Big Results in a Small Amount of Time

On May 17, 2016 over 150 teachers gathered to explore, discuss and make Big results 1connections.  After a long day at work, these teachers eagerly investigated and shared ideas regarding how to use ‘5 Mathematical Routines’ (Quick Images, Counting, Number Talks, Number Lines and Which One Doesn’t Belong) in their classrooms.   These 5 – 15 minute routines help to develop a mathematical community, provide regular practice on mathematical concepts, develop number sense and computational fluency with the students.

“The ultimate goal is that students make connections over time, build an Number Sense Routinesunderstanding of relationships among numbers and operations, and ultimately apply their number sense understanding to problem solving.”                                                                                ~Jessica Shumway

These routines are directly connected to the B.C. revised curriculum.  The focus on curricular competencies to ‘show what you know’ (the content) is embedded in all of these routines. Each routine has a slightly different emphasis and purpose, but all of them focus on communicating, thinking and working together (the Core Competences). The structures of routines may include being part of a ‘warm up’, daily math investigation, mini-lesson, guided math group, or a ‘reflect and share’ session.

Here is a description of the 5 routines focused on during the session:Big results 3

Quick images

  • Big results 4Students are shown pictures displaying groups of objects or symbols, viewing each for only a few moments.
  • Students are encouraged to take a ‘picture’ Big results 5and visualize the image in their head.
  • Students are asked to share their thinking about the images shown (i.e. How do you see it?)

Counting

  • Counting Around the Circle – Whole class participation. Each student says a number as you count around the circle.Big results 6
  • Counting Collections – Partner work. Each pair is given a collection of objects to estimate, count and record the count.
  • Choral Counting – Whole class participation (or small group). The teacher decides on a number to start on and then a number to skip count by.  The teacher records the number, pausing the count at a strategic Big results 7moment and ask questions. The goal is not just practice rote counting, but to engage the children in reasoning, predicting and justifying.

Number Talks

Big results 9Conversations with the whole class that are usually about 5 – 10 minutes in Big results 8length.

  • Intended to help develop conceptual understanding and efficiency with number.
  • The teacher presents a mental math problem.
  • Students are asked to think about the problem and then share solutions and explain thinking.
  • The teacher acts as a facilitator to guide the conversation.

Number Lines

  • Numbers are represented as points and distance on a line.
  • They provide representation of the relationships of number and the spatial sense of quantities and magnitude.
  • Teachers use number lines to represent numbers and support reasoning about them.
  • Open number lines provide flexibility in thinking. Students are asked where they might place a number in relationship to another number.
  • Open number lines are also used to help students add and subtract numbers and demonstrate their reasoning.Big results 10

Which One Doesn’t Belong – wodb.ca (see examples on this website)

  • Students are presented with four different numbers, objects or shapes (that are alike and different in many ways)
  • Questions are asked:
    • What do you notice?Big results 11
    • What makes all the items alike?
    • What makes them different?
    • Which one doesn’t belong?
  • Students explain and justify their choice

Each of these routines only take a small amount of time but when used consistently…they will help to build your students’ understanding, confidence and ability to communicate their thinking. Are your students able to make connections, communicate their thinking and see themselves as competent and confidence mathematicians?

Please see the PowerPoint presentation and resources connected to this post on the Big Results in a Small Amount of Time page for more examples and clarification.

Take the time out of your day to use one of these 5 routines and let me know how it goes!

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What Really Counts?

In April I was extremely lucky to attend the NCTM conference in Boston Massachusetts. I listened to a fabulous session titled ‘Counting Matters: Why We Should Pay More Attention to Counting’. The presenters (Elham Kazemi, Allison Hintz, Kassia Omohundro Wedekind, Teresa Lind, and Angela Chan Turrou) were so enthusiastic and engaging. I knew I had to return to my district and try some of the routines presented from Jessica Shumway’s book ‘Number Sense Routines’.

With great excitement I collected materials and ventured out to several schools to try out my new discoveries. Thanks to all my wonderful colleagues (Sarah Schnare, Carrie Donahue, Cara Johns, and Amanda Crawford) for sharing their students with us. My wonderful friend and ‘partner in crime’, Lillah Martin, joined me on the journey. We learned so much from the students that we needed to share the experience with others.

On May 12 an amazing group of around 80 teachers met and uncovered the power of two ‘counting routines’ in the Primary classrooms (counting collections and choral counting). I am always astonished by the devotion of teachers who attend after school workshops. The group explored counting collections, and choral counting while making connections to important math concepts and seeking out patterns.

Learning to count while simultaneously developing a sense of quantities and number relationships is an important foundation for students. Counting is more than repeating a rote sequence and recognizing the numerals. Counting has proven to be important to lay the foundation for understanding of the base-ten system, operating on numbers and problem solving. When students develop competence, they not only count with accuracy and ease, but will also develop the sense of the quantity of numbers they are working with. The focus moves from knowing the number they landed on to making reasonable estimated and noting the reasonableness of the outcome of the counting.

I challenge you to try out these routines with your students to uncover the important math concepts and rediscover the joy of counting.

Please check out this link http://tedd.org/ for additional information. Again, thanks for the amazing presenters and Twitter friends of the NCTM Boston session.

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Basic to the Basic ~ A Better Way – Part 2

Report cards, snow, flu and tired bodies didn’t stop over 50 teachers from attending the second part of ‘Back to the Basics’.  It always amazes me that these dedicated teachers attend after school workshops to network, share and learn together.  Thank you all for caring so much about your students and helping them to make sense of mathematics.  We all agreed that we want our students to understand the basic addition and subtraction facts by applying strategies that make sense.  Please continue the conversations and building the important foundation with our young learners.

part 2

Seasonal Centre Fun

One of the most frequent requests I get asked in my job is “Do you have an ideas for Literacy/Numeracy centres?” Teachers are often looking for ideas to incorporate into their balanced Literacy and Numeracy programs.  When setting up Literacy or Numeracy centres the focus should be on providing opportunities for children to explore and develop understanding with concepts that have already been introduced.  Students should be given choices of tasks that will enable them to solve problems, use reasoning skills and communicate their understanding.

Centres can provide a wonderful mean to differentiate instruction for our students.  ‘One size does not fit all!’ is one of my important messages these days.  Students have different learning styles, interests, personalities and needs.

As a result of these requests, I have developed ‘seasonal’ Numeracy and Literacy centres.  Since the last 6 years of my career I have focused on Numeracy, I was able to create kits for three seasons (Falling into Math K -2 Winter Math Fun K- 2, Spring into Math K – 2, and Sliding Into Math- Building Fluency Games).  So far for Literacy I have created Winter Literacy Bliss.

These centres were developed to give teachers some ideas to use in their classrooms to provide problem solving tasks, authentic practice, and assessment for learning.  When planning for Literacy or Numeracy centres, always consider the ways they will meet the needs of your students and how you will assess their learning to inform your instruction. It is not about how ‘cute’ the centres are.  Let me know what you think about the centres!

Sight Word Safari

Our Safari into Literacy continues.  Today Lillah Martin and I facilitated the next session focused on sight words with over 80 wonderful teachers.  We always admire the dedication of these teachers to attend an after school workshop to network, share ideas and take back ideas to support their students.  Sight words are one of the keys to fluency in reading and writing.  By giving children the opportunity to internalize sight words through explicit teaching and meaningful, engaging practice you are giving them the gift of reading with confidence.  With that confidence, comes the excitement of discovering the meaning of the text and the joy that books can bring. Reading sight words with fluency and ease allows our brains to ponder the more challenging words, make meaning from the text, and feel like a “reader”. Refer to the ‘Sight Word Safari’ page to explore ideas to help your students learn sight words.

Lillah and Sandra2013-01-15 16.01.26

Alphabet Adventures

Alphabet Adventures ~ A Meaningful Journey

Today Lillah Martin (Early Literacy Helping Teacher) and I went on an ‘Alphabet Adventure’ with over 80 Surrey teachers. This is the first of a series of workshops focusing on emphasizing ‘play’ as an important part of classrooms.

Somewhere along the line, the word ‘play’ was replaced with ‘work’.  There seems to be pressure for teachers to teach students how to ‘read’ at an earlier age. The focus on letter names and sounds, as well as words, has changed.  It is far too common to see students sitting at desks completing worksheets rather than playfully discovering the joys of sound-symbol relationships.

Our students need to be curious, engaged and have a love of learning that will support literacy development for a lifetime.  Research supports that students know about, and participate in, the functions of literacy long before they learn about alphabet letters and sounds.

Early learning experiences must provide a balance of play–based learning and explicit instruction.  An effective program is structured in such a way to respect the learning processes for all students and to help them reach their full potential.

Our role as a teacher is to fill the students’ lives with engaging, interactive and developmentally appropriate experiences that are both playful and purposeful.  It is time to put the ‘purposeful play’ back into our classrooms.  There are so many possible ways to fill our young learners’ literate lives with engaging, interactive and developmentally appropriate experiences with letters and words.  Many of the ideas presented at the workshop are located on the ‘Alphabet Adventures’ page.