Sunday, December 1, 2013

December Currently

Hello, blog world!  Long time no see!  What better way to jump back into the swing of things than by linking up with Farley and a new Currently, so here I go!

Oh' boy fourth grade
It's been awhile...let's see if I still remember how this ol' thang works. 
I'm listening to Sunday Night Football, my dog snoring (this is not a new thing), and an excited 5 year-old talking about Christmas from his bed.  I'm loving my newest teacher-y Christmas d├ęcor that we picked up over the summer while visiting Bronner's Christmas Store in Frankenmuth, MI.
Like many of you, I'm thinking about my ever growing TPT wish list because there is a HUGE Cyber Monday (and Tuesday) sale happening tomorrow!  My store, like many others, will have everything you NEED (ok...want...badly) for up to 28% off when you use the code "Cyber".  Don't miss out!

I'm so excited about my latest product, Santa Math, which I blogged about last year.  Snatch it up on sale tomorrow and Tuesday!

Of course, I'm wanting Winter Break to be here quickly...but not before I finish decorating my tree and putting up the rest of my decorations.  It helps that we only have three short weeks left, and that I will get to partake in my favorite Holiday tradition, which is baking with my Mama!  Most recently, we've up the Pioneer Woman's pumpkin cinnamon rolls, and lemon blueberry rolls, and caramel apple rolls.  But we will bust out with the cookie baking soon enough!
I'm hoping to get back on the blog train again, so check back soon for what we have been up to.  In the mean time, link up and share your own 'Currently'!
Happy Sunday!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Multiplication, Mice, and Math practices

I can hardly believe October is here!  With cooler weather comes one of the concepts that students are most excited to learn about in 3rd grade...multiplication!  I've written before about how important the idea of multiplication is in 3rd grade, and how the progression of concepts eventually leads to the concept of the Distributive Property, but did you know that multiplicative concepts encompass an entire critical area in 3rd grade Common Core?!?!  Let's just think about that for a second and 'word-nerd' it-- According to
1. containing or making severe or negative judgments
2. containing careful or analytical evaluations: a critical dissertation
3. of or involving a critic or criticism
4. of or forming a crisis; crucial; decisive: a critical operation
5. urgently needed: critical medical supplies
6. informal  so seriously injured or ill as to be in danger of dying
7. physics  of, denoting, or concerned with a state in which the properties of a system undergo an abrupt change: a critical temperature
8. go critical  (of a nuclear power station or reactor) to reach a state in which a nuclear-fission chain reaction becomes self-sustaining
Basically, with the help of multiplication, our 3rd graders will reach a state of nuclear-fission!!  But in all seriousness, I think the fifth definition sums it up best, multiplicative concepts in 3rd grade are "urgently needed" so that our students have a foundation so strong enough to support and deepen their understanding of later concepts and grades.

So, obviously, multiplication is important, but how do we, as teachers, build that strong foundation?  For us, we start by thinking about the math ideas necessary to truly understand the concept of multiplication.  Together with my amazing third grade team, we mapped out what we believe to be a logical progression of ideas that would support the bigger idea of multiplication in 3rd grade.  Here is what we came up with: repeated addition, skip counting, equal groups, arrays, area models (area as additive, then multiplicative), and eventually, the concrete proof of the Distributive Property.  In reality, these ideas will be the primary focus of our math instruction, and will take us until about mid-November until we move on to other (related) concepts.

We are currently in our third week of building multiplicative concepts in 3rd grade, and I can definitely say that my students are using a very wide variety of strategies to solve our multiplication math tasks.  Today, we completed a "Mouse Problem" in which students were asked to select a number of mice to "buy" from the pet store.  Each year, their mouse population increases in size (2nd year, population doubles, 3rd year it triples, and so on), and students were asked to figure out how many mice they would have by the 5th year.

Skip Counting in parts
Multiplication with repeated addition

And some of our progress with Math Practice Standards...

This last pic is my fav because it is SO 3rd grade.  This student had a very interesting patterning strategy to find their products, and was extremely ambitious in the original number of mice they started with (501), but check out the "math" vocabulary!  I LOVE "sixdupal" and the others that follow it, and I can definitely appreciate an attempt at attending to precision in our mathematics vocabulary.

Now that October is here, what are you working on in your classroom?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

October Currently!

It's October already?!  Where did September go?  Either way, I'm linking up with Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade for the latest installment of the always interesting 'Currently'.

Oh' boy fourth grade

 I'm listening to Property always.  I love them, and pretty much everything on HGTV.  It's mindless entertainment, and I'm all about it.
I've LOVING my 3rd grade team.  Not only do we get a lot accomplished, but they get me.  Not in a corny, soul-sister, type of way, but more of a no-judgment-when-I'm-hangry kind of way, and a listen-to-my-crazy-math-ideas way, and most importantly, a want-to-do-what's-good-for-kids way.  Obviously, these chicks rock.
I'm currently thinking about Baltimore in 2 weeks, where I will be attending and presenting at NCTM.  It's like Math Christmas, and I love it.
Here in southern NM, we've had a bit of a crazy monsoon season.  With that came mosquitos who are hungry for my blood.  I'm in serious need of cooler weather...or better bug spray.   
Like most teachers, I could use a few more hours in my day.  More time with my students, more time with my family, and more time sleeping.  Can someone do something about that, please?!
And finally, when it comes to Trick-or-Treat, I'll pick treat almost every time.  Especially if it's an Almond Joy.  Or a Reese's.  Or a Snickers.  But NOT those gross orange and black wrapped candy things.  Yuck. 
Happy October!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Mathy Monday- MP Edition

Holy moly!  Has it really been over a month since I've blogged on here?  Apparently, it has, but in my defense...back-to-school is all consuming!  I consider it pure luck that I could even remember my password for this ol' thing.  But now that I'm here, let's make this a Mathy Monday and chat about making the Standards for Mathematical Practice accessible to kids. 

New Mexico is one of 45 states that have adopted the Common Core State Standards, and as a third grade teacher here in the Land of Enchantment, we are in our second year of adoption.  It's actually a really nice place to be- we've had a year to play around and try things out, and now, we have a chance to keep what worked and refine what didn't.  Our approach to introducing the Standards for Mathematical Practice is something that worked, and this is how we do it.

We begin each week by introducing the MP using the language directly from the Common Core.  Often times (much more often than not), this language can be extremely challenging for third graders, but this provides the perfect opportunity to implore reading strategies for encountering unknown words while getting kids to "think about their thinking" in mathematics. 

We start with an anchor chart with only the MP written (see picture below, blue ink).  We dissect the language of the MP using prior knowledge, word association, context clues, and even dictionaries.  As a class, we talk it out and break it down so that we come to a common understanding so that all students know what is expected of them. 

From there, it's time to do the math.  Math tasks are selected intentionally so that students have explicit opportunities to engage in the math practice standard.  For example, for MP 1- Making sense of problems and preserve in solving them, students were given a multi-step math riddle that could be solved in many different ways, but would require perseverance to determine the correct answer. 

As students work, I ask guiding questions that will help facilitate our summary at the end of the lesson.  I craft my questions based on what students understand about the math practice (ex: What strategies are you using to make sense of this problem?  Talk to me about how you are persevering through this tough work...").  By doing this, students have already began to think about how they use the math practice in their own work.       

After students have had a chance to do the math, we come back together to summarize and debrief the math practice standard.  I try and use the same guiding questions I used during the exploration so the language is consistent.  I record student responses in another color (green) on our anchor chart.  Your landing point should be along the same lines as the expanded MP standards in kid-friendly language.  Throughout the week, we constantly refer back to the MP standard, whether I am pointing out ways in which students are using it, students are identifying how other students are using it, or they are reflecting on their own use of the MP standard.  Later, we add sentence stems to promote the use of the direct language when speaking and writing about our math thinking.

While this took time, it was well worth it.  I was amazed to hear 3rd graders talking about "attending to precision" and "choosing appropriate tools strategically".  More importantly, these are the habits of mind we hope to instill in our students, so being able to refer back to them while I am teaching helps build self-efficacy skills that are invaluable.     

So, that's how I do it.  In my second year, I am making small tweaks here and there, but I am seeing similar successes.

How are you tackling the Standards for Mathematical Practice in your classroom?!  I'd love to hear and learn from you!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Five for Friday


I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for a (late) five for Friday! So here are my five random things from this first week back to school!

1. A gecko.  That is what a sweet student lovingly brought to school to show their new teacher.  Said gecko is also what escaped in my classroom and has yet to be found!  Fun stuff!

2. My hubby always goes out of his way to make a big deal out of the first day of school.  This year, I came home to some beautiful flowers and an AWESOME personalized Jam Box Bluetooth speaker for my classroom.  Seriously, that thing and my husband rock!
3.  My babies!  My youngest started kindergarten this week and I didn't only cried a little lot.  My oldest started fourth grade and I didn't only cried a little lot.  They both LOVE their teachers, so I'm one happy Mama (despite my tears).  
4.  Do you know what's fun?!  Running over nails and buying new tires!  You haven't lived until you've bought new tires on a teacher's salary in August...
5.  The Teachers Pay Teachers Back To School Sale starts tomorrow!!  My cart already has $33 worth of materials in it, and I've only just begun.  You can save up to 28% tomorrow and Monday by using the code BTS13.  What's in your cart?!
Happy Weekend!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Classroom Setup Linky Party!!

One of my all-time favorite ways to kill time is to look at other teachers classroom setup, especially during this time of year!  Materials are organized, desks and cubbies are clean, and all those cute supplies purchased over the Summer are on display!  What could be better?!  I've decided to host one final hoorah Linky Party before we all head back to show me those classrooms!
I'll start!  I've posted this pic a few times already, but here is what I was working with:

And here is what I was able to squeak out:

My book quote wall up close...I <3 it!!

Or use the new Add link method ?

(Submissions close in 67d 0h 15m)
Link tool by

Friday, August 2, 2013

August Currently!

August?!  Seriously?!  The same August that signals back-to-school?  The August that means end of summer?  I'm not ready for this!  But I guess I'll put my big girl pants on to link up with Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade for this months' Currently!

Oh' boy fourth grade

Listening:  I feel like this one signifies the fast-track in which I am turning into my Mother.  A ball bouncing in the house now drives me absolutely insane (Hi, Mom!), and I find myself saying the exact same things she told us!  I'm also listening to my youngest crunch his morning cereal, which is a colorful mix of Frosted Mini-Wheats and Lucky Charms.  Yuck.  Finally, the Today Show has taught me how to avoid an awkward hug.  Helpful!
Loving:  Yesterday, after a productive 4 hours, I can say that my classroom is done-enough that I won't have to return until our first report day, which is Tuesday, August 6th.  I feel like this one can best be summed up with pics. 
Thinking:  Today and Tomorrow, I'll be attending MC2 ELL Conference: Achieving in Mathematics for All Students in New Mexico.  There are so many fantastic presenters and topics to choose from, I don't even know where to start! 
Wanting:  Just a few more weeks of Summer!  I say this every year, but the Summer flew by, I just want a little more time.
Needing:  Coffee.  Enough said.  

 B2S Must-Haves:  A new planner to help stay organized, which I already have and LOVE, colorful pens (I <3 Ink Joy and Sharpie Pens), and labels for everything. 
I'm off to get my coffee!  Happy Friday!