Monday, February 5, 2018


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For me, this means really noticing my mindset. For much of my teaching career, I was a firm believer in multiple intelligences and used my fixed mindset to interpret that to support the belief that there were "math" people and there are "literacy" people. As a student, I always struggled in math and because I was slow to memorize and compute, I was often told by well meaning adults, "You aren't a math person....stick with books and you'll be fine." I went on to perpetuate this belief with many of my students who displayed similar struggles as I did in school; truly believing I was validating their struggle by steering them in a different direction; to something that came more "naturally" or easily to them.   In recent years, with the advent of research on brain based learning and learning about "GROWTH MINDSET"  I've seen the limitations that this fixed way of thinking placed on myself and on the students I "encouraged' in this way. 

In today's math classrooms, it's really important that we as educators begin to shift our mindset to know that EVERYONE is a Mathematician

We need to take steps to help children in our classrooms find and define their math selves and show them that there is room for all types of math personalities at the table. 

At Thursday's conference, I learned the phrase "Shared mathematical authority". This means that every student in the room and you share the responsibility for "knowing" math and seeking understanding and trying to be "good" at it. The 8 mathematical practices are the doorways to this authority. Don't close them for students by steering them away from the struggle they need to go through to develop their own understandings of challenging content. Those doors aren't reserved for those who "get it" or can "explain it" on the first try or the fastest among us. Everyone can do math. How is this belief reflected in your classroom practices and culture?

Monday, January 22, 2018

Thanks to Gayle Wolotsky; the STEM teacher at Mast Landing,  for recently sharing this great post, 10 Good Resources for Math Teachers and Students, from Richard Byrne's Free Technology for Teachers Blog. Here's a sample of one of the resources; which is excellent for strengthening student's reasoning skills for Mathematical practices #1 and #3 This is also a great way to integrate math with writing skills related to your opinion writing units.  
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Would You Rather? is a website maintained by John Stevens for the purpose of sharing quick and fun math challenges for students.  Would You Rather? presents a picture with a mathematics problem that asks "would you rather?" Most of the questions have a financial aspect to them. One of my favorite examples is this challenge that asks "would you rather go on a 5 minute shopping spree in the store of your choice or get a $2,000 gift card to the store of your choice?" Would You Rather? offers a simple worksheet that your students can use to analyze the choices presented to them in the challenges. (attached)

An example of a task that might be just right for a primary classroom is:

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An example of one that might be a good fit for upper elementary grades is: 
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Visit the blog for 9 more tech connected activities that are FREE and math based! 

Wondering where you might fit it in?
It could fit into the activity portion of your morning meeting or you could start math on your Plus One day by doing one of these.  

FREE Math Fluency Training Videos: 
Interested in FREE Math Fluency training but missed the live video on Facebook last night?Visit Christina Tondevold's website BUILD MATH MINDS at the links below. 
Multiplication Fact Fluency training 1:
Addition fact fluency training 1:

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Week of January 8

Money to improve your math practice?
Inline image 2  Does earning $50 to spend free on Amazon sound like it's too good to be true? Well, I did too at first, but it's real and I did it in about 20 minutes. For a little while longer, you can, too!  In December the Virtual Learning Community posted a research opportunity that will help the University of Illinois in a research study. Just click on the link below.  The video clips show math teachers in elementary school classrooms using some great strategies to help you grow your practice. See teachers supporting  student discussions  or see students participating in productive STRUGGLE. Take a look and offer your insights. Your time will be well worth it both to improve your practice and with a little extra $$$.          

Participate in Research: Watch VLC Video Clips and Provide Comments

The VLC team has partnered with researchers from the University of Illinois to improve your experience on the VLC. Your input as a VLC member is invaluable and will inform how the VLC can be improved to support teacher learning from video and from other teachers.If you are willing to watch clips, provide comments on these clips in response to prompts, answer a short background survey, and earn $50 for participating, please register here.After registering, you will be taken to a page where you will participate in the study. After completion of the study, you will be taken to a page where you can enter in the information needed to compensate you for your participation.Our partners are Michelle Perry, Ph.D. (University of Illinois, Department of Educational Psychology) and Joseph Robinson Cimpian, Ph.D. (NYU) and the research project is called Understanding and Improving Learning from Online Mathematics Classroom Videos. This study is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Week of January 3rd

WELCOME to RSU5 Elementary Schools' very own Math Blog. This is a growing, breathing creation that I've begun for you to help your students reach new levels in math! 

Right now, it is an archive of all the tips and the best bits of my weekly e-mail messages. With your input over time, I hope it will grow into a useful tool that can inspire you to develop a passion for math and support you in reaching your instructional goals in math as well as deepen your expertise with math content and best practices. 

Take a look around and know your feedback and input is welcome. Please feel free to send me your ideas via e-mail or catch me real time when I'm in your building.  What would you like to see featured here? What would make this blog a useful and informative tool for you? I have lots of ideas to shape, but the most important thing is your input! 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Week of December 18

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During our November PD day, most of you indicated that you were familiar with the Standards for Mathematical Practice. Most of you also shared that your students are not as familiar with them as you are. 
Take a look at how one 2nd grade teacher at Morse Street School, Meg Albright, incorporated  standard 3 into the morning message.
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PLC tip: Take a minute to share how you display the Standards for Mathematical Practice in your classrooms. How might you take your use of the standards one step further to make them more meaningful and accessible to students on a regular basis? What do you notice or think about the following variations of the practices?
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Week of December 11

Last week I had an opportunity to listen to a free webinar entitled Upgrading Differentiation with Jessica Hockett. It's based on her book. (use the link to watch it yourself if you want some fresh ideas)
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Differentiation is a practice all teachers work to implement in their classroom. Based on the math audit completed in the fall; here in RSU5, it's the number one skill teachers have requested support with. If you think about it,  we upgrade our cell phones and computers frequently, so why not our differentiation knowledge and practices?  To help you keep apulse on different differentiation techniques, I'll be featuring a differentiation technique each month. 

Take TURN AND TALK to your partner one step deeper by offering "choice" which is a common tool we use to differentiate for student interest and it helps boost engagement; which often can appear as a barrier to student knowledge. If they aren't interested many students don't answer in depth or with detail to help you gauge what they know about a topic. 
Below you'll see a series of questions that you could pose ( as a SHARE at the end of math class or as a "warm up". (3 might be just right as opposed to all 5 featured here.) The choice you built into the turn a talk could end up enriching a deeper discussion leading to stronger content/skill knowledge; in this case, with estimation and measurement. 

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Week of December 4th

A Peek into Classrooms:  One of the best pieces of my job is having the opportunity to get into so many classrooms! This week, I'd like to feature some of the sights that connect to key content at a few different grade levels.

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Many teachers use great tools to help organize lunch count. What made these stand out to me is how Amy Kieran, kindergarten teacher at MSS, used 10 frames to help kids build number sense and subitizing skills!  

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Telling time is a challenging skill. It's something that is continuously mentioned as a lagging skill all the way up through 5th grade. Giving kids multiple tools to help them increase their interaction with time and analog clocks can really help.  It even connects to the 7th Standard for Mathematical practice: which is to Look for and Make use of Structure.  Featured above (top picture) is Kristy Johnson's tool for showing her 2nd graders at MSS what their specials come up daily. You can see Jona Chase's 3rd grade clock is labeled with multiples of 5 as reminders. She even sent home a set for a student who is focusing on mastering the structure of telling time so his parents can continue learning at home.