of the start of school.  The smell of the newly sharpened pencils, clean unmarked whiteboards,  and teacher’s CAASPP scores being reviewed.

As part of my district’s annual tradition, we always start off with a district wide kickoff.  The Board of Ed waves and smiles.  Our district’s Teacher of the Year says a few inspiring words.  Teacher with mucho years of service are honored.  Lastly, schools’ scores are announced.  This year my school’s math scores went up 10%.  That was the highest math gain in our entire district.  Our superintendent also gave us a shout out in his speech.  

And that brings us to an interesting story of how we got the 10 percent increase.  

(Sept. 2017) Within my first month of joining the elementary school, our superintendent came to a staff meeting to do a Q & A with our staff.  It was an opportunity for him to speak to teachers about the going-ons of the district.  I saw it as the perfect time to ask him my burning question–math.  My exact question to him was I know that the district’s focus for the past few years has been the reading initiative, but what are you doing for elementary math?”   Since my position as the elementary math TOSA was dissolved months prior to this question, I wanted to hear directly from him .  My elementary colleagues were upset that they had gotten rid of my position (so many of them had been making such incredible strides in their teaching), however they had my back in asking this question. They also gave me a warm welcome in joining their staff.

The superintendent was completely taken by surprise and started telling us of his wife who teaches 2nd grade.  She and her colleagues always taught math like a checklist of standards.  They rather teach art instead. And so in his mind, he figured “elementary teachers don’t like teaching math.”   

Now let me paint you a picture...  with his statement…you saw wide eyes and gaping mouths.  You heard absolute silence (with the exception of a few gasps).  When the teachers’ minds finally processed what he said, slowly many of them started raising their hands and shouting “I like teaching math.”   His reply was “really, because your scores don’t show it.”  At that moment, there were a few people ready to start flipping tables.  

Now… I could very well give my opinion about this encounter with our superintendent, but I’m just gonna leave it alone.  Let’s just say that he didn’t leave with a fan club.  

If anything, this encounter got the teachers fired up.  In the days following, many of the teachers broke out their math t-shirts and truly showed their love of math. (It was also rumored that he was going to come back for a tour and they wanted to send him a message)  Here are a few of them…

 

Now…I know this doesn’t explain our ten percent increase.  However, it is the precursor to the rest of the year and the work that was done.  

In the next blog post….I’ll explain details our the math intervention that we put in place.

Until next time,

Kristen

 

12 Ways to Get 11

As I have said countless times in previous posts, my 6th graders have been math buddies with a kindergarten class.  The other kinder teacher and I spend numerous hours trying to create and plan different activities for both classes to do.  One of the books I came across on Twitter was 12 Ways to Get 11 by Eve Merriam.  

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While planning, we purposely waited to do this activity when kindergarten was much more in tune with their addition facts and when 6th grade needed a break from testing.

I let my collaborative partner perform and read the book.  She’s so expressive with her reading.  The kinder students involved themselves at counting everything to 11.  After the book was read, we counted things around the room to 11.  For instance, students noticed that there were exactly 11 clouds hanging from the ceiling (complete coincidence!).  Students also noticed 11 months that were listed next to the calendar (May was being used on the calendar).

 

Next, we let both sets of students explore combinations of 11.  We explained that more than 2 numbers could add up to 11. My students love working with cuisenaire rods (their manipulative of choice).  

This is what they came up with.  I loved seeing how each set of students would represent the combinations.  Kindergarten mostly just used the rods, where as my students had to represent the combinations with drawings, sketches, or some sort of visual representation.

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Here’s some footage of what we observed.

 

We wish we had more time to do more with this activity.  We meant to go back to it, but other things get thrown at us at the end of the school year.

Until next time,

Kristen

 

Tallest Teacher

In the fall, my kindergarten collaborator and I did a heights unit with her students and with my 6th graders.  She covered the standard that directly compares 2 objects with a measureable attribute (K.MD.2) while I covered my standard on inequalities.   Both Mrs. Z and I thought it went extremely well.   It really contextualized the math standards.  

But our unit and planning didn’t stop there.

May—

Because of all the stress and pressure of testing in May, I wanted to keep my afternoons less stressful, but engaging.  During math time, Mrs. Z and I set up another week of exploration with heights, but this time we made sure to hit different standards and design different activities.  Kinder was going to use the heights of themselves and a buddy to figure out the difference between the two measurements.  My students were going to convert the measurements into feet and inches.  (6.RP.3d Use ratio reasoning to convert measurement units; manipulate and transform units appropriately when multiplying or dividing quantities)

Day 1 – We introduced both groups to a 3 Act lesson we called “Tallest Teacher.”  We combined both our classes so that we could deliver the lesson only once.  Plus we wanted to see if the buddies would help each other out.   They also discovered that my partner likes to cheat.

Lots of notice and wonder as seen here….IMG_4607

Act 2 consisted of a little bit of information…

 

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Act 3 was this grand finale.  Yes—Mrs. A is ginormous.

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Here is some pics of the student work from kinder.  Don’t have pictures of 6th grade work, but I can report that half my class did exceedingly well…except they don’t know how to convert a remainder into part of a foot.  

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Day 2 –  Now it was time to trace our bodies.  Giggles and laughter was heard throughout the hour.  Mrs Z. and I could be seen running back and forth between both our classrooms making sure everyone was ok and not being stepped on.

This took some prep work on our part.  Gathering over 50 pieces of bulletin board paper was not an easy feat.

Day 3/4 –  It’s measurement time.  Unlike the last time, students were only allowed to use unifix cubes.  We combined each color into units of 10 to make counting easier.  Ironically, my 6th grade students didn’t catch onto this as I caught a few counting each individual cube.  

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Final Thoughts…

  • My 6th grade students love that we do things differently.  I’m not the textbook kind of teacher (and neither is Mrs. Z).  We like when we can make the standards come to life.  
  • Again…this has the potential to be noisy and disturb other teachers.  However the learning is amazing.  The engagement is incredible.  Stick with your gut and go for it!
  • Using cubes as a measurement was pretty cool, but my students had a difficult time converting them into inches.  I had to spoon feed it to them a bit.  
  • Here’s a copy of tallest teacher

 

Until next time…

Kristen

New Heights

One of the reasons I decided to make the move to elementary was due to my strong partnership with a kindergarten teacher.   When my coaching position was dissolved, I had the choice of heading back to middle school.  However, she convinced me to teach 6th grade at her school (and literally across the hall from her).    I really do like having a broader range of students to access.  At my school, we have 700 TK through 6th grade (ages 4-12).  

In being the new addition to the school, I was eager to collaborate with other grade levels.  Mrs. Z (kinder teacher) and I took advantage of our proximity and became “kindergarten buddies.”   My 6th graders partnered up with her kindergarten students.  At first my students would mostly read books to her students, but as the year progressed we started doing some very cool math stuff.  We learned how to make any activity work for her kindergarten math standards as well as my 6th grade standards!!!  It was pretty amazing (they’ll be more blog posts about other activities—I’m so behind in blogging).  

November —

Mrs. Z wanted to do a height activity that she’s done with her students before.  She asked me if she could get assistance from my students.  This involved taping the heights of her students (as well as mine) on the outside of our classrooms for the whole school to see.  This would actively engage the students in her standard  K.MD.A.2 – Describe and compare measurable attributes. Directly compare two objects with a measurable attribute in common to see which object has “more of”/ “less of” the attribute and describe the difference.  

Day 1. We started off asking them who was tallest, Mrs Z or myself (Mrs. A).

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We figured out which teacher was tallest.

Day 1—6th graders mark/taped the kindergarteners’ heights.

Day 2 – 6th graders mark/tape their own heights using painters’ tape.  6th grade also measures their heights in inches.  Kindergarten proceeds with discussing who’s taller/tallest/the same height.

 

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Day 3/4—-  Now you might be thinking that 6th grade should be way past this kind of stuff.  Little did my students know, this would be valuable information for one of their standards.  

6th grade standard – 6.EE.B.8 Write an inequality to represent a condition in a real world or mathematical problem.

Before we started this unit, I told the students that they were going to Knotts Berry Farm.  Thanks to Robert Kaplinsky, we used his lesson “Which Ride Can You Go On?”   After 6th grade found their heights (in inches), they ran across the hallway and measured their kinder buddies’ heights.   Then they figured out the inequality for each ride and figured out if they or their buddies could go on the ride.  

Our principal didn’t know what was going on, but she saw engagement.  Other kinder teachers soon followed suit asking us what we doing (same goes for my 6th grade colleagues).  Kindergartners really enjoyed quality time with their 6th grade counterparts.  And of course, Mrs. Z and I completely played off each other (as per usual).

Here’s what we learned….

  • Always use painters tape, however don’t leave it on too long as the sun will melt the adhesive and make it quite difficult to peel off the walls.  
  • pre-tape/section off where students will measure themselves.  Mrs. Z made name stickers, while my students wrote their names somewhere using Sharpies.
  • 6th graders still need practice using a ruler.  I didn’t even dare to ask them to convert inches into feet.
  • This activity has the potential to be noisy.  Warn the classrooms around you….But remember…this is great learning.
  • Loved that my students got a more conceptual understanding of what inequalities are and a real world connection.  Ironically, we actually went to Knotts Berry Farm months later and they still remembered this lesson!


This wasn’t the end of our unit.  This was only part 1!!!!  Part 2 was done in the spring and will be written as a separate blog post.  Coming soon…..

Until next time,

Kristen 

Create your own clothesline

For the past few months, I’ve been completely sidelined with another project that required my full attention and writing skills.  Luckily, the project is finished and now it’s the waiting game.  SO my apologies for my disappearance.  However, I have a few blog posts that I’m going to catch up on in the next few weeks.

As most of you know, I’m a clothesline math enthusiast.  Love the routine.  Love the conversation surrounding it.  Love that it creates student engagement.  As a matter of fact, some of you might have seen this.  Chris Shore wrote a full book about it and gave me and my school an acknowledgement.  Super cool.

 

 

 

When it was time for my fractions, decimals, and percent unit, I was thrilled to use the clothesline.  I wanted my students to see the interconnectedness between each of the concepts.   After I taught them the skills needed (how to convert fractions to decimals, decimals to percents and fractions to percents), I broke out the clothesline.  This time, instead of pre-designated cards, I had my students design their own.  With the use of a hundreds grid, my kids got to design color in as many squares as they wanted.  From there, they collaborated with their table groups and figured out the fraction, decimal and percent of the grids colored in compared to 100. 

 

Once they put them on the clothesline, we had a discussion about percentages less than 1% (and what they would look like).  We also had a discussion on 200% and where that would go in comparison to 100%.  Big math argument.  One student put 200% to the right of 100%.  Other students were arguing that it should be equally spaced compared to where 0-100% was placed.  100%-200% should be the same distance.

 

 

 

 

The lesson was a success.  But I had a revelation about clothesline.  Rather than me choosing with fraction, percents, decimals to, did I increase student engagement with having students create their own?  Is there more ownership with student-created clotheslines?  More importantly, how could other grade levels create their own clotheslines?

This sparked a new category of clotheslines.  I tried out my idea with a kindergarten intervention group.  The students were enthusiastic about it.  They liked seeing how many different ways we could create a certain number.  I saw the potential of using blank tens frames.  Kindergarten also creates their own with the use of the names. (see here)

 

 

Here are my latest additions to the clothesline world.  I’ve created blank templates in hopes that our students can take ownership of their own clotheslines.

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double10frame

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Fraction Decimal Percent

 

Until next time,

Kristen

Empowerment

A few months ago, I was invited to come back to my alma mater, Frostburg State University.  You might be saying…Frost who?  Yes it sounds cold—and yes it holds true to its name.  Frostburg State University is a university situated in a small, former coal mining town in the Alleghany Mountains of western Maryland.  Over 100 years ago, FSU used to be a teachers college (and a terrific one at that), but eventually diversified into a university.  It’s not a huge college by the likes of UCLA, USC, or any of the other big name colleges.  As a matter of fact, you probably didn’t know it existed.  But that’s what makes it oh-so-special.  And as I drove in on Friday morning (fresh from my red-eye flight from LAX), there was snow falling and 32 degree temps to welcome me.   I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

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This weekend, they held a conference (called the Sloop Institute for Excellence in Leadership) in which future leaders of FSU participated and learned from alumni about different leadership topics such as teamwork, communications, and building relationships.   I was asked to present on “Developing and Empowering Others.” 

 

For the beginning part of the day, the directors had the alumni “host” tables as the students moved about the room every 10 minutes.  It was like Leadership Speed Dating.  The topic I hosted was about empowerment (did I tell you I felt like a morning talk show host leading the discussion?!?)  They gave us a few questions that looked like this….

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I asked the kids if they knew what empowerment was.  Here’s a few answers I got.

  • “Bringing out the potential in others.  Helping others find what’s in themselves that they didn’t know existed.”  ~Melanie
  •  “Building others up with positive energy”  ~ Emma
  •  “Lift & motivate.  Do something they wouldn’t do.”  ~ Magnus
  •  “Instill change, be positive” ~Madison
  •  “Give a bigger role within their skill set” ~Ben
  •  “Facilitate opportunity to better themselves” ~Lucas
  •  “Giving people the tools they need to succeed” ~Katie
  •  “As you become successful, you want others to be successful with you” ~Tyler
  • “Use weakness as a strength.  In order to be empowered, you have to be empowered yourself” ~ Marilyn

We had not officially started the presentation portion of the day, and I was impressed.  In my head, I kept thinking “you better bring your A game—they are not messing around.”  These students weren’t what I was expecting.  They were insightful.  They took initiative.  They had drive. They had purpose. They had passion.   They already exuded professionalism.  It was quite extraordinary to hold a mentoring-type conversation with these young minds because they were highly engaged.  They wanted to learn from our experiences.  What was unique was that there were so many alumni from so many different fields of study.  I was the only alumni with an education major, but I found that my experience was just as valuable as anyone else’s. 

After the round-table discussions, we were excused to the next building where 5 of us alumni would spend the rest of the day with the students and complete our presentations.

One alumni presented on Communication.  What I learned from his presentation was about what the “Sound of Silence” meant. 

The Sound of Silence could be…

  • sound of someone thinking
  • sound of new ideas
  • sound of calm determination in face of a challenge
  • sound of leadership
  • silent opposition

Another colleague presented on the effective teamwork.  We discussed the characteristics of effective teams by looking at pictures of fireman, a football team, and “Modern Family.”

 

And then eventually it was my turn.  Last presentation of the day.  The students have been sitting there patiently all day looking forward to dinner. Their heads were saturated with leadership jargon.  Because of those circumstances, I was really nervous.   

And even though the teacher part of me was screaming to come out, I held back.  Instead, I became a story teller in hopes of inspiring them. I started the conversation with defining empowerment.  We discussed power versus influence.  And then I told my story. It’s the story of 2 teachers empowering each other.   We laughed. We cried.  We wondered.  We learned that titles/power don’t matter.   They could affect more people with their influence.    Screenshot 2018-03-13 20.17.12

And instead of just talking about it, I gave them an assignment to do it.  Go empower someone and then tell me about it.  Just because I’m headed back to the west coast doesn’t mean that the conversation has to stop.   The conversation is just beginning.  They were tasked to keep in touch and tell me their stories of empowerment.   

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Luckily, the FSU students were with me the entire way.  I had one student stop me afterward.  This student had tears in his eyes and thanked me.  He said that our story reminded him of his mother.  His mother was a teacher of over 20 years and she’s trying to challenge herself too.  All I could do was give him a ginormous hug and thank him for sharing.  It was a heart-felt moment.   Another student ran up telling me that she realized that empowerment was “good karma”.  Yes! Spot on. High Five!!  The students were buzzing afterwards.  They looked like they were ready to conquer the world.  It made me feel proud to be a part of their education.

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Now I await to see if the students do their “homework.” I’m anxious to see/hear how they take the topic they heard about and put it into action.   I’m curious how far my story or my messages will go.  I wonder what will happen next.

Until next time,

Kristen

Southern Cali. Kinder Conf. 2018

When you hear “kindergarten”, some of my math peeps will shudder and shake. The idea of teaching “the little people” is an exhausting task.  However, this has been part of my universe for a few years now in thanks to my math partner, Stacy.

We have been exploring different conferences with enthusiasm.  We have brought our math story to primary teachers in Northern and Southern California.  At these conferences, I looked forward to meeting different math educators that I kept up with through MTBoS (Math Twitter Blog-O-Sphere).  I would eagerly introduce them to Stacy and tell our story.  They welcomed us with open arms and were intrigued by our partnership. 

This weekend was different.  Instead of Stacy entering my world of math folks, I entered hers of the kindergarten clan.  Rather than be one of thousands of math educators, we were one of three sessions featuring math.   It was a world of songs, bright colors, and construction paper.   Stacy spent the time pointing out different people to me while I tried to “blend” in.  When introducing myself as a 6th grade teacher/math coach, I was repeatedly asked “What are you doing here?”  But then I told our story and why I attend, and they were interested in what we had to say.  

We were scheduled during the toughest time slot–Friday at 5:45.  These primary teachers had been sitting in sessions all day long.  But we persisted.  We showed them “Which One Doesn’t Belong”, clothesline math, and the flipped hundreds chart.   Luckily for us, our participants were enthusiastic.  We challenged their thinking.  And in turn—they challenged us.  One asked, “why are you here for kindergarten?”  I answered her “it was because the little ones are outstanding mathematicians.”   I stand by that.  

We were different from the other sessions in that we didn’t sell our stuff on Teacher Pay Teacher.  We weren’t at the conference with any company selling their goods.  We were there to spread the word of math.  “Math can be fun and interactive,” we told them.  While presenting, we kept telling them we have them covered.  We gave them thumb drives will all kinds of files on it (including all the clothesline cards).  “That deserves a round of applause,” claimed one of our participants.  When I heard that, I remember looking at Stacy who was beaming with her brightest smile.   We did it.  

In a previous post, I had explained how we keep trying to improve our presentation skills.  With this one in the books, we have hit our stride.  We have accomplished what we have set out to doempower more teachers and reach more children with our love of math.  As I keep exploring other conferences and venues for our work, there’s more that can be done in helping the primary teachers.  

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Until next time,

Kristen (& Stacy)

Asilomar 2017

My math partner, Stacy and I were once again fortunate to present this last weekend.  We were invited to speak at California Math Council’s northern conference at Asilomar. We had never been to the northern conference, so we were eager to compare it to our experience in Palm Springs (last year).  I had heard that this was smaller and more intimate, but with better speakers because of its proximity to the Bay Area.  

First of all, the ground of Asilomar are gorgeous.  If you never been, Asilomar was like a leadership retreat-type place surrounded with trees all the while the ocean waves were crashing in the background.  When we were checking into our rooms, there was a random deer waiting for us (no joke).   It was quaint.  It was peaceful and zen-like. 

We were running into all these math heroes every step and every turn.  While backing out the car, I was close to running over Dan Meyer, Zak Champagne and Mike Flynn.  While walking to explore the beach, there was Marilyn Burns taking a stroll in maroon hat.  We helped Ruth Parker get inside our residential building.  It was like being at an  All-Star Math Camp.  

Friday night we went to see and hear from Dr. Jo Boaler.  While waiting to hear from her, I ran into this guy–Chris Shore.  We’ve been planning something for next year.  Incredible guy.  We caught up with each other while Stacy listened in on Dr. Boaler.

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Chris Shore (@mathprojects)  #ClubClothesline

Saturday morning came and it was our time to shine.  Stacy and I presented on the flipped hundreds chart and our work on clothesline math to about 15 teachers.  Really engaged participants.  Lots of conversation.  Lots of sharing.  We felt incredible.  It seems like we keep getting better.  We have found purpose with what we are doing.  

One of our participants stopped us in the hall afterwards and congratulated us on our session.  He said that he couldn’t believe how engaging we were.  We made the session feel really personal.  We were really energetic with our participants and made everyone feel welcome.  Usually there are sessions where there are “talking heads,” but we were the quite the opposite.  And on top of all this, that we made him think about what’s going on in the classroom.

The rest of our Saturday was spent seeing other speakers.  We got to listen in on Annie Fetter and her thoughts on writing for math.  We listened in on Cathy Humphreys as she explained her dissertation on mathematical agency.  Lastly, we attended Ann Carlise and her K-2 number talks with number lines session.

Usually I look for one thing to bring home and use.  I say that if you can just gleam one thing from any professional development, then it’s worth it.  I was lucky enough to have a math partner to talk this through.  We like poking each other with questions and then come to a conclusion. 

When all was mostly done, we questioned what we got out of this conference.  Stacy and I learned something far greater then what some of these great authors and math educators were telling us.  

  • We figured out what kind of speakers we want to continue to be.  We need to be us. The comments from one our participants really was thought provoking.  And that was just our personalities.  We want to be personable in our sessions.  I don’t want to be a “talking head.”  If you know who we are, we are completely the opposite of that.  And we won’t change that.  That’s who we are.
  • One of our expectations is that our participants walk away with something that they could use the next day.  In some of the sessions we attended as participants, that wasn’t happening.  There was lots of theory, but I wouldn’t know what to do with the information in my classroom.  Because of us flying up north, we couldn’t bring our full “show.”   I’ve been expecting our participants to look up all our resources on my blog, but I don’t know if that’s happening. How do we make sure they fully leave with something in hand?  (We have ideas).

We would go again in a heart beat.  We learned more about ourselves then we expected and that was major leap forward.  We didn’t expect that, but we couldn’t pass up processing our thoughts on the subject.  

And so we continue to grow.  Onto the next conference.

Until next time….

keep laughing & keep smiling,

Kristen 

Making sense of conversions

My son, Jared, is in 6th grade.  He has told me he thinks it’s “cool” that I’m teaching 6th grade too.  According to him, we have stuff to talk about.  I can finally help him with his homework.  (Really?  Like I’ve never been able to help you with any of your other homework?!?  What the what?!?!?).  Of course I left that last editorial in my head, but I think I knew what he was talking about.   I think he meant that we are finally at the same grade level as teacher (me) and student.  

On one evening, he was having trouble with conversions of measurements. This was his homework.IMG_6073

I asked him about his notes from class.  “How did your teacher teach this?  Where are your notes?

And this is what he showed me.

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“Memorize the 3 steps.” Uh–no.

 I was not thrilled to see “memorize” on my son’s notes.  It dawned on my husband and I that our son’s teacher has only been teaching a few years.  He’s probably used to just memorizing steps and procedures.  I don’t like to teach that way.  I like to teach for understanding.  I like to teach more conceptually.  I like to have my students make sense of a problem rather than “memorize” steps.

Just for kicks and giggles, I went to page 290 to see what is said.  This is what I found.

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Here are the “steps” my son was asked to memorize

I sat and stared at his paper and at the “steps.” If my son didn’t understand and remember the steps, how could I get him to comprehend what they were asking?

I looked at the 1st question again.  “If 16 C = 1 gallon, then 8 gallons = ________?”  Rather than doing a fancy algorithm or proportion (which he hadn’t done in the curriculum–my husband had an issue with that.), I went back to the basics.  Let’s draw a picture.  

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16 cups are in one gallon (rectangles).  8 gallons with 16 cups in each.   Once I sat and explained the situation to my son, the lightbulb went off in his head.  “Oh mom, all you have to do is multiply 16 times 8 to get the number of cups.”  BINGO!  

And the rest of the hour, we drew pictures, diagrams, and whatever else helped him make sense of the conversions.  And each time we drew a new picture, the lightbulb kept going off in his head.  (Proud Math teacher and Mom!)IMG_9373

The next day after school, I asked my son if his teacher said anything about the homework we did.   My son told me that his teacher said,you should have done it the way I told you too.”   ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?

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I “heart” Tina Fey.

MATH RANT – –   After close to twenty years of teaching math, this just blew me out of the water.  It is no secret that there are many ways to get answers to math problems.  I usually give the anecdote that there are many ways to get from here to New York.  Some ways are faster, some ways are slower, some ways are more expensive and that’s ok.  Pick which way works best for you…..as long as you get to NY.  Same goes for math.  It is our job and soul purpose to teach our students.  It is well known that one size doesn’t fit all.  One approach to solving conversions doesn’t work for everyone.  Why are we still having students memorize procedures if they don’t understand the problem?  What happened to making sense of things? It only happens to be the first standard of math practice!!!    It baffles me that this is from a newer teacher who hasn’t done any conceptual lessons and/or applications.   The whole thing blows my mind! Maybe it’s also the realization that not every math teacher thinks or teaches like me.  

So what do we do?  Do we challenge teachers like this?  Is it worth the fight when they may not understand the importance themselves?  

My son’s situation just proves that there’s more work to be done out there.  Teachers still need training.  And just because we, in our youth, learned to memorize procedures, doesn’t mean we actually made sense of things.  

Math rant over. Disengaging.  

Until next time, 

Kristen

Sassy Cents – a 3 act lesson

Since being back in the classroom, I’ve made it a point to include either a performance task, a 3 act lesson, or sometimes both with every unit of math.  I have to admit that it’s been fun to put what I’ve learned as a coach to work.  Not only am I a better teacher for it, but my team trusts my judgement and goes along with all my crazy plans.  

This lesson started when I realized how many coins my family had collected in a jar.  We usually run off to our local grocery store to exchange them for Amazon money. IMG_2306 It was all I could do to hold off my husband from exchanging them.  I saw much potential in this pile of coins.   

While planning over the summer, I came across the standard 6.NS.B.3- Fluently add, subtract, multiply, and divide multi-digit decimals using the standards algorithm for each operation.  With the suggestions from my son, this new 3 Act lesson, Sassy Cents, was born.

Act 1 –

While the video played, I wrote down the classes comments to each other.  Some sat in silence. As the video progressed to show the emoji, I heard “OOOOHHHH.”  “She’s rich”  “That’s a lot of change.” “It’s huge!”  “How long did that take?”  

(Awesome—I have them hooked!)

My students love doing notice and wonder.  They know the routine so well and expect with any new “thing” I show them.

Notice – 

  • There’s a pattern —dimes had heads/tails
  • many piles of change
  • there’s a tongue
  • emoji made of coins
  • only 1 eye opened and 1 eye closed
  • dime – penny – nickel – quarter = 1 stack
  • coins going from small to big
  • all money is cents or coins
  • each pile – 41 cents
  • lots of coins
  • emoji on table —–> we saw a chair

Wonder – 

  • How long did it take to do?
  • How many coins make up the emoji?
  • Why did I use only coins?
  • How many of each coin?
  • How many sets of coins?
  • How much does the emoji cost?  or total worth?
  • What that emoji?
  • Which part took the longest? —did it take hours or days to make?
  • Why made video?
  • Why one eye opened and one eye closed?

 

The next step was an estimation bit.  I wanted them to estimate how much money the emoji was worth.  A great observation came from one of the students.  Do we estimate in dollars or cents?   They settled on dollars and cents.  Their best estimates ranged from $20 to $80.

 

Act 2 consisted of making sure they knew what a bit of info.  I gave them info on what one stack of coins looked like.  I also gave them the amount of stacks for each part of the emoji.  For differentiation reasons, I figured it would be helpful to give them a choice of how they wanted to solve for the emoji.

 The students worked vigorously on their calculations.  This was a perfect way for them to practice their multiplication and addition of decimals.  Lots of practice with decimal points.  

At one point, one of my students sat there finished.  I checked his work and asked him to explain his method.  This is what he told me….

 

Act 3 – 

Screenshot 2017-10-05 20.55.58It was a relief to see one of my students articulate his thinking so well.  Many of the other students seemed to figure out each part separately before adding their totals up.  This child did his own thinking and that’s ok with me.

I love telling my students that’s there’s many way to get to New York.  Some ways are faster, some ways are slower, some ways are longer….but the important thing is that we get there.  Math is the same waymany different ways to get to an answer, but the important idea is that you find a method that works for you and you go for it.  

Until next time,

Kristen