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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.

Friday, October 21, 2011

My Room

Of course my classroom is a work in progress all year long but I thought I'd share some photos and ideas with you.

Our school opened in 2005 so I am super lucky to have such great technology and storage. I have an LCD projector in my room, a student computer, my computer, TV with VCR/DVD, microphone sound system and a Tablet PC. I am crossing my fingers for some sort of Smart Board next year. Right now, we only have a few in our school. That is a floor-ceiling window over near the TV but it was pretty bright out when I took the photos so I shut the blinds.

I don't usually have the desks in rows (and I didn't in September) but I decided to spread my class out this month. I usually change the seating chart every month and let the kids decide where they want to sit in June (little do they know it's really for just a few days). I also like having the kids plan out a seating chart. I tell them to make a plan that would fit in our space, include 24 desks, and make sure everyone can see the whiteboard. 

I am planning more posts with some photos that "zoom in" on different areas in my classroom. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My School Supplies

I'm back! This pregnancy has really been tiring me out lately! I promise to post photos soon! Thursday and Friday this week we have a union professional development conference so I will have some extra time.

I thought I'd quickly post my very favorite school supplies- the ones I use almost every day.

Fiskars Scissors- love the "crinch, crinch" of these!

Sharpie Pens- any color! I love my handwriting and have to have just the right pen.

Prodigy PaperPro Stapler- LOVE! I played with my husband's and knew this was the answer to all of my math packet stapling needs! Staples 25 sheets of paper with one finger. All of my teammates agree. Best stapler ever.

Mr. Sketch Scented Stix- the original Mr. Sketch's thinner cousin. I like using these to correct papers (especially spelling). The kids love to sniff them. I have the thin set and the regular Mr. Sketch markers near my desk. When they start getting used, I retire them to my word work box.

Post-it Notes- a variety of sizes, colors and shapes. I use these babies for EVERYTHING. You can probably find a pack of Post-its in every nook and cranny in my room. I love using the star-shaped ones for Daily 5.

Scotch Blue Painter's Tape- the only tape my building lets us use on the painted walls. I think I have five rolls floating around my room.

Trend Stinky Stickers- get 100% on a test? Earn one of these. I even use the dirt-smelling ones for our science tests.

Clorox Wipes- must. have.

Homework Stamp- this isn't the one I use but apparently Really Good Stuff doesn't have the homework stamp anymore. My entire team uses the same stamp so parents know when something needs to be returned to school and when it can just be kept at home.

So there you have it- what are your go-to supplies?