Math Bags!!!

My administrator mentioned to me that we had these backpacks and that maybe we could put together some take home bags in math.  So…that’s what I’ve been working on.

I finally got about 45 Take home Math Bags ready to head out the door. I passed out 15 for the holiday weekend to 3rd and 4th graders…wish I had them done in time to send home more!

Most of the finished bags are practice with Multiplication and Division as inverse operations, multiples, grouping and 2-digit addition.   

I went into 3rd and 4th grade classrooms to do a commercial for what was in the bags and played some of the games with kids. They literally all wanted to practice at home! So excited to pass out more when I’m back at school!


Flip and Multiply!

Yesterday morning my son was very sick, which meant I was at home for the day.  That meant cancelling 5 meetings with teachers and planning lessons from home…which got me thinking.

As I researched how to best teach students how to multiply decimals using visual models, I found all of these great videos teachers had created online.  So I decided to just borrow their lessons (they had already taken the time to say exactly what I would say – maybe better) to introduce the concept and use my time to meet with students on what they needed most; which for many might not be a 15-25 mini-lesson that could be presented to them in around 5 minutes.

I decided to rip off the band-aid and asked some teachers if I could FLIP the lessons they asked me to come in for today.  None of us had taken the plunge yet and I truly believe in the idea…so I decided it was time.

A typical day in math class consists of a mini-lesson that is 15-25 minutes long (depending on the concept) and then transitioning into stations for the remainder of the time.  Students work on their adaptive learning program (ALEKS), lesson specific independent practice, fact practice, coding, etc.  The classrooms I was going into had just transitioned from station rotations to Must Do/May Do options so the students were already familiar with pacing their own learning.  I sent an email to teachers basically asking if I could make their students my test subjects for the day…and they graciously agreed!

Flipping the lesson essentially gained me 15-25 minutes to meet with small groups during the time I would normally be teaching a mini-lesson;  15-25 minutes of focused, personalized teaching time.

When I introduced this to students today I was really honest with them.  I said, “we are trying something new. Something I believe in that will allow us to make better use of your time.  We might fail, but we will fail together.  We might have technology problems, but we will work it out.  We will have to be flexible.”  And they were.

I talked to them about how I have to prepare for every lesson.  How I research the best way to teach them what they need to learn, how I use my time and make decisions.  I talked to them about how many videos I watched to find one that really got to what I felt was the most important information presented in the best way and why I decided to use that video instead of creating one.

I explained how I set up their Canvas page to give them a video lesson (which can be repeated if they need to watch a section again to firm up understanding), link to a website to practice what they just learned, a quiz and their independent practice sheet.  I talked to them about meeting with me when they got stuck so we could explore some other strategies and what to do if there were no spots open with me at the table (work on another Must Do item until one opened up).

So we did it!  We successfully flipped math class today in a 4th and 5th grade room teaching concepts of division with arrays and multiplying decimals using models.  We had technology problems.  We were flexible.

As a bi-product of that decision, I had the time to help a 4th grader conquer graphing linear equations today in under 4 minutes.  I consider that a win.

I got to see 5th grade students demonstrate their understanding of the concept in no time flat, then sit next to them as we figured out some new lines of code they had been stuck on.  I consider that a win.

I got to have discussions with teachers about students and brainstorm ideas for how to best use this newly found instructional time.  I consider that a win.

I can’t wait to flip two more classrooms tomorrow!  I plan on continuing to use videos I find online as well as record my own flipped videos so I can multiply the time I spend in 1-on-1 conversations with kids!

Hour of Code (with the fam)

A few weeks ago I introduced our 3-5th graders at Portland Elementary to and we spent an hour in each classroom just coding together! Since that time, students have been using it as a May Do in math class and even coding at home!

Tonight at our STEAM night it was so exciting to see students teach their parents how to code!

 Computer coding is an excellent way to integrate the Mathematics Practice Standards and 21st Century skills such as problem solving and critical thinking!

In our first Hour of Code, students had to create a program to get an Angry bird to one of those Pesky Pigs! We talked about how they would need to “be the bird” and picture the board from the bird’s perspective. It was so interesting to see students turning left and right in their seats to determine which block of code to connect next!

Hour of Code opened up dialog about how to problem solve or “debug” when the code they write doesn’t work. It parallels problem solving in mathematics and other disciplines by having students trace their steps to find the problem and allows them the opportunity to go back and revise their steps.

Coding has allowed our students to see themselves as problem solvers and has ignited a curiosity and sense of accomplishment in many students!

And in the beginning…

I have been meaning to blog for years now and have decided it’s time to stop making excuses and carve it into my day. 

Math is dynamic. Math is important. Math is fun! So let’s take a journey together into elementary school math classrooms and discover how to teach students math in a way that makes students want to learn!

My goal is to spend 5-10 minutes a day blogging about my experiences and lessons, so follow along and join in!