Combining Like Terms

Since being back in the classroom, I find myself doing activities with my lessons and thinking “I gotta blog about that.”  These ideas may not be profound, but you never know if there’s some teacher out there in the universe that could use this cool thing.

One of my goals every year is for my students to make sense of math.  And recently, one of our units (6th grade) was on equations and expressions.  One of the topics was combining like terms.

I first pass out playing cards (poker cards) to each student.  I made sure to use numbers 1 through 10.  I also make sure I pass out a variety of clubs, diamonds, spades and hearts usually just the numbers 2-10.

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Then I instruct the students to “combine like terms”.  Now this is usually when they give me the most quizzical look.  Then they try to ask a million questions, but I find myself just repeating myself with those 3 words.  “Combine Like Terms!”

When it looks like the students have settled down and found their partner, I take a survey of what cards they put together.  Here’s what they come up with.

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We recorded the pairs of cards when given the instructions to “combine like terms”

Without even looking, I can predict this every year.  And without any direction, I ask the students what their thinking was in pairing up.  The answers I get are usually 1. The 2 cards are the same color.  2. the numbers are the same.  3. The numbers are even or 4. they cards are sequential. 

After this initial pre-assessment, I show them examples of like terms and unlike terms.  Usually I have at least one student who will connect the lesson with the card activity.  

“Hey Mrs. A, what if we matched up the cards by the symbols?”

Bingo!  Now we are onto something.  

I proceeded to turning the  playing cards into algebraic expressions.  We used variables like D to represent for the diamond and H to represent the heart.  Those can’t be combined because they don’t have the same variable.   If you check back on the above picture…the only two cards that could be combined are the 7 of clubs and the 8 of clubs.  Those students partnered up because the cards were “in order,” however they realized during our post-lesson discussion that they were the only pair that could be considered the same terms.

By using manipulatives and contextualizing an abstract algebra topic, it makes it a little easier for the students to grasp.  

Until next time,

Kristen

CMC 2018

I love having a 3 day weekend, because I can catch up with a blog post or two.

Came back last weekend from a wonderful weekend of sunshine, the desert, and math.  Yes…I’m talking about California Math Council’s conference in Palm Springs.  Haven’t been in 2 years so I was anticipating some amazing ideas.

First of all, I had the honor and pleasure of co-presenting 2 sessions.  The first session was about the Progression of a Clothesline with Chris Shore, Andrew Stadel, and Dan Luevanos.  We had a packed house of participants who wanted to look at how Clothesline Math could not only impact the students in your classroom, but also you entire school (or your entire district).   Participants laughed, engaged, and were completely excited by the possibilities of the clothesline.  Heck…I even noticed (& wondered) Annie Fetter sitting in the audience (and she used it in the classroom immediately after).  

And then it was Stacy’s and my turn to lead our own K-6 Clothesline session to a room that help 140 people.  ***Gulp***  No pressure.  I have to admit that we are used to presenting to groups of 40, so this was a daunting and thrilling experience.  I wondered if our stuff was good enough.  I wondered if we would get anyone in our room.  Well…when I soon saw our room filling up to the point that we were at capacity (they closed the doors for fire codes)….then the nerves really kicked in.  Alas, we did well.  It helped that word got out that we had free giveaways for the elementary peeps.  Saturday morning, I woke up with what I’m calling my #sexymathvoice.  Didn’t realize how much I had to project til I was hearing my groggy voice the next morning.  I’ll take it!  It’s all good.

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 I went to other impressive presentations as a participant.

Robert Kaplinsky – Math Modeling Can Make you Filthy Rich.  Robert stressed the importance of real authentic math modeling.  And most of all, how do we make sense of math modeling?   

Megan Franke – Student Participation & Learning: Explaining and Engaging with Others. Megan asked the question of “why do we care about young people explaining their math ideas?”  As teachers, do we allow our students the opportunity to engage and explain?

My big AHA! moment in Megan’s session was —we shouldn’t expect all our kids to participate in the same way  

Jeremiah Reusch – I adore this guy.  He’s been a big supporter of mine with clothesline math and with my 3 act lessons.  He sat in on my session with a big smile on his face.  And to be fair, I sat on a few minutes of his session on Desmos vs. Geogebra – the Smackdown.  This guy is so full of energy and had the entire room in fits of laughter.  Thanks Jeremiah.

Dan Meyers – talked about #mathematicalsurprises.  He discussion led to how we create order from expected order….and also how we create order from expected chaos.  

A magnificent experience.  I love going to conferences because they always leave you full up hope, excitement, and new ideas to help our students.  

Onto the next conference in Seattle (NCTM regionals).  

Until next time,

Kristen

 

 

Ten Percent Increase – Pt.2

During the last blog post, I described the circumstances at the beginning of the year (September 2017).  Teachers were fired up about comments made by our superintendent.   As a matter of fact, there were teachers who attended and spoke at a board meeting.  Let’s just say the board wasn’t thrilled by our superintendent’s words.  

And this brings us back to my school.  My principal called me into her office one afternoon and we had a long chat.  She wanted to make the after school intervention strictly about math. (We already do 4-5 hours of reading intervention each week within the school day).  She wanted to overhaul what was happening.  She wanted the after school program to have direction/purpose.  (I don’t know what the program was like in years prior).  She asked me what I could do for the school.  Um…..where/when do I begin?!?!  Off the top of my head, I bounced some ideas to her.  She liked what she had heard.  I got to work on the preparations.

She was looking for consistency across all grade levels.  She was looking for routines beyond the textbook.  My K-5 colleagues had been dealing with Envision Math for years, so they needed something fresh.  Biggest obstacle of all, we needed to make math engaging and worth a child’s time to come after school for 3 extra hours a week.

Here are questions that I grappled with before I started planning.  How do I hook students into an engaging hour of math afterschool for 3 hours a week?    How can they become active leaners rather than it becoming a study hall/homework help?  Most importantly, how do I convince my colleagues that my program is worth their time and energy?  How do I get everyone on the same page?

And for the next 6 weeks, I was teaching 6th grade and designing a full math intervention (from the ground up).

  • First I built a schedule and it looked like this…..

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Take notice that this was a schedule built on everything I learned in the past 4 years in conferences and via Twitter.  My principal was giving me the chance to train our teachers on all that I had learned (well….maybe not ALL…but certainly a lot).    

Here’s the breakdown of each component.

Number Talks – consisted of a bunch of pictures from my files and other websites.   Each teacher was given a a file of over 200 pictures that included “Which One Doesn’t Belong”, dot images, and powerpoint of any number talk images.  Some pictures were found on ntimages.weebly.com while others were pictures I have collected over the years.  All teachers had to do was find a picture they liked, show the image, and have a conversation.

Fluency Games – rather than practicing our fast facts with worksheets, students would engage in games/activities in which they practiced their facts.  I gathered all kinds of games from Pinterest or TPT (Only the free ones that looked worth while).  

Front Row/Freckle – this is a free website for students to get more experience with problem solving.  It’s engaging (unlike some others I’ve seen).  Students gain coins as they  conquer different topics.  They love it!  

Numberless Word Problems  Brian Bushart introduced math educators to numberless word problems.  Taking the numbers out of a word problem and then “layering” information helps students focus on the context of a problem versus becoming “number pluckers.”   

Performance Tasks  –  In the Envision text my teachers were using, the performance tasks were really weak.  Performance tasks can be effective for students to apply what the skills they have learned.  With a discerning eye, I gathered performance tasks for 7 grade levels (kinder – 6th) for them to practice with the students.  

I wish I had a picture of all the binders of information that was given to the teachers.  7 grade levels worth of all these magnificent routines.  Each binder was at least 1 1/2 inches thick.  Each teacher had number talk pictures downloaded onto their desktops ready to go.  They were thrilled.  Maybe I went overboard with providing  them with each and every single piece of this puzzle, but I didn’t want any excuse as to them NOT doing the program.  The only thing they had to do was figure out which performance tasks or game to use.  No research needed.  And NO EXCUSES.

It was a labor of love to put the program together.  However I would be remiss if I said it was all me.   It wasn’t all me.  I can put together an A+ program, but it achieving a 10% increase was a team effort.  There was buy in from every teacher at my school (including the Transitional Kinder team!)  There was support and leadership from our principal.  It was a school wide effort to help the students.  

  • We were the only school in our entire district to pull a double digit increase in mathematics.
  • 6th grade nearly doubled their scores!  
  • Every grade level increased!

I need to get packing for Palm Springs (CMC – South).  Excited to do not one, but 2 sessions on Clothesline.  Stop by and say hello.  

Until next time,

Kristen

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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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)