Sunday, August 24, 2014

number lines + rounding

To kick off our Math classes, I show this awesomely hilarious video (of course - it's a beginning of the year staple): 
The kids then talked together to help them figure out why I would show it to introduce math. It was a pretty great conversation and they hit on a lot of the major messages: there are many different ways to learn in math class; you can't just give up if you don't get it; instructions really matter to help our understanding; etc. Then as their first journal entry, I simply ask them to answer the question What is math? Their responses can be very telling!
(There are a number of these and they're great and simple little brain breaks!)

The next day, I stood in front of the class with a long strip of butcher paper with a 0 and 100 at opposite ends and asked them to simply work in teams to create a math tool. That's it. They worked freely together for about an hour (I was surprised it took this long and was happy I'd reserved two blocks for this very open-ended task!) as I rotated to listen in on conversations. Some of their responses:

They got pretty creative and used a number of strategies to make number lines. Afterward, I asked each group to casually present their work to the class. We were able to focus a lot on their work as a team, with two big topics of conversation being What went really well for your group? and What was challenging about this task? I definitely have a reflective bunch this year!

The next day I used more of the workshop model with a very mini mini-lesson (which wasn't really me actually teaching but more guiding the kid's conversations to help them understand rounding to the nearest ten and hundred). I handed out a page of numbers to each team and asked them to show me in some way how they could be rounded appropriately.

The kids looked at the work of other teams in a sort of gallery walk, which gave them a chance to revise some of their incorrect numbers. This was definitely a great start-up to our cooperative math and workshop model format!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

on becoming a working mom

In thinking about heading back into the classroom during the summer months, I knew going back to work with a three-month old baby would be a challenge.
Challenge was right.
I feel run off my feet between the hours of 7am and 4pm.
I feel weighed down with responsibilities.
I feel majorly disorganized as I juggle lesson planning, meetings, and classroom activities.
But I also feel truly blessed (if blessed is the right word) to be back to work with a healthy baby who is right down the hall from my room in the faculty nursery, where I can continue to breastfeed and get all the best baby cuddles I need. Mara is also developing beautifully, right alongside her term friends, which is so amazing for a six-week preemie. My admin are thoughtful, kind, and so supportive, and have even made me exempt from yard duty. Living in a country with such a short maternity leave, our school has made all the difference in fostering a smooth transition.
Holy cow! I'm over eleven pounds!
(I started out at 5...)

When I afford myself the time to stop and think - getting better at this - I recognize that many many mommies go back to work and all their babies fare just fine. My students are smart, motivated inquirers, and with the right focused guidance will learn all our curriculum sets out for them to learn and then some. Plus Mara's got the very best daddy. I'm one lucky lady. (If busy.)

At any rate, here are just a few (rather poor) photos from our first 1.5 weeks back in the classroom:

working with number lines - an upcoming post

the famous sticky note questions

our Multiple Intelligences

sharing work while learning about Mathematical Practice 1

student definitions of happiness

our wall of happiness

Now if only we could get repair guys in to fix our broken washing machine and air conditioners. It's been almost two weeks and it's mighty hot in here and we're running out of clothes!

Friday, August 1, 2014

inspiring creativity

We start back to school on Monday.
After being off for the past three months with our baby, I'm a mix of excited and nervous.
Reflecting on the last year in the classroom, I knew there was one thing I definitely wanted to add:
Time fillers!
Then I decided these should help foster creativity and build a great classroom culture.
So I've just put these simple prompts together:

click the picture to download for free

The file itself is not all that fantastically pretty or creative on my part, but hey.