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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 

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….

99776abfc42cbb241c8d48f6e9137274
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

April Fools Day

Ahhh.  April Fools Day.  It’s one of my favorite days of the year.  Yes, it’s a day that I have grown older by 365 days.  Yes, it’s a day that I notice more grey strands in my curly brunette hair.  And yes, it’s a day that I see a few more wrinkles on my ever aging face.

However, it’s also a day of fun, jokes and shenanigans.  If you know my personality, you would say that April Fools Day is the perfect day for me to be born.  I’m full of energy, always willing to have a laugh, give a smile, and just have fun.  We only have one life to live, so why not make it a positive experience!  But in the spirit of the day I started to recall all the zaniness that I’ve encountered on this majestical day.  And so I have a question….have you ever wondered what’s it’s like to have a birthday of April Fools Day?   Oh…let me begin to tell you.

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One would assume that I would be the one to play tricks and pull shenanigans (can you tell I love that word?) all the time, but in actuality I’m fairly tame.   Sure, the threat of pranking my friends and family is always looming but I know when and where to cross that fine line.  What can I say–some people have better senses of humor than others.  And there’s always the balance of how far to push those boundaries.  In pulling a good prank, you want the victim to have a smile or a laugh.  However some people cross that line of propriety and the results are not favorable.   There’s a lot of pressure on the prankster to get it just right.  

The big question I usually get is…am I usually the one playing the tricks or do people play tricks on me?  And the answer is Yes and Yes.  

Usually on April Fools Day, I love to tell my students all my zany stories of all these tricks.  However, since I don’t have my own classroom of students, I’ll regale you with some of these stories.

 Tricks I’ve played on people…

  1. In college, snuck in and dumped a full bucket of cold water on a roommate while she was taking a hot shower.
  2. In college, I’ve “baby powered” my neighbor’s room (put a folded up newspaper filled with powder under the door, and use a hair dryer to spread the powder)
  3. Short-sheeted several beds (if you don’t know what it is—look here for directions)
  4. One of my colleagues had a jar of marbles on her desk.  For days/weeks, I would take 1-2 marbles out (when she wasn’t around) until one day someone heard her exclaiming “I think I’ve lost my marbles.”
  5. One of my masterpieces happened last year.  This was my friend’s car.  Gotta admit that I was a little nervous dealing with an Audi, but I persevered.  Got in a lot steps that day.  And it only took one roll.  

Price of GladWrap – $3.49       Joy of playing a terrific joke – priceless

Tricks played on me….

  1. When I was a kid, I was told once that my birthday wasn’t really on April 1, but on April 2.
  2. When I was a kid, I was told I was adopted.
  3. For my 16th birthday, just before I was leaving the house for a dinner with my friends, someone called pretending to be the restaurant to tell me that the restaurant was flooded with water and rats (?).

My family and I have tons and tons of other stories to tell (my brothers have pulled doozies).  Let’s just say that I come from a family that knows how to have fun and keep the smiles & laughter going.  Never a dull moment.

Now you know a little bit more about me. And this is why I call my blog “The Mind of an April Fool.”

 

Until next time–keep laughing & keep smiling,

Kristen 

 

 

 

Calif. Math Council Takeaways

Besides the rush of presenting, I attended a whole mess of sessions that left me thinking. Here are some highlights/ideas I was left pondering….(writing this helps me digest what I saw)

Cathy Fosnot – Conferring & Questioning to Spark Deeper Understanding

  • The goal of a conferral is not to fix the math, but support the development of the math.
  • You don’t raise scores with tasks; they raise from developing mathematicians.
  • 3 Goals of a Good Conferral – listen & clarifying, celebrating, and challenging.

Megan Franke From Counting to Problem Solving – Supporting the Development of Understanding from Each Student

  • We never master things, because there’s always more to learn.  
  • Counting collections develop number sense, organization, and struggles (80-120)
  • How can we use what they do know about counting to engage students in problem solving?

The IGNITE talks had a few calls to action…

  • Do something to increase the level of communication
  • Choose one call and measure daily.  Only give feedback if healthy
  • Students ability to visualize math is important.
  • #ObserveMe – open your doors & learning from the best —-> each other!
  • Teach every student as if they’re future mathematicians
  • Love your students

Lucy West – 

  • Does discourse promote learning?
  • How you interact will greatly impact what you will do.

 

During Saturday, I went wondering around and saw a familiar face.  It happened to be Annie Fetter from The Math Forum.  She introduced the math educators to a strategy called “Notice and Wonder.” Upon seeing her, I went up and had a chat with her.  She was such an unassuming, lively educator.  We chatted about her work, my work and had a fine time.  She even agreed to a selfie! Yes…that’s the Notice and Wonder lady (youtube it!)img_8526

CMC 2016 was quite memorable.  This year, I focused my sessions on K-2 sessions.  Next year, I do want to branch out a bit.  My collaborator and I are thinking of presenting again, but it’s too early to decide.  However, I did notice that there’s not as many presentations geared for kindergarten.  Why is that?  And yet…there’s a need.  There are kinder teachers wanting more information.   

Until next time…

Kristen

3 Act Lessons at #SummerMathCamp

#SummerMathCamp 2016 was a busy, insightful week full of notice and wonder about math. Thirty-eight educators chose to spend a week of their summer with us exploring some big ideas in the K-5 standards. We explored number routines and math work stations. We read, reflected, and chatted about the power the SMPs bring to our teaching and students’ learning. We shared the wonder of the #MTBoS; Which One Doesn’t Belong, Estimation 180, Fraction Talks, Number Talk Images, along with our most favorite tasks from our classrooms.

One of the highlights of #SummerMathCamp was introducing our colleagues to the MTBoS’s gem: the 3 Act Lesson.

On Day 1, the campers had the opportunity to experience a 3 act task as a learner. They participated in a 3 Act called “Making It Rain” from The Learning Kaleidoscope. In addition to experiencing the 3 Act, the educators were shown Graham Fletcher’s Cookie Monster. We chatted about what happens each of the three acts. On Day 2, we showed them Jamie Duncan’s version of Cookie Monster, and portions of other 3 Act tasks. Before working in their grade level teams, we revisited the structure of a 3 Act Task and discussed the beauty of taking an everyday occurrence and finding the math in it. The next two afternoons, grade levels took pictures, made videos, and developed the storyline for their 3 Act Tasks (and in some cases a sequel.) On the last day of camp, we held a RED carpet premiere. Ok..it seemed like that in our heads. In reality, it was popcorn and soda for everyone as their work was débuted.

We’d like to share with you a sample of the awesomeness that these math educators created to use with their kids.

Third grade – “Lego Run

Fifth Grade – “Coinstar

NCTM Conference 2016

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) annual conference  can be summed up into an equation.  3 days of math awesomeness = one year of inspiration.   (at least that is my hope).  The experience is empowering, motivational, and humbling.  You meet, you talk, you laugh, you notice and you wonder.  You learn that there is a whole network of people outside of your little bubble of a district.

During my time at the conference, I had my “A Ha” moments that I gleamed from so many fabulous speakers. If you aren’t familiar with anyone of these people…stop and google now!

Graham Fletcher

  •   Foster curiosity in your classroom
  •   If it’s important to a kid, it’s important to us
  •   Embrace your high 5’s in math

Annie Fetter

  •   People can’t understand solutions to problems they don’t have.
  •   Students can’t answer questions they didn’t ask
  •   Many students think that math is something done to you, not something you do
  •   SWBCA – Student will be curious about…

Robert Kaplinsky

Is it better to have power or have influence?

Gail Burrill

  •  Think deeply about simple things
  •  Never say anything a kid can say
  • I know what my students understand when I see them in a place they have never been
  • Let the students do the work
  • Find a voice

Graham Fletcher (during a different session)–Watch him here…

  •             You are a story teller…math is our story
  •             Know your standards –Be a wise consumer
  •                         Standards 1st
  •                         Textbooks 2nd

Brian Bushart – Watch him here….

How can we provide students room to explore, to play, and to find joy in doing math?

The best part of the whole conference was being a part of something larger than myself.  There’s a network called MTBoS – otherwise known as the Math Twitter Blog o’Sphere.  It’s an insightful, welcoming, and sharing community of educators that network with one commonality—we are passionate about teaching math.  And I say we because this week I met so many from this network and I had the cool sensation of being a part of something bigger.  Meeting people that I have chatted with via Twitter (@aprilf4175) was amazing.

And so I heard a bunch of “calls to action” from a bunch of respectable educators.  However,  I have settled on one of my own.  At one point during one of the sessions that math coaches were invited to, I had a moment of clarity.  I realized that as much as I would like to make big changes happen and be a voice in my district, it’s not going to happen.  But “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina.”  As Robert Kaplinsky pointed out, is it power or influence?  I’d rather be influential with the people I work with the most, my teachers.  I can influence them to be empowered, to stretch their practice, to try new things, to play, and to have fun.

And so the work continues. I’m invigorated, motivated, and thrilled with prospect of the future.

 

Until next time…

Kristen

 

A Series of 3 Acts in Kinder

Mrs. Z and I have been hard at work since being back from spring break.  We have been planning 3 act lessons on subtraction and more measurement.

The first 3 act lesson was designed with the concept of subtraction.  We collaborated and designed a lesson on popping balloons. I blew up 10 balloons, made a video with my son popping the balloons, and was all ready.  Seemed like everything should go as planned.  NOT!  Due to technical difficulties, the video didn’t 100 percent run correctly (audio and image were out of sync).  Ugh.  It was really a bummer.

However, there’s always something to learn despite a down fall.  Mrs. Z and I did learn that we need to take the time to plan our delivery of the lesson.  Maybe we were overconfident with all that we’ve accomplished.  We needed to stick with the basic coaching model of planning, delivery, and debrief.

And so that brings us to our lessons for this week.  We first brought back Alex the Alligator.  Mrs. Z wanted to have the students use another unit of measure besides the unifix cubes we had used before.  We used the yellow and red chips as a different type of unit.  (Check it out Remember%20me-alex).  The premise is that Alex couldn’t see behind him and wanted to know how long he was.

After showing the students the hook (Alex with one chip), Mrs. Z took estimates.  What I really liked about this part of her lesson was that Mrs. Z has been talking to the kids about what a reasonable answer is.  Usually her kinders love to give her an estimation of “ONE MILLION!”  Now she’s honing their estimation skills to a more likely answer.  IMG_6520

Act Two/Three of Alex involved having the kids see what too many of the counters looked like.  From there, Mrs. Z’s plan was to have them figure out the correct amount.  She figured that they could figure it out themselves if we left the picture up.

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Here’s where the lesson got dicey and we quickly realized it.  Mrs. Z asked the students if they could draw Alex and the number of counters (like her previous lesson).   Some of the students just started drawing their own alligators and measuring their own drawings.  Some were doing what we had hoped by drawing an alligator and showing us he was 14 counters long.

We also remembered that we gave them 11 x 14 paper last time instead of an 8 x 10. Like I said before…despite any down falls, we always learn something.  That’s what makes any of us want to be better.  We debrief, we learn, we plan something better for next time.

A few days later, we planned for the Cookie Monster.(cookie-thief-smaller-numbers-color-correction-2).  Rather than just doing another subtraction lesson and doing a subtraction sentence, Mrs. Z suggested we try this lesson with number bonds.   (Side note – I love collaborating with Mrs. Z in that we can start planning for a lesson and discuss different strategies, but then come up with something new.)

Act 1 – First Mrs.Z introduces Cookie Monster and shows the video.  The students love the video and we start to do a notice/wonder.  Here were their responses….

  • I think there’s 0 cookies left.
  • The boy ate them (we asked how does he know) –I heard him eating them.
  • They’re all gone (again–how do we know?)
  • The boy was hiding – he left 2 -3 because he was full.
  • The box is long…so it must hold 10.
  • The box was closed so it must have been a full box.

Next we went to the carpet to estimate the number of cookies.  Again, Mrs. Z asks, “What’s a reasonable answer?”

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Some students were still having trouble figuring out an estimation, so Mrs. Z said “show me with your hands what the box looked like”

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Act 2 – we showed the students how many cookies were actually in the box (to start with).

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Then we showed them how many were not eaten.  And promptly, the students started with their number bonds.  It was terrific in that the students were visualizing what 2 numbers combined to make 13.

And as the grand finale, Mrs. Z had them complete a number sentence.  And to prove their answers correct, the kinders started a number line and crossed out 6 “cookies” to show that there were 7 eaten.

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What brought the house down was showing this video of Cookie Monster baking. We must have watched it 2-3 times.  Go and see it here….Cookie Monster and Siri.

After a week of 3 Acts, here are a few thoughts…

  • No matter how well you do plan for a lesson, technology will somehow fail you.  Ugh. Go with the flow and make it work.
  • Planning the delivery of a lesson is important.  By the third go around, we made sure we knew how the conversation was going down.  The 3rd lesson had much more flow to it.  There was a rhythm.
  • Clarity is imperative.  Being specific with our instruction helps.  However, when things don’t go correct, be resourceful and turn it around.
  • A shout out to Mrs. Z because she’s really forward thinking with her students.    Her students know to they must prove their answers (or show the evidence).  For instance, how do we know you have drawn 13 circles?  She has them number each circle.  Perfect for the CCSS.

This week, I’m off to NCTM for a few days.  I’ll catch you all in San Francisco.

Until next time…

Kristen

 

Share your thinking!!!

I love it when my teachers take an idea and run with it.  Not only did a teacher run with it, but added even more to a suggestion.   And that’s what I saw today.

One 4th grade teacher that I’ve been coaching (Mrs. P) had asked me to work with her on number talks.  She had wanted me to demonstrate a few on division and fractions before she tried one herself.  And that’s exactly what happened.  A few weeks back, I did one on division (one that I’d seen on the Teaching Channel) and I did another one on fractions.   I whole heartedly admit that they didn’t go as well as I had wanted, but we live and learn.

This week, we continued our work on number talks especially with fractions.  We went back to the basics.  We watched a video online (Dr. Jo Boaler) and went over the purpose of the talks.  Instead of over-complicating matters, we agreed to simplify the process.   Let’s use number talks to gauge where the students were in regards to their background knowledge of fractions.  Perfect.

We started off with a visual from Which One Doesn’t Belong.IMG_6186

I sat back and listened intently to what the students were saying.  One student says “It’s not about which ones don’t belong, it’s about which ones DO belong.”  Mrs. P asked him, “How so?”  Some of the students noticed that the top two fractions were equal.  Some students noticed that the bottom two were improper fractions.  They also noticed that the bottom two weren’t equal but similar (being improper fractions).  The students loved to agree and disagree with each other as long as they voiced their reasoning.

Mrs. P and I debriefed really quickly at the end of that session.  She had the biggest smile on her face as did I.  It was a success.

But then the awesomeness kept going!

She asked the students to create a thinking map with another WODB on fractions.IMG_6188

She turned the whole idea of numbers talk with WODB into a full class activity.  Each student had to first pick a fraction (that they thought didn’t belong) and then write down their reasoning.  The students were interviewing each other.  There was tallying going on.  There was “writing in math” happening!

This was incredible!

Some examples –

 

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The check marks represent how many agreed with that statement.
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The students even interviewed me.

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Here’s why I think it worked –

  • With number talks, you may not hear from every student.  By doing this, the teacher got to see/read about their knowledge of fractions and get every students’ participation.
  • Teachers have difficulty figuring out how to incorporate writing into math.  This was one example of how to overcome that.
  • Students are using math vocabulary to explain their reasoning.
  • In this class, the students don’t always collaborate well.  This gave them time to work together.

Mrs. P and I have been on this math journey together.  She’s the type of teacher who wants to push her practice and just do better with “mathy” stuff (her words).   I appreciate that we can have real conversations without worry of judgement or pressure.   It’s exciting on my end to see her grow as a teacher.  She’s one of the reasons I love being a coach.

Kristen