Friday, October 30, 2015

Proficiency and Fluency Part 1

Task: Addition & Subtraction Game 
  1. You are designing a game for your first grade students to play to give them some practice on: CCSS.Math.Content.1.OA.6 - Add and subtract within 20, demonstrating fluency for addition and subtraction within 10.
  2. In order to design this game you want students to generate 2 numbers - either by pulling number cards or rolling dice
Addition/Subtraction War: 
      In this game, you and your partner will get a deck of cards. You are to divide the cards between the two of you. Each of you should have the same number of cards. To play the game, each person will turn over two cards. You will then add your two cards together to get a sum, or subtract your two cards to get a difference. The partner with the highest sum, or lowest difference, gets to take all four cards. Next, you will repeat. Turn over two cards add/subtract your cards and the person with the largest sum or smallest difference will take all the cards. Continue doing this until one person has all the cards. Divide up the cards and play again. 

Part 2:
Design a game that would develop fluency for multiplication or division. If you modify one that you have seen somewhere that is fine. Just let us know where it came from.
This same time of game can be used for multiplication. Instead of adding or subtracting the cards, students can multiply the cards and the student with the greatest product would take all the cards. 
To differentiate for students of all levels, a multi sided dice could be used. Students who are working on basic facts can use regular 6 sided dice, while students who are ready can use 9 sided dice. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Skeleton Tower

  1. Note the figure below. It is made of cubes that form stair steps. The center of the tower is 6 cubes high. On all four sides of the top tower are stair steps that extend from the center.
  2. How many cubes are needed to build a tower like this, but that is 3 cubes high? -- 3 + 8 + 4 = 15
  3. How many cubes are needed to build a tower like this, but that is 4 cubes high? -- 4 + 12 + 8 + 4 = 28
  4. How many cubes are needed to build a tower like this, but that is 5 cubes high? - 5 + 16 + 12 + 8 + 4 = 45
  5. How would you calculate the number of cubes needed for a tower N cubes high?
  6. How do the answers in parts 1-5 help you?

I struggled to find the equation for "n" layers. Using the work to find the the other answers did not help me much. I tried to see a pattern and found that you are adding four to each layer starting from the top but was not able to come up with an equation that worked to show that for "n" levels. It has been quite a while since algebra class! I pulled from way back and used all the strategies I could remember, but still couldn't make an equation happen :( 

Curriculum Evaulation

My county does not have a set math textbook or resource that we all use. In fact, in the four years that I have been teaching, I have never seen a math textbook or teachers guide. For one of my masters classes I was asked to evaluate a textbook that I had access to. Since I do not have a textbook that I use daily, I chose to closely examine the "EngageNY" resource that my teammate and I use for our math block. 

This resource does a great job of linking all the lessons together. Students are not jumping around from one concept to another, but flowing smoothly. However, the lessons do not provide much for differentiated instruction across various development levels. Students are all doing the same tasks as a whole group. (This is one reason I chose to teach my whole group lessons in my small groups, I can now provide the extra scaffolding or advanced questioning that my students need.) Students do have an opportunity to practice independently and then talk with the class about how they solved their problems or the strategies they used. This part does lend itself to great discussions. 

This curriculum follows a very modern style of teaching. Students are using number bonds and relating facts, they are encouraged to draw pictures or use manipulatives. The lessons do not follow the same format in which I was taught. Students are encouraged to think for themselves and help the teacher move the lesson. This resource does not have the teacher up talking for 30 straight minutes, but instead has the students talking with a partner and answering questions to help themselves gain knowledge. 

My ideal math curriculum would give students a variety of examples, as as experiences. Students should have the opportunity to chose the method they would like to solve a problem instead of having to do it a certain way. The ideal curriculum would introduce multiple strategies, but not force a student into using one particular strategy. Just like in reading we do not always make predictions, or chunk words. We know many strategies to help us read but we must decide which one works best in a given situation. The same applies for math, students need all the tools, but must decide which one is the most useful for a given problem. The ideal curriculum would also have students up moving around. Students would not simply be sitting on the carpet or at their seats working problem after problem. They need to be working with partners or group members on a common task. This could be real world application problem or even a simple word problem. Having students working together allows for discussion and brain storming. Another aspect of an ideal curriculum would be differentiation, suggestions for tasks for students who are struggling, as well as for students who are above level. This does not mean that the teacher must do those tasks, but examples to help the teacher design his/her own task to meet the needs of all students. The final thing I would put into the ideal curriculum is writing after each unit or every few lessons. There is a big push for writing across curriculum's, not only in reading. Students being able to put their thoughts and ideas about math down in writing is just as important as them being able to express their ideas in any other curriculum. This type of curriculum is most suitable for mathematics teaching and learning because it can scaffold student learning while also encouraging students to use critical thinking skills. Teamwork also allows students to develop those communication skills that are necessary outside of the classroom. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Tuesday Ramblings

I have just finished reviewing my plans and materials for my observation tomorrow. In my county, teachers in years 1-4 have 3 observations a year, one announced and two that are a surprise. I'm feeling pretty good this year and told my principal she could come whenever she wanted... not knowing she would choose two days later. Although I was able to pick the date, she decided she wanted to see a whole group math lesson and at least one guided reading lesson. Moving down from third grade, I feel pretty great about my whole group lessons.. but some days I struggle with guided reading and what these little babies need. 

I've spent most of the night cutting and preparing centers from Cara Carroll and I can't wait to see how engaged my students are. 

Another thing I have been concentrating on a lot lately is my whole group math time. My team decided to use the EngageNY math lessons for our whole group math time (our county doesn't have a set math book). This is going quite well but I am having to eliminate bits and pieces due to time constraints. I have strongly considered only doing a 5-7 minute whole group math talk and then breaking into small groups to teach the meat of the lesson.

 Does anyone else do this?!? 

I feel like I can really see which of my students are getting it and which are still struggling! The other great thing about math groups is my assistant also pulls groups during this time. He always sees the one group that I do not see, plus two others. I want to think that my students are benefiting from this smaller instruction, but I don't want them to be shafted from their whole group time either. 

Incorporating math talks has been a rocky start, but my students are picking up on it quickly. For those of you who have seen or who use the EngageNY program, I'm using problems similar to those in the "application" section as our number talk. These are usually a review from previous lessons and allow my students to think deeper about the problem. 

What do you think? Suggestions about whole group/small group? 
Anybody else use EngageNY?? Thoughts? Advice? 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

October Currently

I'm linking up with Farley for the October currently. I'm a  few days late, but late is better than never .. right? 

I am addicted to cooking shows! Right now I'm listening/watching to Southern At Heart! In about an hour.. it'll be the UGA game, Go Dawgs!! **I never watched college football until I started dating my husband. He is a hardcore UGA fan and pulled me in :) **

Loving: I love cuddling up on the couch with the hubby, or in this case, the pups. It's rainy and gross here so it's a perfect day for it! 

Thinking: I sure could use a nap right now. The rain beating on the roof, being curled up in the blanket, and the dog in my lap makes me so sleepy. 

Wanting: As much as I enjoy cuddling up on the couch on these rainy days, it's been raining for a week here in NC and I am in need of some Vitamin D!! 

Needing: The reason I'm not taking a nap.. I need to finish up some Graduate School work and some work for regular school. I'm in the process of redoing my centers for math and reading. I have 1000 ideas running around in my head and need to get them out on paper to see what is going to work best! 

Boo-tiful: I recently started back at the gym and realized how much I really missed it! I love the way I feel when I finish a workout, not to mention how much better I sleep after a good day at the the gym! 

What are you up to ?!?