Sunday, December 1, 2013

Currently December

I cannot believe it's December 1st.  To say this school year is flying by is the understatement of the year.  I am linking up with Farley for her December Currently.  I cannot believe my last blog post was Currently October.  Where did the rest of October and November go, you may ask.  I have absolutely no idea I tell you, but I sure was busy, both at school and home.

October was filled with the last few fall baseball games, celebrating my middle son's 12th birthday, many, many, manyfootball games, Trick-or-Treat, and for the first time EVER since I started teaching no days off in October.  Boo!  My boys had 1.5 days off and I had professional development.  Our October trip to Door County was pushed off a week into November.

November was filled with hunting (my oldest son got a 7 point buck and my middle got a doe so exciting for both of them!), a quick two night getaway to Door County, a very exciting run leading up to a state championship game for our local football team (unfortunately we lost, but what an exciting season it was),  a delicious and relaxing Thanksgiving celebration, NO black Friday shopping for this lady.  I FINALLY had a couple days off.  I tell you we should NEVER start school in August and then not have a day off until Thanksgiving.  It's way too long of a haul for those of us who work with actual children every day.

My cute turkey border for November. It's hard to see, but my classroom has the most amazing view.

Thanksgiving is still my favorite holiday.

This school year is going so fast and I am absolutely loving my kids this year.  They are so much fun and overall have a great work ethic and are wonderful collaborators. I honestly love my job so much this year, despite how unbelievably stressful teaching has become.  I'm sure you fellow teachers know what I mean!

I absolutely cannot believe that it is December 1st.  We have three full weeks of school off and then TWO WEEKS off for Christmas break.  It has been many years since we had a break this long and I am really looking forward to it.  I am having a wonderful school year and have so many things to blog about, but my free time lately has been spent on so many things, but obviously not blogging. I still can be found of twitter  @luvbcd fairly regularly so if you have a question about anything you read on the blog, the best way to get a response is through twitter.  I have not given up this blog, I just took an unplanned break to focus on school and my busy life with three active boys.  I hope you all are well and enjoying the holiday season.  Hopefully 2014 will be the year of the blog for me.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Currently October

I can't believe I have not blogged since my post on the First Day of School.  Fall has become a very busy time for our family with the start of school, three boys playing football, two playing fall baseball, and a birthday Sept 9th and Oct 9th. We have also dealt with two sinus infections, an ear infection, and two well check-ups.  Lots of Dr visits lately!

My school year is off to the best start I could have hoped for.  I LOVE my students this year.  They are great kids who have adapted so well to our workshop model in math. They impress and make me love my job every single day. We have a new 7th grade math teacher who happens to be one of my best friends so teaching together is awesome and fun and her contributions have significantly lowered my work load this year.  We plan together constantly including the weekends, but planning with her is like planning with myself except I don't have to do all the work.  Does that make sense?  We are so in sync with our ideas and planning.

Every weekend I plan on blogging and then we spend most of Saturday at football games (last weekend we had three) or I am tired and need a little nap and then every Sunday has been fall baseball.  I am thrilled that fall BB is finally over and our Sundays are once again free.  Holla!  I love watching FB and have alternated between wearing my winter coat and then shorts and a tank top in the same week!  We call that fall in WI.  The weather has been gorgeous lately and fall is my favorite season so it has been heavenly enjoying the start of the season.

I am sharing my Halloween Pinterest board as a treat.  There are lots of cool/fun/yummy things pinned on that board so check it out if you want some inspiration.

Time to go get ready for school.  I completely missed Sept currently so hopefully this post will get me back on track with my blogging.  One can hope.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

First Day of School

Click here to see my First Day of School 2014

I put up the same locker signs as I have in the past letting the students know I would be providing them breakfast for the first day (I informed them and their parents of this on Back To School Night). This group grazed on the donuts and muffins throughout our two hour orientation period.
Adorable napkins from Target dollar spot
Just to give you a little background on how we run our first day in 7th grade, we follow our bell schedule, but keep them the first two hours for orientation (normally 1st and 2nd period).  Encore hours are 3, 4, and 7 and we keep them the same so those teachers don't get cheated out of time the 1st day.  During our normal core hours of 5 and 6 we split them in half so we can do a 30 min class with each of our four core classes (normally hours 1, 2, 5, and 6).  Then we finish the day with a 20 min Homebase period which is like a study resource period.

My orientation time went great.  I have an awesome group of 1st hour accelerated math students.  We had lots of information to get through and they did a great job staying focused.  I had the students highlight their class schedules because we follow an A/B schedule for some encore classes.  They highlighted all A day classes one color and all B day classes a different color.  The hours where the colors mixed were the classes they have every day.  I then encouraged them to highlight their various classrooms on the map located on the back of their schedule.  I told them to write in the class hour and A, B, or E if they have a class everyday.  I never realized how confusing an A/B day schedule can be for 7th graders until my own son came through the middle school and I saw first hand how much these brand new 7th graders had to remember.  The layout of our school also confuses most people so imagine how it is for a a new 7th grader already feeling overwhelmed.

This year I decided to follow the same First Day Plan as I did last year because it went so well and I really loved the feedback I got from my students and I did not bore them to death with policies and procedures. This is what I did during my 30 min math classes.  We were short on time and did not even attempt "either or" that from the linked plans.  Well you know they saying about even the best laid plans...

I can relate was not what I would call a bomb, more like a fizzle, as in something I expected to go so well and was more like meh.  Overall I would say about 60% of the students completely got the concept, jumped right in, and kept the activity flowing.  The other 40% either were not completely clear on the concept or they just could not find ANYTHING to relate to another person about.  I mean who hasn't gone swimming or eaten some type of food for that matter.  It took much longer than it should have/I had planned for.  I think maybe we will revisit the activity again once students know each other a bit better.  It wasn't a total bust, but much bumpier than last year for sure.

Because I can relate took so long I adjusted in the afternoon and started with the Post-It note activity because I really wanted the feedback and I really wanted the students to feel they have a voice from Day 1.  I color coded the post-its I handed out by class hour so when looking at the comments I can easily see visually which hour they are from.

I changed up some of the prompts from last year

  • Our classroom should be ____ everyday
  • Math is important because...
  • Mrs. Nackel can be most helpful by...
  • This will be my best year of math because...

I loved the last prompt which was new this year.  I told my students that we are going to aim for the sky this year or "reach for the stars" Like my big banner says so I wanted them to think for a moment about what they will do different (or the same) to make this their best year of math.  Got some great feedback on that one.  I cannot emphasize enough how much I LOVE reading the reponses to the these and how much I learn about my students.

I have to say I had another awesome first day.  I did let the students sit wherever they wanted and this group is far too chatty for that right now.  Other years it has worked, but we have really big classes this year so we need to start with a teacher made seating chart.  I hope all you teachers out there had a wonderful first day!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Made 4 Math Monday- Homemade Whiteboards

Well I have finally been able to get into my classroom and start setting it up.  I worked there Friday 10-4:30 and today 9:00-7:30.  I did go out to lunch both days and take a break to drop off my oldest at football practice.  I must say that I will not spend as much time as I did today because I was cranky and hungry by the time I got home tonight. I did accomplish quite a few things, but my room really looks like a disaster at the moment. Pictures will be coming soon.

I laminated some tagboard and then put duct tape around the edges for my homemade whiteboards.  The first picture shows what it looked like when I wrote on it.  The second picture shows what it looked like after I cleaned it. Putting the duct tape on was not easy and if you look closely you would see that I did not do a very good job.  I do not think I am cut out for using duct tape after this little experiment.  I am not sure how well these whiteboards will hold up.  I a cheap generic dry erase marker to test this out so I am not sure if an Expo marker would clean up better.

TA DA!  I will not let the duct tape control me.

After I cleaned it.
I will let you know how these hold up once students start using them.  

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Goals for 2013-2014

I decided that I was not going to make a ton of goals this school year and focus on the three most important things I want to accomplish professionally and personally.

My district mandated that we go to a workshop delivery model in 7th grade math for the coming school year.  I'm completely on board with it because it was something I was trying to figure out how to implement in my classroom three years ago.  At the time there were no resources on how to do this in a middle school classroom.  This past summer I did a  book study on the book Minds on Mathematics by Wendy Ward Hoffer.  Click to the link to see all the wonderful posts linked by other bloggers.  If you are curious about workshop for grades 4-9 that would be the place to start.  I also started a weekly twitter chat #mindsonmath Tues 7-8 PM CST,  where we talk about implementing math workshop into our classrooms.  I am looking forward to chatting once school starts and we are actually workshopping instead of just researching the concept.  Please feel free to chat with us and find out more at Minds on Mathematics Workshop.

The main focus of all our district PD this school year will be to create Standards Based assessments.  I have made that my second goal because it will be a big focus of mine this year. We have been implementing many of the principles of SBG already into our classrooms like retakes and no zeroes.  I think SBG will work really well in math and am looking forward to the direction we are heading.

My third goal will be to continue to grow my PLN.  The people I have "met" through my PLN have made me a much better teacher.  There are so many amazing ideas being shared online and it opens you up to a whole world of collaboration that was never possible before.  I want to continue to participate in twitter chats that help me grow as an educator.  I also want to attend TMC14 next summer.  It would be the ultimate PD for sure.

Personally I need to continue to find balance between my career and my family life.  My oldest son is a freshman and will only be around for four more years before heading off to college. I have always been aware of how fast my boys are growing up and try to cherish the time I have with them (even when they are driving me crazy).  I want to make sure that my boys realize that being a mom is my number one job and teaching is number two.  Unfortunately with everything going on in education today it's really hard to find the balance.  I know my younger two like to find me home when they get off the bus, so I will try to not stay late at school more than twice a week.  I tend to stay late on Fridays to get myself set for the next week and I feel less guilty doing that because I know we have the whole weekend together.

I need to have more patience and tolerance with at home.  I feel that some days I use up all my patience at school.  Some days I go home completely exhausted.  People who don't teach just don't seem to get that.  I need to find ways to recharge myself so I have something left over for my own family.  They are my priority and I need to start living that way.  I also want to have fun with them.

I feel that healthy eating and being active will help with my patience at the end of the day.  Teaching is a very stressful career even when everything is going well.  Being healthy physically will assure that I am happy mentally and not stressed out.

What are your goals for 2013-2014?  Whatever they are I hope you have your best school year ever!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Made 4 Math Monday- Printing on Post-It Notes

I finally have something to share today for Made 4 Math.  Yesterday instead of cleaning my bedroom closet like I should have, I started playing around with trying to figure out how to make a template to be able to print directly onto post-its.  I have seen such cute ideas of printing on post-its, but none really applied to what I would use in my classroom.

After a couple hours of trial and error and several wasted post-its, I achieved success.  I am so excited at the endless possibilities of being able to print on post-its.  I plan on printing out some post-its for formative assessment and math workshop.  I will be sure to post photos of what I do.

This is the template I created in Power Point.  I basically created a 3x3 square using the shape tool (although PP would not let me create a perfect 3x3 but it was close enough.  Make sure you duplicate that slide a few times so you do not have to start over when you mess up your squares (and mess up I did, several times!).  Once you have your page ready to print you must go back and get rid of the lines on the slide you are printing by putting no fill and no line.  This is very important or the lines will show up on your post-it.  Now if you made your square big enough so it won't print on the post-it then you won't have to worry.

Place your post-its on top of your template and then print away.  Do not forget to delete the line and fill from your square you made.

 Below is an example of three different post-its I made.  The one on the left could be if you wanted to collect the "I notice" "I wonder" feedback from your students.  The middle one is what I plan on posting on top of the student info packets at Back to School Night.  It's hard for them to see their names on the schedule they get so hopefully this will help.  Then they can write the name and spelling they prefer (that way anything I make for the first day for them will be with the name they want).  Then I thought it would be fun to introduce "I notice" and "I wonder" that night to students and get some quick feedback that I can use to answer questions during the first day orientation, this will be a perfect intro to a technique we will be using in math class.  I feel that this post-it will give each student a chance to ask about something they are wondering.  The last one is just a Top Six To-Do List of the most important things that need to get done that day.

I am so excited at the possibilities of what I can print on post-its!  I am no printable expert so if I can figure this all out on my own I'm sure you can too!  If you make something be sure to leave a link in the comments.  I would love to check it out.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Minds on Mathematics Workshop Weekly Twitter Chat- Tues 7-8 PM CST.

Minds on Mathematics Book Study

Last Tuesday night we had our first twitter chat discussing what we learned during our summer book study of Wendy Ward Hoffer's Minds on Mathematics Using Math Workshop to Develop Deep Understanding in Grades 4-8

We had a great discussion about our plans for implementing Minds on Math workshop this school year.  It was great to share ideas and links with each other.  I encourage you all to join our Twitter chat on Tues evenings if you can.  We follow #momathchat.  The plan is to keep chatting weekly so we can share our ideas and help each other as we actually start teaching with this workshop model in our classrooms.  If you did not get a chance to participate in our book study this summer,  you are still invited to participate in the chat.  The more the merrier!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Currently August- Where has my summer gone?

I'm linking up with Farley for her August Currently  I'm a few days late so I should be person 5000.  ;)

I cannot believe it is August already.  My summer has once again slipped right through my fingertips.  I cannot believe that I will be heading back to school for preservice days at the end of this month.  Students start school September 3rd this year.  I am enjoying my last bit of summer fun with a long weekend away.  I cannot complain because I have had plenty of fun this summer, including a weekend BB tournament in WI Dells where we had the best time hanging out with a bunch of other families at the Great Wolf Lodge Waterpark.

Listening:  My husband took my three boys fishing so I am chilling in our vacation condo listening to the air conditioner.  We weren't able to stay at the resort we always stay at in  Egg Harbor, Door County because it was already booked for one of the night we needed so we are trying a new resort that's located in Sister Bay.  It has been fun spending more time in Sister Bay because we always just passed through or went out to dinner at certain restaurants.  They have a beautiful marina area with a volleyball court and very nice playground.  After dinner last we walked down to the marina and hung out for a couple hours.  We've seen much more of Sister Bay than ever before.

Loving:  I am loving being up here because Door County is just one of my favorite places in the world. We have been coming up here since before we were married and have so many fond memories of spending time with the boys here.  We have certain restaurants that cannot be missed, but we are also exploring some new options.  Yesterday we tried a new place for lunch that was meh (we keep teasing my husband because he suggested it) and then last night we tried a new place for dinner that was really great.  The resort has an indoor and outdoor pool and tons of other amenities so the boys are loving the options from BB to ping pong, foosball, and many other things.

Thinking:  How blessed we are to be able to create these vacation memories with the boys.  It has been a super busy summer with BB for my two youngest.  The middle is on a select team that played several weekend tournaments.  We even had a LAX tournament a couple weekends ago for the oldest.  I had two days of meetings for math and lesson study training.  This past week I took a grad class on Workshop Model in Math.  Normally this past week would have been our vacation time, but my class met Tues-Thurs.  Greg had the whole week off  and even though he was under the weather he was able to take the boys to Six Flags (which shall forever be Great America in my mind) one of the days I was in class.  I'm so happy we could squeeze in this extra long weekend getaway before my middle starts FB (the night we get back) and the oldest starts the next week.

Wanting:  The continue to enjoy the rest of the summer without completely stressing myself out about getting my classroom set up and planning for the coming school year.  It's easier now that the boys are older because I can leave them home and go in and work on my classroom, but I still want to do fun things with them before the summer ends.  Cooper has been asking to go to the zoo all summer (poor third child hasn't been there in years, we used to have an annual zoo pass when the older two were little) and I need to make sure we get there.  Every summer I want to take the boys to Chicago on the train and every summer comes and goes without us doing it.  This summer is shaping up to be no different.

Needing:  I need to make my August To Do List so I can hit the ground running when we get home from this vacation.  Something about my personality/psyche just cannot seem to function or be productive without making a to do list or thirty.  I don't know what it is about me, but if I make a list I am so much more productive and on task.  I need to prioritize what needs to be done for school/home to get us all ready for back to school.  This includes getting Cooper's bday parties planned.  What on earth was I thinking having a baby Sept 9th?!

Back to School Must Haves:  1) I am a bit obsessed with all school supplies so being a teacher is the perfect profession to feed my addiction.  I am partial to markers for some reason.  My love for Flair Markers can be traced to other teacher bloggers.  I also love Mr.Sketch and just got the 18 ct pack.  I do not like ball point pens and only like to write with Zebra pens.  My writing utensil of choice is a mechanical pencil or Pilot Pents which are actually gel pens.  Ballpoint pens are no bueno for me.  2) I also need a clean and organized teacher area to function.  I feel like it's such a battle keeping my house clean and organized thanks to the four males I live with, but at school I can completely control my teacher area organization and it makes me so happy and calm and content!  3) I must start every day with my Passion Iced Tea Lemonade.  I make it myself with Tazo tea I brew and Simply Lemonade.  I used to drink it at Starbucks, but found it's so much cheaper to make it myself and then I can have it anytime I want.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Minds on Math Book Study-Chapter 10 "Sharing and Reflection"

Minds on Mathematics Book Study

If this is your first time joining our book study please click on the button above and it will link to all previous posts.  Feel free to go back and add a link to any previous chapters.  You can link up your post on Chapter 10 at the bottom of this post.  Please visit the other bloggers who have linked up below and leave them comments.  Lots of great ideas are being posted on other blogs! Also check out previous chapters as links are still being added by other bloggers.

Twitter chat update:  Our first twitter chat for our book study Minds on Mathematics Using Workshop Model to Develop Deep Understanding in Grades 4-8 will be this coming Tues night July 30th at 7:00 PM CST, 8:00 PM EST.  We will use the hashtag #momathchat for our chat.  Please join in and feel free to invite any other math teachers.  Hope many of you are able to join in! If you have never joined a twitter chat please check out the following link explaining How to participate in a Tweet Chat.  Make sure you have a twitter account if you want to join the chat.  If you have any questions feel free to contact me.  I hope many of you who have been participating in our book study are able to join the chat and I would love for anyone curious about workshop model in math to also join in. Anyone is welcome to participate.

I am blogging early this AM because I have a grad class the next three days 8-4 on Math Workshop.  I'm really looking forward to being able to collaborate with my 7th Grade math team as we are all taking the class.  For today's post I will just be posting my thoughts on the chapter.  I did not have time to do a summary as I have been doing.

This chapter is so important because sharing and reflection is really key to making sure the learning "sticks" for students.  Metacognition gives students a chance to focus on what they learned and synthesize their understanding of the concepts.

The purpose of sharing is for students to think about their own ideas and to evaluate their thinking.  It's important for the teacher not to jump in and take away the student's chance of explaining his thinking.  We need to facilitate the students' sharing of ideas.

Reflection is the learner considering his own growth and progress as a mathematician.  The author gives some great reflection prompts on pages 162-163.  This reflection can be oral or written.  This reflection time is so important for the students to solidify their learning and to be able to justify their thinking to others.  This is such an important component to the workshop model and I can see how it is easy to run out of time when you only have a 60 min period (and some of you less) everyday.  I think I will need to have some sort of system in place to make sure we save enough time at the end of class for sharing and reflection.

Thanks to everyone who participated in this book study.  I have enjoyed reading everyone's thoughts and ideas.  Many people have posted new links to previous chapters that I still need to check out and encourage all of you to go back and check for new links so you can gain another perspective.  I hope you all are able to join our #momathchat tonight 7-8 CST.  I would also love for us to do some follow up posts this year as we implement the workshop model into our math classrooms.  I will continue to do blog posts as I develop this model in my classroom.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Minds on Math Book Study-Chapter 9 "Conferring"

Minds on Mathematics Book Study

If this is your first time joining our book study please click on the button above and it will link to all previous posts.  Feel free to go back and add a link to any previous chapters.  You can link up your post on Chapter 9 at the bottom of this post.  Please visit the other bloggers who have linked up below and leave them comments.  Lots of great ideas are being posted on other blogs!

Twitter chat update:  Our first twitter chat for our book study Minds on Mathematics Using Workshop Model to Develop Deep Understanding in Grades 4-8 will be this coming Tues night July 30th at 7:00 PM CST, 8:00 PM EST.  We will use the hashtag #momathchat for our chat.  Please join in and feel free to invite any other math teachers.  Anyone is welcome to participate.  Hope many of you are able to join in! If you have never joined a twitter chat  I will be sure to do a blog post (or link some resources) explaining how it all works.  Make sure you have a twitter account if you want to join the chat.

This chapter really gave me lots to think about as I plan to confer with my students this coming school year.  I did some conferring last year, but I didn't use a systematic approach and I did not do a good job of collecting data on students.  I collected data, but I don't think it was meaningful.

I look forward to implementing the three-step approach as I confer with students.  I like the idea of breaking the session into research, coach, reflect/record.  I need to spend some time thinking about the best record keeping system to use while conferring.  I don't know if it makes sense to go digital or not.  Has anyone used a digital system for conferring?  I would be curious to hear about the pros and cons.  I am visualizing that if I used a paper system I would maybe have a separate clipboard for each class hour.  I'm not sure if I would want a separate sheet for each student or not.  I have my workshop class this coming week Tues-Thurs so I will have some dedicated time to focus on everything we have been reading about in our book study.

I do have to say that last year when I conferred with students the class was great about not interrupting. I would have each student come up to the front table to meet with me.  If someone was at the table the other students knew they were not allowed to interrupt for anything short of an emergency.  The students handled it just fine, but I really only conferred on days they were working on the computer based MATHia program.  Doing it this year during work time on challenging tasks might be a different story.

I think it will be important for me to set up the guidelines and expectations for conferring in our classroom right from the beginning of the school year.  What excites me the most is making a connection with each individual students, especially that small percent that rarely volunteer in class.  I will be able to gain valuable information and data that will help me personalize learning for my students.  I think that is one of the key reasons for implementing a workshop model in my classroom.  I'm getting so excited to see how this all works our classroom this fall.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Minds on Math Book Study-Chapter 8 "Work Time"

Minds on Mathematics Book Study

If this is your first time joining our book study please click on the button above and it will link to all previous posts.  Feel free to go back and add a link to any previous chapters.  You can link up your post on Chapter 8 at the bottom of this post.  Please visit the other bloggers who have linked up below and leave them comments.  Lots of great ideas are being posted on other blogs!

This chapter was full of practical ideas and advice for how to best structure student work time during workshop.  One thing that really spoke to me was being really explicit in letting students know the what, why, and how of a task.  When I have students collaborate in groups I will assign them certain problems.  I always give examples of what I am looking for and we typically solve a similar problem as a whole class before they work in groups.  I like the idea of taking the time to make sure that students really understand what is expected of them while completing the task.

I need to work on structuring myself during this time to be conferring with students and gathering data. I loved the questions posted on page 134 for when students become "stuck".  I need to not jump in and give them the answer, but help guide them to discover it themselves.  I think it would be great to have these questions on a clipboard as I walk around the room during work time.

The section on planning for groups was interesting and something I really struggle with.  I will obsess for way too long trying to figure out the "perfect" group design.  I need to be more flexible in using different methods for creating groups.  Last year my students either worked in partners or table groups.  Table groups would be 4-5 students.  I really need to spend some time reflecting on the size of groups and how often I change them up.  I am curious to know how often people change around their groups.  From a seating chart stand point I usually change groups once a quarter.

When we did MATHia (which is our personalized computer component) I would group students by what unit and section they were on so they were working with other students at the same pace as themselves.  These groups could change daily as the students would progress though the software.  I do have to say that my students loved being in these groups and also that they were always being changed up.  It was easy enough for me to do these groups by running a report and then just highlighting groups to sit together.  Students still worked independently, but had the option of helping each other troubleshoot of they needed it.

I definitely need to spend some time looking through the tasks given in the Carnegie collaborative classroom text and doing some differentiation based on content, product, or process.  I also find it interesting that Ward Hoffer has made mention several times that you need to have additional responsibilities for students to attend to if they complete the assigned math workshop task.  She gives examples of possible tasks:  additional practice, supporting others, reading about math, or practicing basic skills games.  I have previously used learning stations in my classroom with great success.  I plan on incorporating these as some additional tasks for when students finish their workshop tasks.

I am trying to figure out where Ward Hoffer sees working on homework fitting into this workshop model.  You could obviously have students start working on a homework assignment once the work time task is done, but she has not alluded to homework, other than talking about not spending too much of your opening time correcting homework.  I will really need to see where homework figures into this model.  Hopefully some of you will have thoughts to share on this.

Thanks everyone for commenting or linking up below.  This book study have been so great and I have loved reading everyone's comments and blog posts that have been shared.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Minds on Math Book Study-Chapter 7 "Minilessons"

Minds on Mathematics Book Study

If this is your first time joining our book study please click on the button above and it will link to all previous posts.  Feel free to go back and add a link to any previous chapters.  You can link up your post on Chapter 7 at the bottom of this post.  Please visit the other bloggers who have linked up below and leave them comments.  Lots of great ideas are being posted on other blogs!

This chapter did an excellent job of explaining the purpose of the minilesson portion of workshop and then also giving some great ideas of types of minilessons to do with your students.  I love the idea that your focus can vary from day to day when doing your minilesson.  The author gave some great examples of how to incorporate thinking strategies and the mathematical practice standards during this time.

I think that due to the fact that the minilesson is supposed to take ten minutes or less, it's really important to plan carefully what you want to accomplish during that time.  This is a shift from demonstrating procedures and showing students how to solve problems, to having them think like a mathematician as the teacher models reasoning processes and thinking.  We are using the minilesson to launch independent problem solving as students move into work time.

It's important for teachers to debrief with students at the end of the minilesson to help them take ownership of the problem solving process.  This is also a great time to implement some type of formative assessment to check for student understanding.  This formative assessment can help you decide if there are students that will need additional support to get started during work time.  That way you won't have students doing nothing during work time because they still aren't ready to complete the task independently.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Math Workshop Grades 4-8 Twitter Chat

Minds on Mathematics Book Study

I would like to schedule a twitter chat for our book study Minds on Mathematics  Using Workshop to Develop Deep Understanding in Grades 4-8.  If you are visiting for the first time you can click the button above to see all previous posts about our book study.  

Several people have expressed interest in doing a chat because it would be an easier way for everyone to connect and share ideas about the book.  Please continue to link up your blog posts for every chapter so they are there as a resource for anyone wanting to know more about the book.

Just leave a comment below on what days/times work best for you to chat on twitter or if you prefer you can leave me a comment on twitter @luvbcd  Remember that you do not have to be in the book study to participate in the twitter chat.  It would just help your understanding of the discussion, but everyone should feel free to join in.  We'd love to hear from anyone who has already done a workshop model in the math classroom.

We'll try and schedule a chat this coming week and see how things go.  Thanks for all that are participating.  Leave a comment with your preference for chat time/day.

*UPDATE*  Twitter chat for Minds on Math Book Study will be Tues. July 30 7-8PM CST 8-9PM EST.  Please join the chat by following #momathchat

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Minds on Math Book Study-Chapter 6 "Opening"

Minds on Mathematics Book Study

If this is your first time joining our book study please click on the button above and it will link to all previous posts.  Feel free to go back and add a link to any previous chapters.  You can link up your post on Chapter 6 at the bottom of this post.  Please visit the other bloggers who have linked up below and leave them comments.  Lots of great ideas are being posted on other blogs!

I enjoyed Chapter 6 on the Opening.  I have always had a routine of students completing a warm-up while I circulate around the room stamping homework.  I know many times the warm-up might get cut out because of time or what we were doing that day.  I really need to make sure the opening is really setting the stage for what we are doing in class that day.  There are so many possibilities of what can be done those first five minutes.  The most important thing is that we want to get students engaged in and thinking about math.

I loved the table on page 95 where the author gave examples of how you can use the seven thinking strategies when working on a problem or when discussing a concept.  I really need to start implementing these thinking strategies as I continue to put greater emphasis on the Standards for Mathematical Practice in my classroom discussions (and workshop opening).

I think this chapter seems so obvious and common sense about the importance of the opening, but it's so easy for a busy teach to gloss over or skip this part completely.  We really have to establish this integral part of the workshop routine in our classrooms on a daily basis.  By carefully planning out those first few minutes of class we are sending a message to students about what we value, expect, and hope.

Thanks for joining in everyone!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Minds on Math Book Study-Chapter 5 "Discourse"

Minds on Mathematics Book Study

If this is your first time joining our book study please click on the button above and it will link to all previous posts.  Feel free to go back and add a link to any previous chapters.  You can link up your post on Chapter 5 at the bottom of this post.  Please visit the other bloggers who have linked up below and leave them comments.  Lots of great ideas are being posted on other blogs!

This chapter was filled with lots of great examples of how to promote effective discourse in your mathematics classroom.  It is so important to model for our students what we expect them to be doing during discussions.  One of my favorite sections in this chapters was on creating an atmosphere of respect for thinking.  I loved the example where the little girl said, "I disagree with myself".  We need to create a classroom culture where students take risks to share their ideas knowing that others might disagree or ask for clarification.  By inviting peer comments and questions students begin critiquing each others' work and thinking.

We need to be careful as teachers that we don't shut down the opportunity for great discourse by jumping in with an affirming comment, causing the students to stop sharing.  I know I have a habit of doing this and really need to work on keeping the discussion going by doing things like promoting questioning, inviting comparison, checking for agreement, and encouraging divergent thinking.  I like the idea of having sentence stems for students for students to explain their thinking of to respond to the ideas of others.

Taking time to uncover errors is another thing I really need to spend more time focusing on.  Students come to us with many mathematical misconceptions, some of which they hold on to very tightly.  It is worth our time and effort to analyze these errors which will lead to a deeper understanding of the concept.

Moving forward I see many strategies I will employ this year as I transition to math workshop.  I felt my students had very rich discourse this past year, but see so many areas where I can take them to the next level which will promote a much deeper understanding of the math they are learning.

Thanks everyone for joining our discussion on Chapter 5!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Minds on Math Book Study-Chapter 4 "Community"

Minds on Mathematics Book Study

If this is your first time joining our book study please click on the button above and it will link to all previous posts.  Feel free to go back and add a link to any previous chapters.  You can link up your post on Chapter 4 at the bottom of this post.  Please visit the other bloggers who have linked up below and leave them comments.  Lots of great ideas are being posted on other blogs!
I really enjoyed this chapter.  There were so many ideas that I really connected with.  I love the idea and completely agree that a learning community to be authentic is a culture you create in your classroom not a structure.  If we want students to behave like mathematicians then we need to establish a classroom culture where we treat them as such.  This was my big ah hah in this chapter.

This chapter has really given me a lot to think about as I plan to implement the workshop model in my classroom this fall.  I really agree with the author that you need to take some time the first few days of having students to create the culture of your classroom.  

My students worked in collaborative groups last year.  I was impressed with how well things went, but there is definitely lots of room for improvement.  One of the "yeah, buts" in this chapter was about about special needs students.  I saw some very impressive results in my special ed inclusion hours.  Students that would never raise their hands to answer questions would be able to discuss their answers as part of their small groups.  I really felt some students that I would normally never hear from if I taught to the large group, would give feedback in their small groups.  It was something to see.

I want to challenge you all to not underestimate what your students are capable of doing as far as collaboration goes.  I started out with my accelerated class because I knew they would do great and they did.  It took me a whole extra quarter before I finally jumped in with my regular classes (two of which are special ed inclusion hours).  I kept thinking it would not work in those other classes.  What I found was it worked great (maybe not as easily as with the accel, but great nonetheless).

This goes back to a previous chapter where Wendy Ward Hoffer spoke about all students being capable of brilliance.  We need to give them the tools to show us their brilliance and by building a strong sense of community in our classrooms we are doing just that.

Thanks for linking up everyone!  

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Minds on Math Workshop-Chapter 3 "Tasks"

Minds on Mathematics Book Study
If this is your first time joining our book study please click on the button above and it will link to all previous posts.  Feel free to go back and add a link to any previous chapters.  You can link up your post on chapter 3 at the bottom of this post.  Please visit the other bloggers who have linked up below and leave them comments.  Lots of great ideas are being posted!

One thing about this chapter that perplexed me was the opening story about 7th graders rolling two dice to get the product and see if they were odd or even.  I am wondering if that was a typo because it seems more like a 2nd or 3rd grade task.  Did anyone else find that example to be odd for a 7th grade classroom?

This chapter was interesting for me because I feel like we have a very rigorous curriculum with deep and challenging tasks.  I have seen personally that you really have to have multiple entry points when you have a class full of diverse students with different ability levels and background knowledge.  I found these tasks worked so well in my accelerated math class, but were much more of a challenge for students and myself in my regular math classes.  All students do need to have access to these rich tasks so it's a matter of figuring out how give students the tools to be able to understand these challenging tasks.  I am looking forward to future chapters that will address these issues of how to use modeling, classroom discourse, and reflection to help with scaffolding these types of problems.

For those of you that do not have a strong curriculum with challenging tasks there are so many free resources available to you online.  You can check out my CCSS Pinterest board for links to many free common core resources where you will find challenging tasks.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Minds on Math Workshop Chapter 2- "Tools"

Minds on Mathematics Book Study

If this is your first time joining our book study you can click here to see all previous posts related to the book study.   Please remember to put the book study button shown at the right into your post and link your blog post at the bottom of this post so that other people can visit your blog and see your thoughts. If you missed Chapter 1 please feel free to link up your post on that chapter at any time.  The link will remain open.

I did not post any discussion questions for this chapter so feel free to discuss whatever you found interesting from this chapter as well as any wonderings you have.

I am very familiar with the CC Standards for Mathematical Practice.  I do use them purposefully in my classroom and model and share with students when we are using a particular standard in an effort to familiarize them with the standards.  I love the idea of deliberately adding a process standard to my plans when looking at my content learning targets.  I think embedding these tools into my lesson planning will make a stronger and more meaningful connection.

The thinking strategies will help students to construct meaning as they work to read through tasks and solve problems in the mathematics classroom.

I look forward to reading all of your posts.  Thanks for linking up!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Made 4 Math/Monday Made It- Classroom passes

This past year I decided to make some new passes for my classroom.  I had them coordinate with my pink, lime, blue color scheme.  I loved the way they turned out and laminated some extra so when they got all bent and curled from students manhandling them I could just throw them away and had new passes ready to go.

When a student gets called to the Main Office or Guidance Office they just grab the pass out of the bucket on my desk.  We use the Blue House passes during our last period of the day called Home Base.  During this time students are allowed to go to any teacher to get help.  For the encore teachers the students have the fill out a digital pass in advance and they don't even come to my classroom.  I check the digi pass list (on google as everything is at my school).  If students want to get help or need to see one of the other core house teachers (science, social studies, language arts) they just let me know and grab a blue house pass.  

I just realized that I could do a whole blog post on passes because in addition to those shown above we also have laminated library passes, yellow passes that have to be filled out, and student planner passes that the students fill out and teacher just initials.  Sometime this fall I will do a blog post dedicated to explaining our pass policies at the middle school.  

Here are some sneak peeks at a few upcoming projects I have in the works for Monday posts.  I assure you these projects are no further along than the photos I am posting today.  I feel by putting the pictures up it might motivate me to follow through on these projects I have had in the works for months (and some even years).

Please click on the links below the photos to join either of this great Monday link parties!

4th Grade Frolics