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Sunday, October 23, 2011

"New" Math

We adopted a new math curriculum in the primary grades called "Math Expressions." I've used it a little bit to supplement our old curriculum but now we have taken the plunge. The curriculum is very wordy so you always have to be a few days ahead of the game. There are tons of manipulatives, which is great, but also take a lot of work to prep. The main focus is on Math Talk and explaining how you got your answers and it is so rewarding to hear the kids speak like mathematicians.

Here are some things that we've done in class to correspond with our lessons.

These are called "Partner Houses." Last year they were called Fact Families. I use the names together so that the kids can relate the vocabulary they may see on the NWEA MAP testing in the spring. They worked in groups to create the equations and houses. We talked about how every partner lives in an apartment and no one lives with zero. The kids were able to figure out that you can "flip flop" the partners and have a new equation and they also discovered that whichever house they were creating had one less partner than the number (ex. the partner house for 9 has 8 equations, etc). 

This is my math board. It's taped to a plain wall in the corner of our room. Our primary team has had great success with Daily 5 and thought that an acronym of "STARS" would help us create small groups within our math class so we could target students who needed extra help while the other groups are busy working on math activities. STARS stands for:
Skills Practice- games and activities that relate to our unit
Teacher- works with me on the new lesson
Assignment- finishes the workbook page or assignment
Response Journal (or Reflect)- answers the problem of the day in their math journal
Study Facts- various fact practice activities
I chose to have three groups rotating so one group starts with Skills, then comes to Teacher and finishes their Assignment, then writes the problem of the day in their Response Journal and does Study Facts when they are done. 
It's a work in progress- usually I have a whole group lesson and then most of the kids work on the assignment and study facts or skills practice. I will take a small group while those students are working.

Underneath the choices are two posters we have created as a class. The one pictured here shows our discussion of the pros and cons of different math strategies. I was really impressed at what the students came up with. We discussed when each strategy would be appropriate. Some of the ideas I encouraged from our math book. I review this, especially with my small group that uses these strategies, quite often. This is a work in progress.

One of the things that Math Expressions stresses is having students create and solve their own story problems using given equations or equations the students come up with. Here I showed the class how I would create a story problem. I firsts choose a "Math Mountain" and what I will use for a subject in my story. I told them I often use food or animals- not sure why! I asked for suggestions this time and someone said "meat." So I changed it to hamburgers. I then decide that I will create a subtraction story by having someone eat something. I used my "Math Mountain" to write my story. To solve, I drew a picture (another big component of Math Expressions) and wrote my equation and answer. Can't forget the label! 
I then made a checklist at the bottom and had students some up and underline an area and check it off to make sure I included it in my story problem. I had the kids write their own problems and then they used smelly markers to check their own work. It was quite motivating!

I will share some of my strategy/skills games and study facts games in a future post.

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