Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Top 10 Tips for a New Math Program
With most states beginning to implement the Common Core State Standards for math, many teachers are struggling to make sense of new objectives while at the same time adjusting to teaching an entirely new math curriculum.  

How well I remember those long nights preparing for the next day's lesson. Forget about planning ahead; it felt as if I could barely keep my head above water. Many times I've found myself at a loss as to how to get through those trying times. 

For those of you in those same shoes, you are in good company. Forty-six other states are going through the same birth pangs of implementing the new standards.  

May I offer a bit of advice and a lot of heart felt encouragement to help you get through the first critical weeks of your new math program?   Here are my top 10 tips:  

  • Give it time.  Mathematical proficiency doesn't happen overnight...for students or their teachers. There will be a learning curve with any new curriculum. Accept that right up front. It takes time to adjust to a new way of thinking.
  • Follow the program.  Lots of research went in to creating, developing, organizing, and publishing it. Trust the work that they have done. There will be time later for you to tweak it to better fit your needs.
  • Don't despair.  A little patience and a lot of diligence goes a long way. It will get easier as you go along.
  • Use your professional judgment.  You know when something is working or whether you need to step back and redirect. Follow your instincts.
  • Collaborate.  Don't go it alone. Ask for help, talk to others, seek advice. Share your grins and your groans.
  • Reflect.  Take a critical look at each lesson when its done. What worked? What didn't? How can you improve the lesson the next time you teach it? 
  • Don't be afraid to fail.  Sometimes we learn our best lessons from our biggest goofs. Learn from it, move on, and make tomorrow's lesson better.
  • Prepare well.  Give it your best shot. Your students deserve nothing less. Now is not the time to wing it. It takes time and effort to build new routines.
  • Read the teacher notes.  ALL of them...BEFORE the lesson. They will often get you out of a jam or prevent you from ever getting into one in the first place.
  • Keep your eye on the objective.  It's really not about you. Accept that things may be a little rocky at first and that you are learning along with your students. Allow yourself the time to learn. You will look back and realize that you have come a long way and your students are better for it!  And remember...learning is as much about the process as it is about the product.

Hang in there...and keep on teaching the math! :)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Snack on Solid Shapes!

Hi all! This is Mary from Sharing Kindergarten.

I am so excited to be guest blogging all about math today.
Math is one of my favorite subjects to teach because

I feel it is so natural to integrate math into
other elements of my curriculum.
I also can move at the pace my class needs
because Math builds on each other. 

This week, I taught my sweet Kinders all about solid shapes. 
I have activities, videos, and other ideas included here}

 On Friday, we created solid shapes
using mini marshmallows and toothpicks.
I used an example on each table for my students to try to create.
Below is a picture of the purple table 
creating a triangular pyramid.

I found that once a student created the shape with their
toothpicks and marshmallows, the others could easily copy.
I had lots of extra hands around to help!

The best part of this activity is that it forces my students
to think about the flat shapes inside the solid shapes. 
We created cubes, rectagular prisms, triangular pyramids,
and a regular pyramid.

I allowed each student to eat their marshmallows
when they made two different shapes.

 After lunch, we had a special math snack.
I found several items at my
grocery store that are solid shapes.

We put them on a plate for each student to explore.
THIS makes it more real for each student.
We talked about the sphere, which was Trix cereal.
We also talked about what other
types of foods are spheres.

We found out apples, oranges, cheese balls (like cheese puffs),
and many more items are shaped like spheres.
Then, the students got to eat some of their spheres.
I brought up biting them in half to make a half sphere.

Then, we discussed cylinders. We reviewed the shape,
then I asked them which food was a cylinder on their plate.
This one was easy - marshmallows.
I used big marshmallows because we used the little ones before.

Again, we applied this shape to other foods.
I mentioned cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving...
still shaped like a can and all! 
* I also use Combos here, but I couldn't find them this time.

Now that you see the process,
I will tell you the foods we matched to each shape.

We had two cone shapes- baking morsels and Bugles. 
Cubes where caramel pieces- each student got one.
Rectangular Prism- Starburst candy

I walked around to assess students while they snacked. 
Almost every single student in my class
could name and describe each solid shape!

I hope this has given you two ideas to help teach
solid shapes to your students.
I hope you stop by my blog to say "HI!!!"
and follow me on my many FUN
math activities with my little learners. 

What other food items should I add to this "solid shape" list?


Mary Amoson
Sharing Kindergarten

Monday, August 13, 2012

Back to School Sale!

www.teachthemath.comToday is the last day!   I know you will all want to check out the fabulous deals at the Back to School Sale hosted by Teachers Pay Teachers.  

I have been saving things to my wish list for the last couple of weeks and I plan to take advantage of the sale and stock up on some great classroom resources!  Remember to use the code BTS12 for and additional 10% off the sale price! Happy shopping!

Of course, if you want to check out my one and only product, you can purchase it for only $1.44! (you only get the extra 10% off with the code BTS12)  Click on the picture to get yours!

Enjoy shopping at the Back-to-School sale and keep on teaching the math! Have a great school year! 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Visit from Mrs. Hodge

Hi y'all! I'm Elizabeth from Mrs. Hodge and Her Kindergarten Kids! I would like to take a moment to thank Penny for allowing me to guest post on her blog today! This is so exciting!!!

I get excited when I talk about math, but this hasn't always been the case! Believe it or not, I was horrible in math when I was younger. I've made a vow to myself to never let a child "just skate through" like I did! I try hard to really relate math to my each of my students. I believe that if they can see how it is used in their everyday life, they are more likely to be engaged in the lessons during class.

Looking forward to school starting soon, I have decided to try something new this year! I'm going to implement math stations into my schedule. This summer I read the book, Math Work Stations by Debbie Diller, and I'm ready to dive in!

I already do The Daily 5 in my classroom so I feel like adding math stations into my classroom would be a perfect fit! What I love most about this system is that my teammates and I will no longer need to switch classes to level out for math---instead, the work stations have you differentiate for all of your students so you can keep your own students and still meet the needs of each learner! Not to mention, the teacher gets to meet with small groups daily! You can really tailor your small group session to the needs of those few students.

I also love this concept because it allows each student to really focus on each skill at their level.  We've all had those students who are really strong at one concept, like patterning, but weak at another, like money. By having one station that focuses on one skill but it is differentiated on 3 levels, really allows each child to work at their own level every time.  No child is forced to stay on the same level for all of the station boxes.

I've organized my manipulatives and I feel a lot better by knowing exactly what I have available to me. (Knowing what you have to work with is half the battle!) I was able to throw out old clutter, purge doubles of things and label stuff to keep. I have also stocked up on my actual math station boxes.  I have chosen to go with these scrapbook storage boxes, which can be found at Michael's and Hobby Lobby--and they are usually ALWAYS on sale so you can get them for as low as $4.99!
I also have settled on my rotation chart looking something like this! I will probably put the names of the kids on Velcro so I can move them easily when need.

(Click here to go to the original source for the chart)

Now, I need to get busy finishing the activities that I'm going to put inside!

If you missed the great book study done on this book last summer, click here to go to Mrs. Wills Kindergarten original post. I learned so much after I followed each blogger's journey, chapter by chapter, through the book!

If you haven't yet, I'd love for you to hop on over to my blog and become a follower! That way you can keep up with my kids and their progress this year! I am confident that math work stations will be a huge success in my room!  Do you use Math Stations in your room? How does it work for you?

Huge hugs to Penny again for allowing me to crash her blog for the day!

Mrs. Hodge and Her Kindergarten Kids

Teachers...don't forget to check out the Back to School sale at Teachers Pay Teachers! You can find lots of great deals today and tomorrow! (August 12th and 13th!) And you can get my Four in a Row game for only $1.44 with the promo code BTS12! Thanks!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Welcome Debbie Clement!

Friends, today I am thrilled to host my friend, Debbie Clement!  She is a phenomenal author, illustrator, performer, teacher, and all around fabulous educator!  I know you will enjoy her contagious enthusiasm as much as I do!  :)

OH HAPPY DAY!! It's my turn to share here.

What fun. What delight! I have the honor of contributing a guest post today -- thank you for the opportunity, Dr. Penny.  It's a thrill to introduce myself to new readers. Let's get this party started! 
photo of: Number Fun Equations

Let's start with some basics about me: I LUV'd math growing up. I was super good in fact. I won oodles of math-derby contests. Chalk at the black-board, who can solve the problem first was a strength. I was great at long division and I was super capable all the way to AP Calculus! 

Seeing these 'old school' flash cards took me right back to that chalk-in-hand adrenalin of beat the clock speed racers. 

photo of: Number Fun Equations
My favorite-factor set!!
Somewhere along the line, my delight with finding the 'right' answer evolved to the appreciation for the open-ended exploration of the Arts. Somehow as an adult I notice myself seeing math all around me. In shapes and patterns. I explore those geometric relations now in fabric as quilt work. 

              photo of: "You're Wonderful" picture book illustrations from fabric --exploration in geometry + Art by Debbie Clement

My songs are full of metrics, patterns even sculpted algebraic equations. After seeing the picture book "Pattern Fish" at the library, where in reading the text the child is asked to solve for X, I wrote and recorded a little dittie I call the "Pattern Song." The lyrics in the first verse unfold: "Knees-tap, knees-tap, knees-tap, knees.............. and after a sufficient pause even young children fill in the blank, solve for X and hit-the-beat with the word: TAP!

Its an honor to be invited to make school visits. I get to come for a day -- or sometimes two -- and my plan is to share my 'story' with the children in your room. My goal is to encourage your students. Inspire them. Delight them. Sing with them. And yes, explore patterns in the midst of music + Art.  

photo of: Debbie Clement making Author-Illustrator School Visit to Kindergarten

For the last 16 years I have used the motto, "Have guitar, will travel." From those early classroom visits and staff development presentations I went on to record my original songs for the classroom onto 7 CDs. They're known to my fan club as, "Debbie's Ditties."  At this point I've recorded over 100 original songs! Most recently I have added the layer of being an 'Author and Illustrator,' as I have turned 3 of my songs into traditional picture books, acting as author, illustrator AND publisher! These little projects of mine have taken me on some amazing adventures. Can I have a whooop-whoooop? 

photo of: Kindergarten Collaborative Art Project to "You're Wonderful"
Long Island, NY Collaborative Kindergarten Project
My favorite thing in kindergarten visits is to bring my original quilts and we compare them to the presentation of the images in the printed traditional hardback books. When the students see the quilts and the open books they *finally* connect the dots that I'm the one who made the book. Often times the children have created art projects in response to my work. LUV LUV LUV LUV LUV seeing it!

My story is a compelling one. I am the poster child for 'do-what-you-love and amazing opportunities will present themselves'. I could ramble on and on about:
  • my two European adventures to present concerts and presentations to the children of our troops stationed abroad PLUS my day in Reggio, ITALY
  • my other two books and classroom responses to those works 
  • taking out a loan on our house to get my first book into your hands 
  • being a two-time Breast Cancer survivor with a zest for living
  • my quest to get my blog connected to a wider world
  • my travels giving keynotes and workshops across the country.

Based on the enthusiastic response of children to my visits, I would encourage you to pursue creating an 'author' visit when ever possible. No doubt you have a local dignitary eager to make a visit. Check SCBWI (Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) for a possible local candidate for your consideration. My goal for the new school year is to create Skype author visits for classrooms too far away from my itinerary. Let's use the technology available to make excitement unfold in your room!!

My own blog of my travels into schools around the country and around the globe is over at RainbowsWithinReach. My newest claim to fame is that I am editor-in-chief over at the collaborative blog PreK+K Sharing where we have about 35 authors contributing one article each month. I throw down the welcome mat for each -- when you have the opportunity to hop over for a visit. Small world. I've gathered up the very best contributors.

photo of: Organize Your Classroom with Rainbows Within Reach school visit vingettes

The number one article on my blog is one on Organization in the Classroom, people seem to really appreciate the photos from my travels into oodles of classrooms. My article over at PreK+K with the most views is one I wrote on the distinction between Process + Product in Children's Art.  It seems that the old art-teacher in me is quite opinionated. 

I get to give the keynote for the state of Arkansas this fall and Tennessee next winter. Lots of other conferences from FL to OH are getting the details worked out as I type. Wouldn't it be awesome to meet in person? Until then please follow my blog(s) or my growing Pinterest collection, where 19,500++ of your peers have already got a jump on you and my ever-growing pin-boards!

Let me close by offering an opportunity for you to look over my shoulder at a kindergarten school visit in Amityville, NY as we started off our time together in their school gym. Thank you for your efforts on behalf of children everywhere. 

-- Debbie --
photo of: HUGE GIVE-AWAY of one entire set of Debbie Clement materials: 6 CDs + 3 Picture Books

***If you ever order from my website, please use the promo code "great" and receive 10% off your order. That should pay for the shipping. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Common Core Resources

There is an awful lot of hype these days over the implementation of the new Common Core Standards. Teachers have been scrambling to gather materials, lessons, assessments, etc. to get ready for the upcoming fall implementation.  In order to make this process a little less overwhelming and a little more teacher-friendly, a few of my blogger friends and I are collaborating on a set of blogs that are sure to become a great place for you to find common core resources.
Common Core Classrooms will assist teachers as they plan and prepare for the school year.  The posts are labeled according to the standards which they address.  Many bloggers, including myself, will be adding posts regularly that will provide teachers with the best of the best ideas, products, and freebies to help with common core implementation.
Common Core Kids is a blog by the same authors designed to assist parents with school age children. If you are a teacher, you will want to be sure to pass this blog along to the parents of your students. We hope to make this a parent friendly site where they can get great information to help them understand the common core expectations and to help their children succeed in school.

Be sure to follow the blogs and check them often for the latest and best information from some of the best blogger/teachers across the country. We can all use a little nudge in the right direction to get us fully on board with what the common core standards require! And by all means, let us know what you would like to see as a focus on the blog! We value your opinion!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Big Product Swap!!
It's finally here! Today is the blogger product swap! I will be looking at a product that will be a useful addition to my assessment portfolio. With the adoption of the Common Core Standards, many schools find themselves scrambling to create assessments that accurately align to the standards.

After all, if you are teaching from the standards, you should be testing from the standards as well.  An increase in instructional rigor should prompt an increase in rigor of our assessment instruments.

The product that I reviewed is a 2nd Grade Common Core Math Assessments pack and was created by Kathi Berry from Primary Possibilities!   These assessments do a great job of testing the standards to mathematical proficiency.  The assessments cover standards 1-4 from the Numbers & Operations in Base Ten domain.

This 31 page packet includes one formative and three summative assessments for each standard and includes both multiple choice and short answer test items. They include opportunities for implementing problem solving skills as well.  Here are a few sample assessments.

In addition, the packet contains assessment scoring sheets and graphing sheets for both individual and class progress monitoring.

You can purchase your own copy of this assessment product from here for only $5.00.  In addition to this product, Kathi also has assessment packs to use with the other standards.  I know you will enjoy using these ready made assessments in your classroom.  

You will want to check out the other items from Kathi's TPT store and visit her blog, Primary Possibilities, for great ideas for your classroom and for implementing the Common Core in grades K-2! Thanks for reading along and keep on teaching the math!

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