Category Archives: Sixth Gr.

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

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 

The next term is…

Usually on Thursday nights, I try to squeeze in an hour of professional development by participating in a #elemmathchat on Twitter.  It’s a terrific hour of discourse between coaches, teachers, and all kinds of math peeps.  

Recently, Mark Chubb (@MarkChubb3) hosted a #elemmathchat and posted this.

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My students know that I love throwing them a “challenge” question every now and again.  I use lots of things that I find on Twitter or just online.  I’m just curious as to what their perspective will be and what their conversations will be.  And they are getting used to me bugging them for a picture of their work so that I can blog about it later.  

Here’s a slide show of some of their answers

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These two students had a pattern similar to what I would think would be the next shapes.

What do you think it should be?  Or do we need more info?

 

After this experience, I’m thinking of re-trying this type of exploration with Visual Patterns.

Until next time,

Kristen

Mills, Bills, and Trill

The first week of school lesson plans usually consist of getting-to-know-you type activities.  In planning, I figured it would be a great time for exploring in math.  I hemmed and hawed about it.  At first I thought I’d do a 3 act lesson.  They are always exciting and engaging, but I couldn’t think or find one that these kids hadn’t seen in 5th grade.  

But then I found this……

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This was a picture I found a long while ago and kept it in my files, never knowing what to do with it.  I saw the math in it, but didn’t have a solid idea.  However, over the summer, inspiration struck and I got to work.  

Have you ever asked your students about millions, billions, or trillions?  Do they truly understand the magnitude of these ginormous numbers?  It was worth a conversations.

Part one of our investigation was showing the above picture and simply asking “what do you notice and what you wonder?”

My students recognized notice/wonder which thrilled me.  Some perked right up when they saw those questions (which made me smile).  I noticed that my students focussed on the picture itself.  Some of my higher thinkers started pondering the saying.  Finally, we got to the question I was looking for….which was how many pictures are in a video.

Here’s the information we were looking for…Screenshot 2017-08-19 21.24.24.png

We decided we needed to figure out how many pictures were in a second, then a minute, and so on.  They determined that one second of video would be worth 2400 words.  And the video would have to be less than 1 minute.  One minute of video would be 1,440,000 words.   Not bad for my 6th graders.  They were getting the hang out this.  

 

Then I asked them how long it would take them to draw a billion circles.  Saw this at a workshop given by Graham Fletcher back in January and I finally found a use for it. The students were thrilled to investigate this for sure.   

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With much enthusiasm, the students were jumping with energy on this one.   One girl raised her hand and asked, “are were really doing a billion?”  I looked at the clock and responded, “we got a few hours left so I don’t see why not.”  Their eyes got bigger.  

First we took guesses.  I felt like I was on the Price is Right.  “I’ll say 7 hours…I’ll say 7 hours and 15 minutes.”  One group kept whispering about the question and concluded that it should take about 1 second per circle.  I loved this observation because I could tell they were not only thinking, but trying to make sense of the problem.   The class concluded that we should just try it for a minute.    Before we got started though, there was more discussion on how big of a circle they should draw.  Wouldn’t that be a factor in how many they could draw in a minute?

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I started the timer and the students worked vigorously on their circles.  The looks on their faces was priceless.  They focussed, they concentrated, they were super-serious about getting this done.

When the timer went off, they counted up their circles.  We took a poll to see how many circles were drawn and the range was between 80 to 120.  For our purposes, we kept using 100.  Next, we figured out how many circles in an hour, a day, and then a year.  Finding out how many circles in a year was a bit of a doozy for them, but they persevered.  I was also happy to report that they knew how to read their place value very well.  Whew!

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We even discussed what would 2 years looked like, and they told me it would only be one hundred  million circles.  “That’s not enough.”

I revealed the answer and they were floored.  I’m not going to reveal the answer in this post because I want to leave a little mystery to the question.  Go ahead…do the math yourselves.  (Answer is in the lesson PDF below).

We weren’t done yet.  For the last piece to this investigation,  I remembered this Twitter pic from Mark Chubb.   And I also saw a ripe opportunity to break out the clothesline.  I asked my students “Where would 1 million go?  Where would 1 billion go?”

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After much debate and moving cards back and forth, this is what they agreed upon.  I was puzzled because they didn’t really know the relationship between billion and trillion.  I let them watch a video I found on Youtube and some referenced that when they were validating their answers.

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However, I wanted to push them further.  I inquired why each of the cards was equally spaced.   Were there an equal amount of numbers between each number?  Some answered yes.  Some were completely puzzled.  Rather than beat the horse to death, I wrote a few new numbers on cards to see if they could show me the relationship.  I wrote 0, 10, 100, 1000.     The conversation got a little more exciting because my students were dealing with numbers they could relate to a bit more.  Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the final clothesline and specifically where they moved the cards.  

Final thoughts…

  • We hear how the US and other countries have trillion dollar debts, but how many people truly know the size of that number.  It’s quite “ginormous” but how does it relate to millions and billions?
  • The students loved that they got to “investigate” something tangible.  They could all draw circles.  It was an easy task that they all handled.  It was hilarious to see them take it so seriously.  
  • The idea of the trillion clothesline was spot on with the investigation, but I saw many blank stares because the students couldn’t really fathom a trillion.  Instead of beating the idea to a pulp, we went with something they were familiar with based on their discussion and reasoning.  
  • This showed their lack of knowledge in how 10 related to 100 and so on. 
  • Considering this was the 2nd day of school, this showed that we will be making math fun, accessible, and worthy of their attention.   Many of my students said this was their favorite thing of the day.  

 

Here’s the lesson if you’d like to try it out for yourself.

 

Until next time,

Kristen

 

 

Welcome to Acosta Academy

Welcome back to a whole new school year!  I’ve spent the whole summer steadily preparing for my new assignment and it’s one that I’m embracing.  

Here is it…the night before my first day at a new school, new routines, new students, new colleagues—actually, they aren’t that new to me.  I’m supposed to be trying to rest up and review my plans for tomorrow and all I can think about is “I have to blog about this!”

To catch you all up….I used to be a middle school math teacher for 16 years.  The last 2 years, I was a elementary math coach.  Now I’m going to conquer teaching 6th grade, but at an elementary school.    I get to be with little kiddos again.  Ok…my kiddos won’t be so little, but I get to experience the joy, the smiles, the high-five moments, and the celebrations that come with learning.   

This transition was tough at first.  In the months following my decision, I had weeks where I was raring to go and then weeks when I was doubting myself.  I kept asking myself if I made the right decision by heading to an elementary school.  My 6th grade buddies at the other elementary schools were cheering me on every step of the way.  And with positive mindset, much support from the other 6th grade teachers, and lots of studying over the summer, I’m ready for my challenge.  This is going to be an awesome year.

In diving into this new experience, my inner elementary teacher started coming out.  I spent a good 2 months planning for decorating my classroom.  One of the kindergarten teachers at my site asked me back in March, “what’s your theme going to be?”  My reaction was “Theme?!?!?  Middle schools teachers never did a theme!?!?!?”  I go home and tell my husband about the conversation and he starts looking up things on Pinterest (he is totally a teacher’s husband!).  Low and behold, he holds up this picture….

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the inspiration for my classroom

My classroom is completely decked out with college stuff for my theme.  I created something from nothing.  All of what I’m about to show you is because of this single picture.    As a matter of fact, I’m calling it Acosta Academy.  I’ve had colleagues come in to see my progress and were completely floored with what I had done.  

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I also had a revelation.  I put more energy into putting together this elementary classroom than I had in all my 18 years of teaching.  I embraced the belief “Go big or go home!”  More is more in elementary.   

And in the little time that I’ve been in the elementary community, I’ve learned so much.  For instance, who knew that you could buy Walmart flat bed sheets for $5.00 and they were big enough for your bulletin boards/walls?  And I’ve discovered the joys of lamination.  It’s such a magical treat.  I can’t get enough.

And I’ve created some goals for myself for this year….

  1. Integrate 3 Acts, Which One Doesn’t Belong, Estimation,  Clotheslines, Open Middle, Numberless Word Problems, number talks and engaging math activities/stations into my math curriculum.  
  2. Learn and implement Google classroom as well as other Google tech with my students (Recently took a Google Cue Launch workshop and will be taking the first test soon)
  3. Conquer my fear of teaching English/Language Arts.  It’s a monster. 
  4. Find creative activities for partnering my kids with kindergarteners.  The kinder teacher and I have a few great math ideas/activities.
  5. Use my time in the classroom to embrace the joy, to foster curiosity, and to give my students the best for their last year at elementary school.

 

On a side note, I’m proud to announce that my kindergarten collaborator and I have been asked to speak at 2 conferences.  One of them will be at Calif. Math Council’s northern conference in Asilomar.  The other is at the Southern California Kindergarten Conference in February in Pasadena.  

I’ve also been asked the speak at my alma mater, Frostburg State University.  Sloop Institute on Leadership & Excellence has asked me to present on “Empowering Others.”  I love the topic choice and have already outlined what I’d present.  Even though the conference isn’t until March, it’s never to early to brainstorm.

There’s more exciting plans coming in the 2018-2019 year, but I’ll wait to report on that when things are more finalized.  

Until next time,

Kristen

 

 

Where did the numbers go?

Back in January (yes, I’m back logged a few months) I did a professional development for 4 – 6th grade teachers.  I was asked about presenting something that could help with the ever-looming testing in the spring.   My purpose was to introduce them to the strategy of Notice & Wonder while showing them what a numberless word problem was.  I emphasized the fact that we have to slow down the problem solving.  The students need to focus on content rather than just grab numbers and add them together (I call them calculator kids). Both strategies (and my presentation) were a HUGE success.   Each teacher not only left with a base knowledge of notice and wonder, they also left with 2-3 numberless word problems to try in their classrooms.  One 5th grade team tried them out the very next day.  

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Teachers got to write their own numberless word problems.

Fast forward a few weeks, when I met with my 4th grade teacher, Mrs. P.   We planned a lesson which would introduce the kiddos to a numberless word problem.  During our planning session, we came up with the idea of putting a bunch of problems together so that the students could review all the previous material.  Little did I know, this one planning session turned into me running between 3 different schools showing all 3rd and 4th grade students numberless word problems.  

Now let’s begin with my favorite —the marble problem.  I did separate marble problems for both 3rd and 4th grades.  And both problems created the most conversation.  

I got the students into a routine by starting off with “notice & wonder” before drawing any concepts or figuring any of the problem out.  I created this template to help the students navigate through the problem.  It also helped that they kept track of their thoughts throughout the process. 

3rd grade  (each number was a separate slide of a powerpoint)

  1. Jeanne has marbles.
  2. Jeanne has marbles.  Some marbles are blue and some marbles are yellow.
  3. Jeanne has marbles.  Some marbles are blue and some marbles are yellow.  The rest of the marbles are green.
  4. Jeanne has 12 marbles. Some of the marbles are blue and some marbles are yellow. The rest of the marbles are green.
  5. Jeanne  has 12 marbles.  3/12 of the marbles are blue and 2/12 of the marbles are yellow.  The rest of the marbles are green.  How many marbles are green?

Was a little apprehensive about doing a problem on fractions with 3rd grade, but they stepped up to the plate and were superb with their problem solving. 

Here are a few pics to see…

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4th grade – each slide was a separate slide of a powerpoint.

  1. Ty has more marbles than his sister, Pam. 

2. Ty has more marbles than his sister, Pam. Pam has many marbles. 

3. Ty has more marbles than his sister, Pam. Pam has many marbles. Louis has marbles.  

4. Ty has 6 times as many marbles than his sister, Pam.  Pam has many marbles. Louis has marbles.

5.  Ty has 6 times as many marbles than his sister, Pam. Pam has 34 marbles. Louis has 202 marbles.  Who has more marbles, Ty or Louis?

By the time we got to number 3 (…..Louis has marbles.) the students were freaking out.  “Who’s Louis?”   “Why does he need marbles?” 

By the time they got to the last layer of information, they were excited to find the answer.  More importantly, they knew what they needed to do.

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Final thoughts….

  • “Layering” the information of a word problem really helps the students focus on the content of the problem.
  • It slows down the problem solving process.
  • Students get to create a mini – movie in their heads before they are slapped with numbers and the question.  
  • The teachers noticed that by the time students got the question, they knew how to solve.  They were also able to draw out and model their thinking. 
  • One big AH-HA was that students don’t know how to properly give an answer.  They need to work on being specific with their thoughts.  For instance, students would tell me 7.  I asked them 7 what—7 flamingos at a dance?  7 cows jumping over the moon?  Students need to be able to write/type out their full complete answers to get credit on the tests.
  • The notice/wonder routine is really inclusive.  Teachers were amazed at how many students were engaged and participating.  Everyone of the students had something to say.  
  • Lastly—Mrs. P did a notice and wonder talk with her students about the whole numberless word problem.  This is what they had to share….IMG_1652

 

Such a worthwhile routine especially before testing where there are MANY word problems.  Here’s hoping that all of it transferred to the test.

Crossing my fingers…

Kristen