Tag Archives: 3act

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

 

 

Sorting in Kinder (a 3 Act)

My kindergarten collaborator, Stacy and I recently attended a 2 day workshop with Graham Fletcher and it re-ignited our passion for 3 act tasks/lessons.  She’s made it her goal to collaborate with me and create one task per topic.  I happily accept her challenge and told her, “GAME ON!”

The most recent topic in her curriculum was sorting.  This is a skill that we all take for granted.  We sort our trash into various recycling bins.  We sort through mail.  We sort our clothes while folding laundry.   How do we get little ones to understand how things are alike and yet different?

She already uses the “Which One Doesn’t Belong” routine and asks students “how would you sort these?” However, how can we bring this standard (K.MD.3 Classify objects into given categories; count the number of objects in each category and sort the categories by count.) to life in the form of a 3 act task?

Our answer was this….let’s give them a scenario they should be accustomed to.  

Act 1

 

As always we started with a notice and wonder routine.  

Notice –

  • I saw crayons
  • Math Wizard said “clean up”
  • He’s drawing a rainbow and boxes
  • Crayons are everywhere
  • I see markers
  • I heard the Math Wizard
  • She has a son ?!?!
  • He needs to pick up his stuff before school
  • It must be night time because it’s dark

Wonder –

  • Was he cleaning up to go to bed?
  • Was he cleaning up before dinner?
  • Was he cleaning up because he was done?
  • Does he have  a brother or a sister?

Act 2

I was really curious how Mrs Z was going to push their thinking beyond their notice and wonder.  She inquired further.  She showed the Act 2 picture. 

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“What would you do with that stuff?  What if Mrs Z said ‘clean up’? What would you do with it?  Where would you put the stuff?”

The students thought about her questions for a moment and slowly put their hands up.  One student piped up with “I’d put the pencils away”.   And Mrs Z next asked, “How?”

“The markers go together. The pencils go together and the crayons go together.”

“I WOULD ORGANIZE IT!”—>And there it was.  Just the answer we were looking for.  And that is a big word for this student.

And so we discussed how they would sort them.  Some students said by size.  Some students said by color.  One student said he’s organize them between caps and no caps (Markers have caps on them versus no caps.)

Usually at this part of the lesson, the students do some kind of calculations or reason out their answer.  How could they be expected to sort from a picture?   That’s where Mrs. Z comes in with her bag of tricks. Prior to the lesson, she made bags of pencils, colored pencils, and crayons.  Each group would be showing all the different ways to sort their bags.  Oh–let the games begin!

 

Mrs Z and I wandered around the room eager to see what the groups would do.  She informed me that they don’t work in groups too often, so she was curious of how this would go down.  

Here’s one group’s explanation.

Here’s another groups explanation.

 

At one point, we noticed that a group put all their pencils together.  We asked them how they could further sort this group.

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Just when I thought we were pretty much done, Mrs Z runs around a throws unifix cubes on to their tables.  The kiddos didn’t bat an eyelash and just incorporated them into their categories.  Here’s one groups way of organizing.  What do you notice about the picture?

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Act 3

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Final thoughts….

  • Having the students work in cooperative groups for this lesson gave us opportunity to see which roles the students would fall into.  You can see who lead the pack and who followed along. 
  • Student usually come up with more answers than you can anticipate, but we are never disappointed.
  • I love the hands-on exploration part.  We got to see how they were organizing their items.  

Until next time,

Kristen

M&Ms spill in Kinder

Whoa! What a week I had.  I have been scribbling enough notes in my notebook that I had to share what’s been going on.  As a matter of fact, I’m going to be working on MULTIPLE blog posts just from all the amazing things I’ve seen/heard/experienced in the past three days.

For this post, I have to talk about the wonderful things that are going on in my kindergarten classes.  My kinder teachers have been enamored with 3 act lessons…..so much that we are designing our own.  My collaborator extraordinaire/partner-in-crime, Mrs.Z and I got together a few weeks ago to brainstorm ideas.  She said she wanted to focus on having the students compare which numbers were bigger/smaller.  Specifically we looked at K.MD.2 – Directly compare 2 objects with a measurable attribute in common, to see which object has “more of”/”less of” the attribute, and describe the difference.

Here’s the video we came up with.  In the spirit of Graham Fletcher (Graham…if you are reading this, I hope I made you proud!) …I present to you M&M Spill.

Act 1 starts with this video.

Mrs. Z did this lesson last week.  I just re-taught it in another kinder classroom.  Lots of notice and wonder. (compiled from both classes)

Notice

  • they were poured out M&Ms
  • different colors
  • the package –M&Ms pic on front, not on back
  • rainbow colors
  • the M&Ms disappeared — (This was one of my favorite things they noticed!)
  • M&Ms made a mess
  • orange, yellow, blue, brown
  • hand opened package and I saw a lot come out
  • M&Ms were dumped out

Wonder

  • Can we eat them?
  • Can we count them?
  • Are there enough for all of us?
  • How many M&Ms are there?
  • Which color has the most?

In Mrs. Z’s class, there was much discussion on how we could figure out the M&M mystery of which color had the most.  One of the students whispered into Mrs.Z’s that they could compare them by color.  At that moment Mrs. Z shouted “Shut the front door!!” (She gets enthusiastic at such brilliant ideas.)  

For the 2nd Act, we gave the students this clue.  They used unifix cubes to model their answers. The students diligently got to work.  

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Here’s the part of the lesson that is always fascinating to me. I always wonder…. How do the kids think?  How are they processing the information?  How are they going to show their answers?  And that’s when the show (the learning) begins. (And this is when I usually run around and take my photos…there’s always so much to observe!)

And here’s another thing…there were so many different ways that the students modeled their answers, that I couldn’t just pick one!!!  Take a look at how each one is significant.  

And for the grand finale (Act 3), we re-counted all the M&Ms. We had to check to see which color had the most.img_8041

Final thoughts…

  • Kindergarteners and their thoughts always intrigue me. They are inquisitive little people who see alot.  
  • I was amazed to see their conversation just on the words “Notice” and “Wonder.” Those aren’t exactly kindergarten words, but their insight as to what those words mean was incredible. (More on that in a future post.)
  • Love the process of examining one standard and coming up with an idea on how to cover it. (I can thank Mrs. Z for her marvelous mind which amazes me every time.)
  • And I can never ever ever stress the importance of collaboration.  I love bouncing ideas off of people rather than working in solitude.   Power in numbers! (Math pun!)

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

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

 

Kindergarten Rocks!

Today I spent some time in a kindergarten classroom.  Those tiny humans are inquisitive, direct, and full of spunk.  What I love about them is that there’s a whole world of wonder waiting for them and they’re ready to soak it in.

And let me tell you something about the kindergarten teachers.  They are ROCK STARS!  Especially the one I worked with today, Mrs. Z.  We spent sometime last week planning for a lesson.  She had given me a list of topics they were covering and she wanted my help to plan something.  During our planning time, I introduced her to Graham Fletcher’s 3 Act Lesson and Which One Doesn’t Belong.  We also read Joe Schwartz’s blog on the same 3 Act lesson pertaining to Shark Bait.  She was totally thrilled, but wanted to  plan her own 3 Act lesson.  Now it was my turn to be totally thrilled!

Here’s how the lesson went.

As a warm up,  Mrs. Z started the class with Which One Doesn’t Belong….except she did it Kinder Style!  What’s Kinder Style?  Kinders work on sorting by attributes.  So she posed the question “how would you sort these?”

These smart little people came up with 5 different ways to sort these dice.  There categories would be color, size, shapes (Numbers versus dots or circles), corners (big and small), and the number 5.  They were absolutely engrossed.

Next she started the 3 Act lesson that we designed.  Act 1 – She introduced Alex the Alligator (alligator – K). We needed to find out how long Alex was.   She took some guesses (which varied from 8 cubes to a million!) And then the students got to work.IMG_6029

Act 2 – We handed out the clues.  We made sure to keep grouping the colored cubes in 5’s so that they could practice their counting and cardinality.

The students vigorously got to work.  The hunt was on to find the correct number of cubes and the correct color.  As Joe Schwartz noted, it was important to print out colored context clues for those students who couldn’t read yet.

Once the students were finished, we compared cubes on the carpet.  Mrs. Z reviewed their estimations and revealed the answer on the Powerpoint.  She also went over which estimations were the smallest and the largest.

Act  3 Once the estimations were finished, she asked the students to draw their own Alex the Alligator and show how the alligator was 18 cubes long.

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Nathan drew blocks around the number 18.

 

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William drew 18 blocks on the bottom.
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Those are some ferocious teeth.  18 dots represent the cubes.

Final thoughts….

Mrs. Z and I did debrief (my favorite part) at the end of the day.  We both agreed that kinders need a story to go with the 3 act lesson.  They need context to wrap their heads around why they are finding the length, height, etc.    She also wants to create 3 act lessons that have 10 solid colored cubes plus a few more so that she could start addition problems with the kinder.

My favorite part of our debrief (and I’m paraphrasing)–

Mrs. ZI’m so glad you are helping me.  I don’t want to be that teacher that just hands out a worksheet.  I want to be better than that.  I want to keep learning.  

Well put, Mrs. Z.  I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Kristen