Minds On Mathematics Chapters 9 & 10

Morning All!  I feel like I have been so busy lately with family sports activities I haven't had a chance to blog let alone catch up with my BBBs!  I hope everyone is doing well.  I can see from Instagram that you are all making wonderful things for Back to School.!
Today I am linking up with Sherrie at Middle School Math Rules, for Minds on Mathematics.  Again, I should have posted Saturday with Chapter 9, but the whole traveling with the softball team is getting in my blogging way. It was a GREAT tournament BTW.  The team came in third out of 18 pretty competitive groups.

My "24" won an MVP medal  water bottle for a game on Saturday. Woot!

Now we are in the middle of team tryouts.  <ie..stress..nail biting for her mother tryouts>

But really friends, I am posting today about the book!

We are having a TWITTER CHAT about Minds oN Mathematics tonight, July 30th, at 7:00 pm CST or 8:00pm EST hosted by Sherrie who is AWESOME.  You can find us at #momathchat.  PLease join us to share your information.  I am new to twitter, and really still learning too.  You can find me {HERE}

Chapter 9:  CONFERRING
PoD:  How can you get to know your students individually as math learners, and promote their confidence and growth.

The biggest part of this chapter was about making sure that you are LISTENING to the thought processes of the student, and not jumping in to solve problems FOR the student.  It reminded me a lot of a workshop I trained in awhile ago for mentoring called Cognitive Coaching because you are creating questions and comments which allow students to think through their own work.  I used this method a lot with student and new teachers I was mentoring by using Cognitive Coaching techniques on reflection.
I also liked that Hoffer stresses the idea of starting small.  Try for one or 2 students per period and then expand as they become more familiar with the model.  This to me is critical.  We all have big plans about meeting with all of our students.  We should, as good teachers know the pulse of every child.  But I think at the beginning of the school year we try to hit every student and get overwhelmed.  Then practices like conferring get shoved into the filing cabinet because we were not successful at them,  By starting small, and working up to it, I think I will have better success at this.

Finally, I really liked the conferring questions on page 147.  I think to help me get started, I am going to type up and laminate the questions and put them on my clipboard with the paper I am using for data collection.  This will also help remind me not to be a talker.. but a listener in conferences.

PoD:  How can we ensure that students end class understanding their learning?

Hoffer stresses the importance and need for students to reflect on their own learning and share their own thinking at the end of every lesson.
I really enjoyed Hoffer's suggestions of sharing and thinking prompts (pg 162-163).
  I still rolling around how I want to incorporate this reflection piece into my lesson... as in where I want students to DO the reflection.  I use an interactive notebook which has lesson notes, foldables, and vocabulary in it because our math program is digital, and I want them to have something to reference.  I'm toying with having them leave a few lines at the beginning of the page after we put the lesson header with the CCSS to return and reflect when we are finished.  I also have a ticket out the door/post it thing etc. but I want something that students will keep permanently so they can see their vocabulary/math writing  growth throughout the year.

Does anyone do reflections daily on learning?  If so, where do you have students write the information?  Do you use an Interactive Notebook for learning in math?  Is there a section for this?
Please share below and let me know your strategies!

AND!  Don't forget to stop by the twitter chat tonight and chime in about Minds on Mathematics!


Back to School Score!

This morning I escaped, had a little time to stop in at Staples and pick up some of the great 25 cent deals that they have going on.  While perusing the aisles, and waiting for them to load up a bin of sharpie markers, I found these bad boys:
They simply hold paper clips, but I love them because they were only 50 cents and included the bag of paper clips.  I can't pass that good deal up.

I also, saw that Hobby Lobby had their Summer stuff at 80% off.  When I was perusing the aisles, I found this:
PIRATE HATS!!  Hello!  I have seriously been on a Teach Like A Pirate frenzy  since I started reading this book and finally took the plunge and signed up for Twitter. Now I have to convince my teammate to wear the second one I purchased.  Plus, we study the Middle Ages, and we usually create large crest shields during the unit, I thought these might make neat book marks when my lit groups read a Middle Ages theme novel.  I'm thinking they are large enough to have my Smarties create a shield for the character on the front, and do an analysis on the back.

Last, I went into JoAnn Fabrics.  Usually I venture in there when my mom is with me because SHE is one crafty lady, and well... I'm not.  But in their clearance section I found this:

These paper dolls were in the summer clearance too.  You get 15 of them in a package, and they were 70% off.  PLUS JoAnn's has a Teacher Rewards Program, so I saved another 15% on top of that!
Did you know you could sign up for JoAnn's program?
You can click on the picture or {HERE}  to check out all the benefits.. I love getting a discount at no cost to me! Woot!

What have you scored lately for Back to School?  Leave me a comment and let me know!
Also, if you are interested you can find me on Instagram {HERE} and on Twitter {HERE}


A Great Giveaway by a Bloggy Friend

Hey Friends!  AMC at Looking from Third to Fourth's just passed 500 followers on Bloglovin and she is having a fantastic giveaway!  Stop by and visit her and enter to win.  There are a TON of great prizes.  She is so fabulous.. I know you will find a ton of fun on her blog!

My One Year Blog-Aversary is coming up next month, and I'm planning something big too.  Be sure to stay tuned!


Minds on Mathematics Chapters 7 and 8

Phew!  With crazy four day weekends of softball, I have seriously been neglecting the book study that I agreed to participate in with Sherrie over at Middle School Math Rules. <Sorry girl!>

So today I am taking a look at two chapters in the book, that really create the bulk of your time within the classroom framework:  Mini Lessons {Chapter 7} and Work Time {Chapter 8}

Problem of the Day;  How do you set students up for success as independent thinkers and problem solvers?
In this chapter, Hoffer comes back again and again to the idea of using the launch and the mini lesson to model your thinking. And again (and again and again)  I had to go DUH!  You use these strategies ALL the time in your ELA classes, why are you not incorporating them into math!.
Modeling these thinking strategies in the mini-lesson really helps students use the vocabulary and language within the work time context.  Explaining how and why a strategy works makes learners self-sufficient AND makes them think for themselves.  I am not going to be there to take the state assessment, I need my students to have reasoning skills.
A few areas within this chapter that I liked were the idea of using real-life examples, anchor charts, and think alouds.  Our math program {DIGITS} did a pretty good job of incorporating the real world pieces into our program.  They used many word problems, just like the Common Core is expecting, and related them to things my smarties are in to.. video games, ipods, cell phones etc.  I think continuing to draw on things they see will be helpful.  I also like the idea of anchor charts.  I use them all the time in my ELA class, but I'm going to try and incorporate them more into Math.  With my interactive notebook, I think having students place a copy of the anchor chart into their own notebooks will be a helpful addition when we are not using a foldable, since honestly, most of my foldables, ARE the anchor charts I am looking at.  But creating something to tie the pieces together may be helpful for students where I need to differentiate instruction.
Something else that I like was the idea that the mini lesson should be no more than 10 minutes.  WHew!  THAT is fast!  I've read the data on attention spans for new materials, I get it, I really do, but 10 minutes is quick.  It will definitely be an area where I will have to work this year.

Chapter 8:  Work Time
PoD:  How can we facilitate thoughtful and productive work time for math learners?

'Work time is the lifeblood of the workshop'  BAM.. powerful statement.
It allows the time you need for differentiated instruction, and conferences.   I really enjoyed this chapter because it gave me the nudge I needed, again the DUH factor of 'hey Buddy.. you know this stuff.'

I think one thing that happened with me is implementation of the Common Core Standards.  I'm not against them, in fact, I like that they are rigorous, and I do think my students work towards the high standards, but I had to relearn them.  Math topics that were normally in place in 8th grade, I'm now teaching my sixth graders... it was a  daunting task!  A lot of how I taught math fell by the wayside because I was learning new material right along with my smarties.  It's not that I couldn't do the problems, it was finding a way to make an 11 or 12 year old understand the concept.  Plus, with the implementation of a new state assessment AND evaluation system.. mind blown!
I'm glad this chapter had reminders in  it... hello.. I used to teach with differentiation!
It got me thinking more about those tasks of grouping, and not having students complete EVERY Got it question as an entire group, but selecting the questions I believe would be the most valuable to students, and have them work on those tasks.

I am still required to use the math program our district has purchased, and honestly I'm not ready to abandon it completely,  there is good stuff in there! 

One thought that I'm still lingering on is homework.  Although I do not give a ton of problems, I also do not have a text book because our program is digital. That is why I created an Interactive Notebook with my class.  The IMN becomes the text book my students may need to reference. 

So a few questions I'm still working out:
How do you create groups and use the work time available, while allowing students the examples they need to practice the math concept?  How do your interactive notebooks fit into this mix?  I'd love to hear from you if you have any thoughts about this.


Monday Made It and Read Read Read

It's Monday and that means I'm linking up with two wonderful gals:  Fourth Grade Frolics and Kellee at Unleashing Readers for their linky parties.  This is a quick week on both accounts.  We are in FULL on SOFTBALL mode and spending our weekends traveling to tournaments.  Nine games of softball in four days takes a little recovery, and I'm too tired to be super crafty!
This week I made some cute push pins for my bulletin boards.  

I found these wooden school shapes at AC Moore, and simply glued them to the back of a push pin.... real creative, I  know.  One of the bulletin boards in the front of my room stays basically the same all year long.  This is where I will be placing agendas, and work for absent students, and I'll be using it for my math group board and ticket out the door.  The push pins just simply make it more fun.  They were easy to create, and I may make a few more using magnets for the rest of my walls.  Be sure to use a high heat glue gun so they stay on.

I also made a Common Core Checklist for my math standards that will hopefully save me a little time and keep me on track in the classroom.  You can go {HERE} to check them out in my TpT Store, or {HERE} to see the blogpost I wrote.

To Link up with Kellee at Unleasing Readers, I read Gingersnap by Patricia Riley Giff.

Here is the summary from Good Reads:
It's 1944, W.W. II is raging. Jayna's big brother Rob is her only family. When Rob is called to duty on a destroyer, Jayna is left in their small town in upstate New York with their cranky landlady. But right before he leaves, Rob tells Jayna a secret: they may have a grandmother in Brooklyn. Rob found a little blue recipe book with her name and an address for a bakery. When Jayna learns that Rob is missing in action, she's devastated. Along with her turtle Theresa, the recipe book, and an encouraging, ghostly voice as her guide, Jayna sets out for Brooklyn in hopes of finding the family she so desperately needs.

Honestly, This book didn't do much for me.  I was interested because WWII was the setting, and I am teaching that this year.  I was looking for a few books that I could recommend to students while I was teaching this part of history.  I will still mention it to my students, and I may have a few girls who pick it up because it shares recipes that Jayna's cooks as she is waiting for her brother, but overall, I felt the writing was quick and forced.  I didn't really connect with the characters, and as much as Giff was attempting to draw me in to rooting for this family to come together,  I felt there could have been better connections and back stories told.

Stop by and visit these two wonderful ladies to get your craft on AND find a few good books to lose yourself in this week!


Making Life a little Easier with a Common Core Math Checklist

With all of the reading I have been doing about mathematics this summer, I thought it was a good idea to make sure that I had all of my ducks in a row with the Common Core Standards.  Yesterday I spent some time in the air conditioning at my computer creating labels, a checklist, and Common Core Posters for my classroom.  There isn't much fancy about them, but I think they are pretty practical.

First off, I made labels.  These are I CAN statements that I printed on Avery 5195 labels.  You can also print them on a full label sheet and cut them out as you go.  I'm going to put these into my plan book.  I want to do something to keep track of how I am teaching the standards throughout the year.  My plan is to place the label into my plan book when I am introducing the topic.  I have broken some of the standards down into parts because I felt they were distinct enough and needed their "own space."

The second part of the packet is a checklist.  This is what I'm having my students put in their Interactive Math Notebooks.  If I reduce the sheet to 85% it will fit great in their composition notebooks.  Part of being a highly effective teacher according to our APPR Danielson Rubric is having students active in the learning/evaluation process.  Meaning, my students need to become more aware of the learning objectives, and if they are mastering the concepts.  I am going to use the checklist the same way I'm using the labels in my plan book, and have students mark the date the concept is introduced.  I also plan to have them add the statement to the top page in their notebook.   Since they already have a table of contents, I don't need the page number on the checklist, but you could certainly have students add it there instead of the date.

The last part of the pack is Common Core Posters.  I made these in basic black and white to save ink.  To add a splash of color, I printed them on colored cardstock. I am going to put these on my objectives wall along with the vocabulary that goes with the unit we are working on.

If these are of interest to you, you can go {HERE} to my TpT store and pick them up.  Let me know how you plan to use them in your classroom!


Minds on Math, Tournaments, and a Conversation FREEBIE

Whew!  Busy Busy Busy!  I feel like I have had so many crazy things going on lately.  All of them wonderful, but busy and crazy none the less.
Today I'm linking up with Sherrie and Middle School Math Rules for Chapter 6 of our Book Study on Minds on Mathematics by Wendy Ward Hoffer.

Finally Hoffer gets into the actual lesson parts!  Chapter 6 is all about the Opening.  She challenges us right out the gate with the PoD:  How do you start math class?  I think this concept is really important. But honestly, as important as it is to start your class with something that is a engaging and hooks the student, I find that this is the most difficult part of the lesson.  It's not about creating this opening exercise or math message, it's about making sure that the TIME of it doesn't consume your whole lesson!  Sometimes I think creating a launch, or this past year using some of the launches from our math program, were great, BUT they were too long!  Students didn't understand the basics, and I ended up spending 15 minutes explaining and reviewing the concept that was supposed to be the springboard for the new material.  I ended up abandoning the launches shortly into the school year, because I had too much to cover.  I know that deeper understanding and critical thinking are important.  Hoffer has said it over and over even in this  book, but I'm stuck at the whole I have to cover all of the curriculum ledge, and I'm afraid to jump off of it!
I will give Hoffer  credit in this chapter for the idea of scaffolding this opening math message.  She suggests creating problems that show a challenge, by choice.  Suggestions included an open ended set of questions similar to this:
a) What is an exponent?
b) Draw a visual representation of 5 squared
c) Draw a visual representation of 2 to the third power
d) How you find 5 squared minus 2 to the third power?

Of course, these numbers would be written as exponents, but frankly, I haven't figured out how to do that on this blog yet without taking a screen shot.  Bear with me peeps!
I've got an idea about this rolling around in my noggin.  It needs a little more teasing, but I'm thinking about using that scaffolding, and  having students take 3-5 minutes in the beginning of class with those questions, then bringing it back in to the lesson at the end, and have students try to see if there is any information that they can add to the launch at the end of class.  I could have them do this in 2 different colors to have an idea of what they knew, and what knowledge they gained during the class period.  I'm not 100% sold on it yet, but it does have me thinking.

The second thing that I really think is important is STAMINA.

I use the idea of Stamina a lot in my ELA class.  We talk a lot about gaining stamina in reading and writing, but I think it is also important in mathematics.  Especially computation stamina.  Because we are responsible for documenting growth in concepts and application throughout the year using AIMS Web, I'm going to incorporate one of the other components, computation, into practice to help build this stamina back into the basics.

Part two from my post today is just a simple shout out to my darling daughter, "24" who plays competitive travel softball.  She caught 3 of 5 games this weekend, and her team won the championship for the tournament, then turned around and played 3 more games Monday night in the local league.  Eight games of softball in 3 days... catching a total of 5 out of 8.  That my friends is a lot of ball!

Last, I promised you a FREEBIE!  After reading Hoffer's Chapter 5, I liked the reminder about making a positive contribution in conversation not only during math, but in other subjects as well.  I made a Conversation Card for my smarties to put into their Interactive Notebooks. I'm copying it onto cardstock, and having my kids make a pocket in the back for them.

 I am going to have them pull out the cards when we do small group work, just to serve as a reminder of how to start and continue a meaningful conversation, especially at the beginning of year as I model this technique.  

If you are interested in this Conversation Card reminder, go {HERE} and pick up your FREE copy.  Leave me a little feedback love if you do!

How do you launch you math classes?  Are you facing a time limit?  I'm still interested in hearing what other have to say as they work in that situation.  Don't forget you can follow me on Bloglovin, Facebook or Instagram.  Link using the buttons in the sidebar!


Getting my Craft On and Mentor Text Monday!

In the summer time, I love Mondays!  I get a chance to link up with two awesome gals.  Tara over at Fourth Grade Frolics totally keeps me motivated to actually be crafty in the summer time, and Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts keeps me on track with all of my summer reading!  Gotta love these ladies.
Earlier this week I found these awesome bins at Hobby Lobby for like $1.00 each on clearance.  

I couldn't pass up a great deal like that, but they didn't match my black, red, and white theme.  So I had to improvise.  Thank you fellow Instagramers who helped me figure out how to add that awesome blue to my decor!
I brought home my book boxes to redecorate.  I bought these last year with some grant money that I had.  Unfortunately, they didn't offer the grant this year, so I had to upcycle and repurpose the ones I had that weren't destroyed.  Can I tell you how much I love duct tape now!  I chose solid red, or solid blue, and then the mustaches or cherry duct tape accent.  I had some left over so when it came down to the final boxes, they were basically a s'morgesboard of what I had left.

I added the converse tags on the front with velcro.  When I get my ELA list, I'll add the names of my smarties there.  We keep these on a bookshelf in my room and they hold our readers, writer's and wordwork notebooks, as well as our books for Read to Self in Daily 3.  I'm pretty happy with the way they turned out.

This week I also managed to squeeze in a picture book and a short novel for upper elementary.  I was planning on reading Gingersnap but I'm not quite finished yet, so that will have to wait for next week.!
The picture book was titled:  Heart of Fire: Susan B Anthony Votes for President by Ann Malaspina.
Here is the summary from Good Reads:
On November 5, 1872, Susan B. Anthony made history--and broke the law--when she voted in the US presidential election, a privilege that had been reserved for men. She was arrested, tried, and found guilty: "The greatest outrage History every witnessed," she wrote in her journal. It wasn't until 1920 that women were granted the right to vote, but the civil rights victory would not have been possible without Susan B. Anthony's leadership and passion to stand up for what was right.

I'm going to ask my school librarian to add this book to our library list.  It contains easy to read factual information about an important local historical figure, and it is a great book to show diary/timeline entry.

The second book I read was Word After Word After Word by Patricia MacLachlan.
Good Reads:
Every school day feels the same for fourth graders Lucy and Henry and Evie and Russell and May. Then Ms. Mirabel comes to their class—bringing magical words and a whole new way of seeing and understanding.

From beloved author Patricia MacLachlan comes an honest, inspiring story about what is real and what is unreal, and about the ways that writing can change our lives and connect us to our own stories—word after word after word.

This book was FABULOUS!  I loved how it told the story of writing.  I have to find a way to use this with my sixth graders even though the students in the book are fourth graders.
It reinforced for me the idea of using amazing stories as mentor texts  YAY!... I also loved how Ms. Mirabel is what I call a "pantser."  She doesn't make an outline for everything she is writing, and she talks to the students in the book about how this is ok.  I think sometimes we get caught up on making our kids use an outline to get started, and then they don't want to write the same way.  Very powerful book in my opinion.

Take some time this week to visit Tara and Jen and read what others have linked about being crafty in the classroom, and reading.  It is an amazing summer!


Minds on Mathematics Chapter 5

Ok folks.. we are about half way through this book: Minds on Mathematics by Wendy Ward Hoffer... she's got to be pulling out the practical stops pretty soon.  Chapter 5 seems to be the last part of theory that we are reading.  It is called Discourse.  The PoD is:  Why and How can teachers facilitate learners and engage them in purposeful and meaningful CONVERSATIONS about their thinking?

In  a nutshell it talked about engaging learners, promoting understanding through meaningful conversation and supporting academic language development... hello.. again my friend.. COMMON CORE CURRICULUM STANDARDS... hello my friend.. hello....sorry I'm channeling the Neil Diamond that was in the elevator at the mall yesterday... Again I'm coming back to those DUH moments that I've had about how I use so many of these strategies in my language arts portion of the day, and then drop them in math.  Silly me.. I could have made this so much easier on myself.

On page 80 in the book, Hoffer has an example of ways that students can share mathematical thinking.  I believe that they really can accomplish meaningful conversation with a little prompting and modeling at the beginning of the school year.  I'm planning to add a CONVERSATION CARD to the front of my Interactive Math Notebook this year.  It includes sentence starters and prompts to help students have meaningful math conversations in the classroom.  When school begins, I'm going to do a lot of modeling about math conversations using this card.  Then as we are working in groups, I'm going to have students pull out the cards and keep them on the table so they can use the starters as prompts when needed.
Hopefully, with a little practice, there will be an amazing increase in conversation and reflection in my classroom.
I'm happy to share the cards when I get them finished.  I have a little tweaking to do, but I should be able to post a link with them when I talk about Chapter 6: Opening (FINALLY the practical workshop portion) on Tuesday.  Bear with me until then... we have a busy softball tournament this weekend.

Don't forget, if you are interested, you can follow me on Instagram, Bloglovin, and Facebook!

Favorite Pins for a Friday: July 12th

  I love The First Grade Parade and this fun linky party!  How fun to see what everyone is pinning!  I could waste my whole day on Pinterest and still miss so many good ideas!
  Here are a few of my favorites: Click on any of the picture to go to the original source.
This is just a ticket out the door.. with a spin.  The actual post is for a literature circles, but I thought the saying was different.  I'm going to make a classroom board and use this as the title.
I love the idea of "cell phone" partners.  It is a little more modern than that standard clock, and something fun for my middles at the beginning of the school year.
This one is from Ms. Howser.  I like the idea of having a quick overall plan for the week, before I go into the detail of my lesson planning.  I'm going to make copies of the above sheet and insert them into my planbook.
These are called hasselback potatoes, or my grandma used to call them Cowboy potatoes.  So easy and so good.  They are crispy like fries.  My kids love them!
Finally, can I share an OH MY!
This little picture
showed up on the Education pins boards early this week.  Oh My!  It's mine!  I've never seen that happen!  But people must be thinking about Algebra.
and with that.. my last pin which I have used before and just LOVE .. and the pin goes no where btw.

 So much fun!


Minds on Mathematics Chapter 4

Chapter 4 of Minds on Mathematics discusses the idea of Community within the classroom.  Again I'm linking up with Sherrie and Middle School Math Rules for our book discussion.
The Problem of the Day:  How can we cultivate communities of thinkers that catalyze math learning?

I love Hoffer's idea that you must craft a culture of community within your classroom.  I think that many times in a middle school, teachers have so many students to teach that it is difficult to find time to add in this important element.  Luckily for me I teach on a team.  This past year we were a group of 3. This made me responsible for 3 math classes and one ELA block of 80 minutes.  We spent time as a team working with students on making a community.  I also spent a lot of time in my ELA class modeling what I was expecting of groups in my literature circles.  One piece that was missing was that time spent in my math classes.  Group time worked, because one third of each of my classes was made up of ELA kids, and they knew what group work entailed because they had practiced and modeled it with reading and writing.  What I think I need to spend more time on this year is bringing in the entire group.  This will be a  little easier for because I am down to a two man team, and I will be responsible for 2 math classes and a social studies class instead of 3 math.

Hoffer stresses three major points in this chapter in discussing Community:
Intention:  Develop a vision and work toward it.  I liked this idea because it is coming up in another professional development book I am reading called Teach Like A Pirate by Dave Burgess.
Interdependence:  Create opportunities for students to co-create and discuss
Homeostasis:  Find a way to balance socio-emotional forces as they shift in your classroom.

The biggest thing I got from this is MODEL MODEL MODEL the behavior and group work you want to see.  Although that nasty time element is still showing up, I am hoping that if I spend a little extra time in September focusing on the idea of this community, I will see the results applied in multitude throughout the year.  I know I do in ELA, I think it is about time the same is applied to other content areas.  This leads me to think more about Mentor Text as well.  I use this when I can, and do much more of it in ELA, but I'm going to try and incorporate more of it in Math as well.  I think it would be another way to show cross-curricular learning... <Hello Common Core>

What do you do to foster a sense of community within your classroom?  I would love to hear your ideas.  Especially if you switch classes!

The second part of Minds on Mathematics actually focuses on setting up the environment of Math Workshop in the classroom.  I am hoping it is the practical side to this study.

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