Monday, May 25, 2015

Is Addition like Subtraction? Math Monday and Wonderopolis

We are going to be the "Wonder of the Day" on Wonderopolis Thursday May 28, 2015! 

One afternoon all the first graders were gathered on the carpet discussing what we wanted to learn about numbers. When, just like that, one inquisitive mathematician asked "Is addition like subtraction?" A few students shared their thoughts on this question, but as they did they found themselves wondering even more. Knowing we needed more time to think about this and to try out a few ideas, we headed out into the workshop to grapple with our inquiry. 

The more we explored the more we wondered, so we sent this tweet~

Then, @CherylGehres sent us this tweet~

It was a great cupcake frenzy!
Friends who saw the similarities tried to convince those who did not. Those who saw the differences set out to prove they were indeed different! The debated raged on. Then, just like that we got these tweets-

AND then THIS...

We are THRILLED to announce that on Thursday May 28, 2015 we will celebrate as OUR wonder will be the featured "Daily Wonder!"  Please visit our wonder on Thursday, May 28, 2015!

Our final finding was, "Yes, addition is like subtraction because if you take something away and then put it back it's the same again."

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Celebrate this week ~ This is ONE A-MAZ-ing Class!

I wish you could see this the way my heart does.
This is my field day t-shirt complete
with the AUTOGRAPHS of my ENTIRE class!
The PERFECT embellishment! 

Ruth Ayers of Discover. Play. Build. invites  us to share weekly celebrations, big or small, on her blog. This week I am jumping in, celebrating my A-MAZ-ing class.   Thanks Ruth for hosting! 

Friday we had our annual field day. Field day at our school is full of good old fashioned outdoor games, the kind you might have played as a kid at a family reunion (and a few jumpy houses).  As soon as the kids see the school they know the day is going to be amazing! Flags, games, jumpy houses, and even snow cones machines are all you can see!  Kids come in with swimsuits under their clothes, water bottles in hand and the smell of freshly applied sunscreen overwhelms the building.  The whole entire school is outside ALL DAY!

The kids laughed, they ran, they ate snow cones and undoubtedly they made memories! As I watched my class play and struggle my heart filled with pride. The kids worked together to support their classmates, they played with healthy competition, and when someone (even me) was in need they came to help.

One stand out moment was watching Amy (not her real name) stop her race (and she was well ahead,
and she is competitive) to help each classmate make their way up a difficult climb. Of course they all passed her by to finish the race as she cheered them all on!  Such compassion....

As other teachers or parents joined our group they commented on the sense of community they saw and felt in our class. I am so proud of these first graders, they have empathy for others and a class bond that's strong and visible to outsiders.

As this warms my heart it also breaks my heart because soon our class will walkout of our classroom (as a class) for the final time.  I have witnessed struggle and growth in each and everyone and I could not be prouder of their determination, perseverance and who they are as people. They will all accomplish great things and I can't wait to see it all!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Trusting Readers and the Journey

As an educator I believe my biggest responsibility is to nurture readers. I work to design an environment where books are celebrated, thinking about books is par for the course and writing and talking about books is just part of what we do.  It starts on day one, we are readers. We choose our books, we think about our books, we know authors, we share books and we read just because it's what we do.

Books in our Lives~
2 readers, 2 classrooms
1 conversation

In this effort to cultivate readers books surround our classroom. Talk from and about books drives our community.  Books aren't just for learning they help us make friends, solve problems, connect with the world.
Readers in our community routinely share books in the classroom on Shelfari through various digital media.  We work collaboratively with readers in our space and readers from other classrooms.  Our day begins by self-selecting a book from our classroom to take home and read.  Reading and books are omnipresent in our community.

Threat of Reading Drought~
So why was it I was starting to see kids leaving book choices behind at the end of the day or hearing "Mrs. Frazier, I didn't have time to read last night."  I know spring sports are underway and families are busy and outside, but as readers we know about reading in edge times, we know and value our reading.  Our families understand and value the importance of reading at home. As I watched these trends grow I continued to ponder the reasons and how I was going to teach through the threat of a reading drought.  I knew it was something I needed to handle carefully.

I know how important attention and feedback can be in a child's day.  I see kids respond to feedback directed to a friend sitting near them. I also know my interest and excitement is contagious. I know how much these readers love talking about the books they're reading at home. They cheer when we share their Shelfari shelves at school and make arrangements to trade books from their shelves.  So rather than our typical procedure of checking in and reselecting books independently each morning I decided to make this another opportunity to talk and share as readers.

Give them what they Crave~
In our morning message I invited the readers to bring their reading from last night and the book they've selected for tonight to the carpet.   As students entered the room they began to questions their friends about the message.  Just the change of the message created a buzz! Already, talk about home reading was beginning to spark.  The bell signaled time to gather on the carpet a few kids paused to to see if their fellow readers were bringing their books, a few revisited the message to check, a few asked, "Do we bring our books?" I nodded, nothing more.  Once everyone was seated and ready to begin I asked our teacher's assistance (T.A.) to begin our day by starting our morning greeting. So far, nothing new, a typical morning meeting, the suspense was building as readers glanced at the books of their peers.  After the greeting I asked one student to share his reading from last night by saying,  

"You know how you hear something or you do something and then when you leave you forget a lot of things about it?"  
Heads nodded and few commented  
"That always happens to me." I continued
          "Well, somethings do fade away, but there's always something that sticks in your head."  
As I say this I see curious faces and a couple of nodding heads. I invite one of the nodding heads,  
"What stuck in your head from your reading last night?" 
I asked only a couple of readers the first day, the answers were as I expected 
"I liked when…."  
"I didn't really get the chance to read."   
That was day one~

Day 2, 3 & 4
Same message, same question and these were the responses~

"I think the next book in this series will…."  This reader has a plan! 
"My mom bought me 2 new books at Target last night!"  She's buying books! 
"I read in the car when we had to pick up my mom at the airport" Edgetime!  
"My dad let me sit with him in his recliner, I am not usually allowed to do that."  Reading on the lap of his daddy! 
"I didn't really get to read last night. Can you ask me tomorrow?" Tomorrow will be better

The Result~
It's not really about me at all, but this taught me more than reading survey or check in system!  I know my kids are real readers, reading in edge times, with parents, in the car and shopping for books, these are the behaviors of real readers, not school readers.  As I listened to these responses and many more I began to relax in the authenticity of their answers.  They weren’t sharing like academic readers. There wasn’t any strategy talk, or sharing of a drawing or digital creation. It was just the authentic voices of young readers embarking on a glorious journey!
I proud to walk beside them!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Celebrate This Week: My New Perspective on Teaching

Tonight marks the beginning of the weekend and most of us are excited about the 2 days off!  As I think about the weekend my mind rushes past the days off and right to the week ahead.  You see, this Monday I will step into my classroom as I have done all year, but this Monday I will walk into a dark room.  I will walk into a room waiting to be opened and prepped for the day.

Our class has had the benefit of having a student teacher all year… until today.  Today we celebrated her accomplishments and wished her well as  she moves onto the hunt for her very own classroom.

Having a student teacher share your class and your space can make a teacher a bit dependent.  I can't help feeling a bit anxious when I picture Monday morning.  I imagine myself standing in that dark door way frozen in fear! 

Will I remember to:
  • turn on the lamps
  • gather ALL teaching materials
  • set up the tables with student work mats
  • choose read aloud books 
  • login to the computers
  • pair blue tooth speaker with iPad
  • turn on projector 
  • tune on document camera
  • sharpen pencils
  • change the student jobs
  • compose a morning message
  • refill paper trays for writers workshop
  • answer parent emails
  • refill caffeinated beverage
  • visit the ladies room
  • greet the kids at the door
  • take attendance
  • check in books
  • schedule reading groups
  • confer with kids
  • watch the morning announcements
  • send the kids to lunch, recess, special
  • and ….
Hmm… What am I forgetting?  Only Monday will tell.

I am sure you're wondering how this post fits the celebration linkup by now.  I am celebrating the opportunity to share a class and a classroom with a student teacher and my new perspective on teaching.  

As I guided and coached our student teacher I noticed~
  • teaching isn't as easy as it appears
  • coaching isn't as easy a it appears
  • thinking on your feet as a teacher isn't easy
  • thinking on your feet as a coach isn't easy
  • choosing a teaching point is challenging
  • choosing a coaching point is challenging
  • getting to know students is crucial
  • getting to know student teachers is crucial
  • reflection is essential to teaching
  • reflection is essential to coaching
  • it isn't easy being a student
  • it isn't easy being a coach
  • this job takes grit!
So Monday, when I stand in that cold dark doorway I will take a deep breath, mumble some self talk and step inside, not with trepidation, but with perseverance and bravery.
Wish me luck! 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Math MondayThe Power of Independent Math

I have been reworking and adjusting my math workshop for a few years now.  I have found a few pieces of our math workshop are invaluable.  One is the first 15 minutes of the workshop. This is independent work time. Time to curl up in math work and practice what you need to practice as a mathematician. Kassia Omohundro Wedekind explains in her book Math Exchanges the need for kids to have time to practice math skills independently. Some kids may feel they need to take things slower, use different tools, or may be even embarrassed to work with a peer. Independent math time allows the mathematician to set the pace, chose the skill, the tools and do the learning!
Here's peek into our independent time~

N uses what her knows in basic facts to try adding to 200!

Ani starte with what she knows about doubles and pushes herself to higher numbers. 

Z rolls our dice and practices counting up on the 100's chart. 

E discovers counting by 3 is always 3 more. 

A explores the relationship between addition and subtraction.

The mathematicians designed the work, chose the tools and guess who did the learning? 
What's your favorite part of your workshop?

New Voices, New Auidences

Tuesday I have the honor of speaking with a class of preservice educators. We will discuss using technology in the classroom in a natural way, a way that not only modifies the learning, but makes what was once not possible, possible!

Our conversations will form around this thinking~

Monday, February 16, 2015

Math Investigations and Twitter

#MathMonday is hosted by @MandyRobek on her blog Enjoy and Embrace. #MathMondays provides teachers a place to come together and share math learning, ask questions and grow as  lead mathematicians in the classrooms.  I hope you stop by and read more math thinking and share your thoughts in the comments, we would love it if you joined us!  You can also find more math talk by following #MathMonday on twitter. 

Math is everywhere and I am passionate about kids asking questions, exploring and solving real 
math in our workshop. Our most recent math inquiry came from a student who commented, "I think addition is like subtraction."  Many students agreed while some disagreed, this discussion grew and became the focus of our math work for many days. As we investigated our questions we decided to share our question on twitter to gain new ideas. 

Soon Tweets were filling our Twitter feed! Watching the tweets come in with mathematicians from @MrsMaleysclass and @MsBaydasclass in Saskatchewan Canada was exciting and lead to new strategies for investigation. 

Then, Wonderopolis Tweeted us…

We know it takes a LOOONG time to get a wonder published, but if we make it we will  let everyone know! 

Then, this tweet from our district math coach appeared in our feed

Which lead to the investigation shared here in this Educreations.