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. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Three Classrooms, Sixty-six Books, ONE conversation~ Today's Meet!

Today's post is my first post on Margaret Simon's DigiLit Sunday event. I am excited to be joining this great community and look forward to continuing in the future.

This post is also in reply to a tweet from @MissLuce1st. I found I may
need more than the 140 characters allowed by twitter to help you understand what it is that brought last night's reading alive in our three first grade classrooms!

This space is open to all three
1st grade classes for collaboration.

The Teachable Moment~
I have found that the teachable moments come at the most challenging times.  Do you abandoned the plans and follow the moment or do you stick with plan?  This is where the art of teaching comes in….and you have a decision to make!
One morning I heard a student in our class ask another student if Brady (a boy from another classroom) liked to read Ted Arnold's Fly Guy books.  It was clear he wanted to confer at reader's workshop and wanted to talk with another Fly Guy fan. When I heard this conversation (insert my OLW Listen which is helping me catch more of these moments) I knew this is exactly what readers do and what I wanted for the readers in our classroom, authentic reading!  This is when  it hit me, Today's Meet!  Today's Meet will allow the readers in all three classrooms to share their reading and connect with other readers in meaningful and purposeful ways. It may even breathe more life and energy to our reading from the previous night!

Today's Meet~
I quickly set up a room on Today's Meet, created a QR code (quick read code) and passed the codes out to the other first grade teachers, while enthusiastically asking, "Hey, does your class want to join us on Today's Meet to share last night's reading?" Of course they said- "YES!"

So Here's What Happened~
  • Students came in in the morning and found a QR code on the table along with an
    iPad. The students began scanning  the QR code which took them to our room on Today's Meet. 
  • Students began sharing their names and telling us about last nights reading. 
  • As students finished posting they watched the live feed which is projected in all three classrooms for the students to follow.  
Chatter and excitement filled our rooms as kids watched their post pop into the feed and saw the post of friends from other rooms! I heard one student tell another to look at their post on the big screen, while another student gasped to see a friend in another classroom read the same book last night, and another grab a post-it-note to jot down two names who also like Mo Willems books, which lead to the conference pictured here to the left!  This book chatter warmed my heart and breathed new excitement into reading outside of the classroom, what a great way to start our day!
We plan to continue this classroom collaboration using QR codes! Maybe one day kids will find all three classrooms are visiting their blog! What ideas do you have for inviting collaboration into your classroom? Please leave us a comment we would LOVE to learn from you! 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Raising the Bar in Math- Taking Math Beyond the Answers and the Classroom, Math 3.0

This week I am taking the plunge and diving into Math Monday! Math Monday was started by my friend Many Robek as a place to gather and talk math.  Mandy shares ~
 "I've wished for quite some time there was more math discussion and conversations in the twitter/blogging world." 

Today I am jumping into the conversation. I have a few post in mind, but I am starting with one that's weighing on my mind~ purpose and choice in math. Choices are a part of our math workshop.  I wrote about the choices and struggles I had as I worked to create a Math Workshop that mimics the Literacy part of our day here. 

Listening to Student Choices~
Recently we were talking as a class about a web based computer game and one student recommended "We shouldn't go on that game so much, it doesn't allow us to be creative or show our thinking. It's like it just tells us what to do." WOW! This statement really struck me, not only did this statement let me know this game wasn't a choice for him, he also told us why. This student is making purposeful choices for his learning and sharing this information with the class.  

It's All About Choice~
If you've read my blog before you know I am advocate of choice in our classroom and in promoting choice I also know it's important to teach children what needs to be considered in making choices for learning.  We talk about how the choices you make should support your thinking and your purpose. If you are working to figure something out then choose the tool(s) that work best and efficiently for you. If you want to share your learning with others or get feed back from others choose a tool that allows you to share and receive feedback.  Our workshop provides choice in manipulatives, paper, pencils, iPads, laptops, desktops and the apps and software that go with them.  As kids leave our focus lesson they choose their learning, tools and how they will share or if they will share with others. 

Here's a peek into our workshop choices~

Mathematicians present questions for others to answer on Kid Blog

Mathematicians work to sort and count math tools on the dry erase table. 

Mathematicians share counting by ten with the help of Educreations.

Mathematicians choose paper and pencil to show the combination of ten.

Mathematicians show us their understanding of doubling with the help of Educreations. 

Mathematicians explore the relationship between addition and subtraction on the dry erase table. 

Mathematicians solve doubles plus one with manipulatives on the dry erase table. 
Math 3.0~
Giving students an opportunity to explain how they solved a problem or even record the process helps the child to reflect on the work and often make changes in their thinking. In addition this allows others (including the teacher) to see and often HEAR the process behind the work.  In addition this creates a record of the child's process skills and flexibility in math thinking.  Adding the choice of digital tools makes what was not possible before, possible!  I am humbled by all that is possible when we provide the opportunity of choice to our students. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

When I Stopped to Listen to My Classroom~ OLW

This week I am taking a second to #celebratelu a few gems I heard when I stopped to ….


Thanks Ruth for being such a gracious hostess! 

Sitting in a quiet chair, in my comfy pajamas and just listening to my week~ 

 I heard...

 6 year old bravery...
Sofia and Ani learned how to "App Smash" (embed a Voicethread into a blog post) and they did this one all by their little 6 year old selves! 

amazement and awe...
After listening to her class discuss Ruby Bridge's acts of bravery and perseverance D innocently replies~ "She changed the world for everybody."

I am a reader with purpose and intention...

This reader combed through 4 books tubs looking for ONE specific book HE wanted to read! 

perseverance ...
After working for several days to craft her love of Pete the Cat into a blog post she drafted this! 

 author an make intentional decisions...
After receiving feedback that the page on the left was difficult to read the author chose a new tool to allow him to write smaller and adjusted the size of his letters to make them stretch across the page without "smooching up at the edge."

what I have always dreamed of hearing...

This first grader remembered our FIRST read aloud together! 

What is your saying to you? 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Celebrate~ this week- working with preservice teachers

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 opportunity to work alongside a preservice teacher!   Thanks Ruth for hosting! 

As an educator I see my role in the classroom as a learner and a mentor.  I see it as my responsibility to know the students and to work with the students in establishing a community where we can flourish and make choices that guide us to new learning and new questions that reflect the interest and values of the members.  Knowing the students in our classroom requires us to listen, ask questions and guide in a way that not only allows choice, but in a way that necessities choice. 

I am currently working alongside a preservice teacher, Mary Kay, in our first grade classroom.  The benefits of having another teacher in the classroom are obvious, but the responsibilities aren't often as clear.  I approach this responsibility each day with the knowledge that one day Mary Kay will have a unique classroom of her own, full of diverse learners and a plethora of choices.  Mary Kay will need to be reflective in her practice as a teacher and a learner to guide her students in a way that respects their needs and values.  She will also need to be reflective in how she builds her educational beliefs and establishes a style unique to herself and true to her beliefs about education. 

The challenge to me each day is in explaining those instructional decisions that take us away from our plans and lead us to follow our children and how abandoning the best laid plans makes us better teachers and gives our students more opportunities.  After teaching for over 20 years these moves just seem to be a part of who I am and how I teach, but when I am challenged with explaining this I realize just how much intention is behind these seemingly natural diversions.  

So today I am celebrating the opportunity to work with Mary Kay and help her to find her way into a classroom that respects student's choices and opens the doors to new opportunities for learning for her and her students.  The responsibilities of being a teacher are changing everyday, but if we accept these changes as new opportunities and keep an open mindset our job remains consistent, it's just the how that brings new challenges. 

I would love to hear from others who are working alongside preservice teachers! How you are supporting the journey?  

Mary Kay is on Twitter @MkGrove12  let's get our preservice teachers connected and started on their own PLN! 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Letting Go and Opening The Classroom For Learning

Choice Brings Agency and Focus~
The multitude of choices open to learners today has brought more authenticity and agency to our classroom. The opportunities available has refocused how we plan, work and learn, and our roles as student and teacher. Student choice is encouraged not only in the way we learn, but also in how and what we learn.  Students choose from iPads, computers and apps as easily and freely as paper, pencil, markers, and crayons. Students choice focuses and drives learning and inquiry.   

Classroom Community and Choice~
A student led classroom requires a strong community. Taking time to build a trusting learning community must be intentionally taught. Developing a classroom community strengthened my trust in
the students.  I trust them to be responsible for their learning and to make choices for their learning. We work together to solve problems, manage the classroom, and grow as learners. This work builds a sense of ownership that enables students to feel pride and power in the classroom and the learning. This creates engaged learners who work to take care of our space, each others and themselves.
Classroom Structure is Key~
In order for students to become purposeful in how they plan and work, they need to know they will have time to explore the tools and to make choices in their work. We need to create a that schedule that is predictable and open for choice kids can count on. We need to schedule time for choice everyday. Our classroom runs in a workshop model. The workshop structure of our day gives students the opportunity to make theses decisions.  Each workshop begins with a focus lesson designed to support students in the work they will be doing later. The focus lesson ends with students envisioning the work they will do in the workshop.  As the students enter the workshop they begin by selecting their space, books, tools, and how they will work, in a partnership, a small group or independently. Students spread out on the floor, in beanbags, at tables or tucked in corners.  Some curl up in one task the entire workshop, others create ways to share their learning. They might create a poster to show their thinking or create a VoiceThread to ask others to join a conversation. Some may invite a friend to conference. Some may choose to blog about learning and still others visit the media center or conference with in the common space between our three first grade classroom with a friends from another classroom, (this is another post- later).  The workshop is full of choice each day the students count on this time and often come in in the morning with plans already made.  

Our New Roles~
So what does all this choice mean to our roles as student and teacher? It means We are guided by the students interest, needs and discoveries and we are all learners. It also means there are 23 teachers and students. The kids are independent and find they can learn from and with each other. During the work part of our workshops we are conferring and meeting with small groups, with an individual, or alone. All along I am monitoring the classroom and student progress to guide my planning and our next steps together.  No longer am I coming into the week with a preset agenda or project. I come into the classroom with questions and possibilities, the lesson design comes from the kids and becomes personalized and authentic. I think it’s important to remember the one doing the most work is doing the most learning.  

Monday, January 5, 2015

How Has Your Teaching Changed?

Our classroom hasn’t always been as it is today.  Just a few years back the only tools available were paper, pencils, crayons and markers. The only choices available were made by the teacher.  The way I think about choice in the classroom has evolved. Choice allows students to work with passion, independence and purpose. Choice builds life long learners and this is something I wanted to instill my students.

Finding the Support to Make the Change~
I didn’t make these changes all by myself.  I’ve had the support of my Personal Learning Network (PLN). These are educators who push my thinking and share their journeys openly. I find them in my building, my district, neighboring districts and all around the globe.  The best part is I can always find them on twitter and on their blogs.  This is my learning community, I feel safe to ask questions, take risk and share my journey. The big question became "How do I build this learning community in my classroom?"

Building a Learning Community~
A strong community is key in building a learning community. We allowed ourselves the time to learn to respect others, our space and communication. We can’t assume kids know the meaning of these words, they’re just too important.  We have to take the time to teach the students what it means to be a member of a trusting learning community.  It means feeling safe to take risk, try new things and to follow their needs as a learners.  

Making the Change~
Changing the way I approach my classroom and my instruction took conscience decisions; an open mindset, bravery and trust.  These decisions gave me permission to follow the kids and what I know about teaching and learning. These decisions released a passion I didn’t know I had.  As educators we know ourselves, we know our students and we know what kids need.  If you’re in education for the kids, you’re following the needs of the kids and trusting yourself and the students how could you go wrong?  I truly don’t think you can!

Please Join Me~
Making these changes changed the way I plan, teach, meet with students and the way I see my role as teacher. I hope you will share your journey with me and return to hear more about our classroom journey.