Sunday, March 1, 2015

March Currently

I'm linking up with Farley for her March Currently link up.  It's been quite awhile since I've blogged.  Things have been great with me and busy as always.  School is going really well and I just love love love my students this year.  They are so much fun and it's great being in my third year of using Carnegie and my second year of math workshop.  We are in our first year of Standards Based Grading so that is what we spend the majority of our PLC time working on.






Tuesday, January 27, 2015

#5Practices Book Study: Chapter 3 "Investigating the Five Practices in Action"



Today we are blogging about Chapter 3 of the #5practices book study.  For more information read here #5practices Book Study. Each Tuesday morning I will post a chapter summary with discussion questions, reflections, and a link up for you to share your blog post. Please make sure you read and share comments on others' posts.  Don't feel you have to follow the structure as set up when writing your post.  If you prefer to just blog about what you read, do that.  The discussion questions will be prompts for anyone looking for some guidance as to what to blog about. There is no right or wrong way to participate.  Use #5practices on Twitter to also share your blog post.  Any twitter discussion about the reading should include the same hashtag.  If there is interest in a scheduled twitter chat time to discuss the reading, we can decide on that as we go.  If you are not active on twitter now is a great time to start, or you can just link up with your blog posts if you prefer.

This chapter was analyzing an 8th grade lesson where students solved a tiling a patio problem.  The mathematical ideas the teacher wanted her students to understand were:  linear functions grow at a constant rate, there are different but equivalent ways of writing an explicit rule that defines the relationship between two variables, and the rate of change of a linear function can be highlighted in different representational forms.

First off I could not believe they talked about an overhead projector being used.  Do people still use those?  I know I'm getting sidetracked from the point of this post, but back in the day I LOVED my overhead projector, but I've had a SMARTBoard for the past 6 years and it just struck me as so old school to be still using an overhead.  I'm not judging and told you I had much love for my projector, I guess this book has a 2011 copyright so it's plausible.  OK sorry, but I'm just curious how many people still use an overhead.

Alright back on task. The chapter basically walked us through her lesson and interactions with students.  It showed evidence of use of several of the 5 Practices by the teacher.  This chapter did a good job of showing how the 5 Practices work build on each other and work to support the orchestration of a productive discussion.  It really shows how much planning goes into a lesson before (anticipating) and during (monitoring, selecting,sequencing, connecting) the lesson itself. I liked seeing the progression through an actual lesson.

This week I'm not posting any discussion questions, feel free to post your own discussion questions in your blog posts.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

#5Practices Book Study: Chapter 2 "Laying the Groundwork: Setting Goals and Selecting Tasks"



Today we are blogging about Chapter 2 of the #5practices book study.  For more information read here #5practices Book Study. Each Tuesday morning I will post a chapter summary with discussion questions, reflections, and a link up for you to share your blog post. Please make sure you read and share comments on others' posts.  Don't feel you have to follow the structure as set up when writing your post.  If you prefer to just blog about what you read, do that.  The discussion questions will be prompts for anyone looking for some guidance as to what to blog about. There is no right or wrong way to participate.  Use #5practices on Twitter to also share your blog post.  Any twitter discussion about the reading should include the same hashtag.  If there is interest in a scheduled twitter chat time to discuss the reading, we can decide on that as we go.  If you are not active on twitter now is a great time to start, or you can just link up with your blog posts if you prefer.

The title of this chapter really summarizes what it is all about, laying the groundwork by setting goals and selecting tasks.  Selecting the mathematical goals for the lesson is a critical first step when planning and teaching a lesson.  The key is to select a goal that clearly identify what students are to know and understand about mathematics as a result of the lesson.

Several examples were given throughout the chapter of tasks with higher level or lower level demand.  This chapter emphasizes the importance of setting your mathematical goal prior to a lesson and selecting appropriate tasks.  It is important to do this prior to implementing the five practices.

Discussion Questions (my thoughts in blue)

1) How would you describe the relationship between the goal for a lesson and the instructional activities in which students are to engage during the lesson?  I think the goal you set for the lesson will impact the types of instructional activities you choose.  Selecting high level open ended activities will allow students to go beyond learning a concept as simply a set of procedures.

3)  The authors argue that what students learn depends on the nature of the task in which they engage.  Do you agree with this point of view? Why or why not?  I definitely think that the depth of student learning is impacted by the type of tasks they complete as well as whether the tasks are over scaffolded or not.  Sometime we take a high level task and provide too much scaffolding for the students and essentially break the problem down to a step by step level that shuts down the possibility of students discovering on their own a viable method to solve the problem.  

4)  What do you see as the cost and benefits of using high-level (i.e., cognitively challenging tasks) as the basis for instruction?  The benefits are a deeper understanding of the learning goals and also often times seeing connections between the task and other mathematical concepts.  The costs are definitely time, you need to provide students adequate time to make these discoveries.  Students also need to be taught perseverance and to embrace productive struggle from this type of task.  Many students are only concerned with getting the correct answer and don't appreciated the learning that takes place as they struggle to achieve the task.

Feel free to share this link up in your own blog post.
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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

#5Practices Book Study: Chapter 1 "Introducing the Five Practices"



Today we are blogging about Chapter 1 of the #5practices book study.  For more information read here #5practices Book Study. Each Tuesday morning I will post a chapter summary with discussion questions, reflections, and a link up for you to share your blog post. Please make sure you read and share comments on others' posts.  Don't feel you have to follow the structure as set up when writing your post.  If you prefer to just blog about what you read, do that.  The discussion questions will be prompts for anyone looking for some guidance as to what to blog about. There is no right or wrong way to participate.  Use #5practices on Twitter to also share your blog post.  Any twitter discussion about the reading should include the same hashtag.  If there is interest in a scheduled twitter chat time to discuss the reading, we can decide on that as we go.  If you are not active on twitter now is a great time to start, or you can just link up with your blog posts if you prefer.

The purpose of the five practices is to provide teachers with a structure to control student-centered discussions in order to achieve the mathematical goals set for the lesson.

Chapter 1 Introduces the five practices,
  1. Anticipating likely student responses to challenging mathematical tasks
  2. Monitoring students' actual responses to the tasks (while students work on the tasks in pairs or small groups)
  3. Selecting particular students to present their mathematical work during the whole-class discussion
  4. Sequencing the student responses that will be displayed in a specific order
  5. Connecting different students' responses and connecting the responses to key mathematical ideas
Anticipating: This step is all about working out your problem in as many different ways as you can and with different representations.  Saving student work samples or jotting down misconceptions will help you when you teach the lesson again.  It's important to anticipate how students might interpret and solve a problem, both correctly and incorrectly.

Monitoring: This involves paying close attention to how students go about solving a math problem and what strategies they use. Teachers should do more than just listen and observe they need to be questioning students to help them explain and clarify their thinking.  These questions can be preplanned based on anticipated responses and solutions to the problem. Questioning a student while they work on a task allows them to refine or revise a strategy they are using before sharing ideas during a whole group discussion and gives me feedback on what the students are understanding about or struggling with the problem.

Selecting: The teacher needs to carefully select students to share responses based on the goals of that lesson.  By selecting the responses you want shared with the whole class, you can maintain control of the discussion while encouraging student participation.

Sequencing: By very thoughtfully planning the order in which you have students share their responses you can maximize the chance of achieving your mathematical goals for you class discussion.

Connecting: The teacher should help students draw connections between the different strategies and representations presented during the sharing of solutions. The goal is for the student presentations to develop powerful mathematical ideas by carefully building on one another.

Discussion Questions: (my thoughts in blue)
1) How do you currently plan a lesson?  To what extent do you focus on what you will do versus what students will do and think?  I currently plan a lesson by looking at how I will structure the problems in my workshop format: opener, mini lesson, work time, sharing & reflection.  I make sure I work out all problems and make notes where I think students may have misconceptions.  I definitely spend more time thinking about what I am going to do during the workshop rather than what students will think and do.

2) Anticipating is an activity that is likely to increase the amount of time spent planning a lesson.  What would you expect to be the payoff for this investment of time?  The payoff for spending planning time on anticipating student responses is you would be prepared for multiple representations and solution strategies.  By anticipating student errors you can make sure to emphasize possible misconceptions and discuss those with students.  When we spend time in team planning discussing different strategies for solving a particular problem I am often introduced to methods I may not have considered myself.

3)  Why is connecting important?  What is the teacher's role in helping students make connections? Connecting is important so students can see that there are other ways to solve problems and multiple ways to represent solutions.  It is important to show them that some strategies are more effective than others.  By observing the solutions of others students are able to check the accuracy of their own solutions.  This can create rich discourse as students use mathematical practice standard #3 to  construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.

Thanks for reading and joining in the book study.  I look forward to hearing your thoughts on Chapter 1.


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Sunday, January 4, 2015

Sunday Scoop (1-4-15)

I'm linking up with Juliet at Teaching Trio for The Sunday Scoop.


Today is my last day of break and it went by way too fast, but I will be happy to see my wonderful 7th graders tomorrow.  My Sunday scoop this week focuses on non-school things.  Can you tell I've been off school for a bit.  The time off has been a perfect mix of fun and productive.  I also had some time to work on some organizing projects at home.

We've had a brief respite from all things sports related and this week things are back into full swing with three boys practicing lacrosse, one starting Driver's Ed, one having baseball practice, and another having basketball practice.  The mom and dad taxi service will be up and running like crazy again.  Between all the craziness I'm hoping to squeeze in some time at the gym.  I slacked off over break for sure.

I've decided it's time to recalibrate and so I'm starting #whole30 tomorrow.  I spent some time today finding recipes and buying groceries.  I'm nowhere near as set to begin as I would prefer, but the holiday break indulgences have caught up with me and I'm ready for a serious food detox.

If you start back to school tomorrow, good luck and have an awesome day.  If you are still on break we can no longer be friends due to my intense jealousy issues.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

#5Practices Book Study Begins January 13th

I'm really excited to be hosting another online book study that will be starting on January 13th.  I delayed the start time a couple weeks so anyone who needs to pick up a copy of the book has time to do that.  We will be reading and discussing 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions by Margaret S. Smith and Mary Kay Stein.


I hate to go all Charlotte Danielson on you all, but that is my reality and my PPG this year is Component 3b:Using Questioning and Discussion Techniques
Elements include:
› Quality of questions/prompts
› Discussion techniques
› Student participation

I'm really hoping this book study will help me improve both questioning and discussion techniques in my math classroom.  It is my goal to enrich my collaborative classroom culture to include student initiated higher order questions and thoughtful student led discussions prompted by rich mathematical tasks.

Each Tuesday morning I will post a chapter summary with discussion questions, reflections, and a link up for you to share your blog post. Please make sure you read and share comments on others' posts.  Don't feel you have to follow the structure as set up when writing your post.  If you prefer to just blog about what you read, do that.  The discussion questions will be prompts for anyone looking for some guidance as to what to blog about. There is no right or wrong way to participate.  Use #5practices on Twitter to also share your blog post.  Any twitter discussion about the reading should include the same hashtag.  If there is interest in a scheduled twitter chat time to discuss the reading, we can decide on that as we go.  If you are not active on twitter now is a great time to start, or you can just link up with your blog posts if you prefer.

Hopefully as the book study continues we will all be able to share stories and examples of how we are improving our discussions in our own classrooms.

Please feel free to leave any questions in the comments section or you can reach me on twitter @luvbcd  I'm looking forward to learning from and sharing with all of you!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Five for Friday- January 2nd

Today is my last school day off for Christmas break.  I go back to school on Monday the 5th. This vacation went WAY too fast.  We worked a half day on December 23rd which we almost never do. It was fun to see my students and we played SKUNK in my classes, but really I would have preferred to day off.  Christmas Eve came way too fast with still working on December 23rd.  This post is a recap of all things Christmas and NYE and is very photo heavy.  I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for this week's Five for Friday.




I always have fun decorating my classroom for the holidays and this year was no exception.  I really enjoyed the days leading up to Christmas break with my students.  We were still in school all day Monday and half day Tuesday, but we made the most of our time together. We have lots of fun together.

Love my stocking.  The other side says "naughty"
I made sure the sign pointed nice toward me and naughty toward the kids. LOL

My homebase students playing a game of telephone for "Fun Friday".  Our motto is "work hard play hard"

They tend to swarm me at the end of the day.

We passed out candy canes to our students on the 23rd.

They were so animated playing SKUNK.

I was overwhelmed by the generosity of my students and their families. Had fun spending lots of gift cards over break.

Sharing a few of my favorite ornaments.  When I was in first grade my teacher hand painted ornaments for everyone in our class.  I still put mine on the tree every year.

This ornament was hand painted by my first grade teacher Miss Wochos.

Vintage.  I believe it's my oldest ornament.

One of my favorite ornaments.  Our first Christmas 1997.



I'm one of those crazy people that actually loves wrapping Christmas presents.  The more ribbons and bows the better!  Last year we hit Target after Christmas and loaded up on wrapping supplies and containers for organization.  What a joy it was to be so organized while wrapping.  I felt like Candy Spelling, minus the entire room devoted to wrapping gifts.

I love how organized I was last year when I packed up my wrapping supplies.

Bows and ribbons everywhere.

Round one of present wrapping.

I've made an observation that the bigger my boys get, the smaller their presents get.  I much prefer wrapping large gifts.

This was round one of presents under the tree.

These were the gifts we opened with our family of five on December 23rd, as our tradition goes.


I got everything I wished for this Christmas and more.  Spending time with my family was the best gift of all, but the jewelry is always a close second!

We gave the boys $40 to buy each of us gifts and this is what they gave me.  They were so proud of their purchase.

Two of my favorite gifts came in little blue boxes.  I got an infinity bracelet and necklace.  Now I have jewelry that matches my favicon!

Cookie trays I assembled at my parents' house on Christmas Eve.

 Santa gift opening Christmas day.

I only took a photo of one of my parents' trees.  These were the gifts for the grandkids.  The adult gifts were under the other tree.

I was very spoiled by my loved ones this Christmas.  Definitely a nice mix of wants and needs.


We spend a quiet evening at home with the boys ringing in the new year.  Some years we go to a party (but only if it's in the neighborhood), but the boys prefer when we are home with them.  Pretty soon they will be off doing their own thing and leaving us behind so I cherish these days we spend together with our family of five.

NYE Prosecco for toasting.  We spend a quiet night at home with the boys and I watched my favorite movie, "The Family Stone"

Looking forward to using my new planner in 2015.
The WI Badgers played in the Outback Bowl on NYD at 11 AM so we invited my parents over to watch the game and have snacks.  We overdid it on the snacks (although I did not take any photos of our big spread) and enjoyed watching the Badgers win.  I think we watched football all day long on New Years Day.

We had lots of snacks for the Badger Outback Bowl.  These are always requested by the boys.

I'm looking forward to everything 2015 has in store for me.  I'm spending this weekend getting myself organized to start off the year with a bang both at home and at school.