# Big Results in a Small Amount of Time

On May 17, 2016 over 150 teachers gathered to explore, discuss and make connections.  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 understanding 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:

Quick images

• Students are shown pictures displaying groups of objects or symbols, viewing each for only a few moments.
• Students are encouraged to take a ‘picture’ and 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.
• 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 moment and ask questions. The goal is not just practice rote counting, but to engage the children in reasoning, predicting and justifying.

Number Talks

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

• 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.

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)
• What do you notice?
• 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!

# 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.

# Read a Story, Explore the Math

I feel honored to have spent time with over 90 amazing Primary teachers at the BCPTA conference in beautiful Victoria B.C. on October 24, 2014. What a wonderful group of dedicated teachers who love to learn some different ways to support their learners.

Everyone loves a good story. Teachers love reading them and students love hearing them. What better way to set the stage for a math lesson. Last May 2014 Carole Fullerton and I collaborated together to create a new resource Read a Story: Explore the Math.

This resource promotes the teaching of important math concepts through the exploration of delightful children’s books. Many of these books are newly published and all have the potential for students to engage in math and provide opportunities to explore in meaningful ways.

At the conference we shared most of the books, some of the activities and tried a few for ourselves. We explored the tasks with Cuisenaire rods, dominoes, two sided counters, ten frames and dice. By using the manipulatives the students are encouraged to make connections to the concepts and represent their thinking in concrete ways.

Stories allow us a shared experiences. They engage us emotionally, and make us curious about the world. Carole and I hope that this resources will provide ideas for possibilities to pair stories with mathematical investigations that will inspire rich mathematical thinking in your students.

# 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.

# Now I Know My ABCs

blog post by Lillah Martin

This afternoon over 70 teachers gathered to hear Sandra and I talk about the basics of teaching the alphabet.  Most children come into our classrooms “knowing” the alphabet because of the ABC song, or TV shows that showcase the alphabet but they do not have an alphabet awareness that makes sense to becoming writers and readers.  We have many little learners that think “lmnop” is one “thing”!

We revisited a very old program based on Anna Ingham’s blended sight sound method, with some adaptions of our own, and shared a story for all 26 letters, that gave the explicit sound as well  the letter formation. Using this “method”, the letters are introduced in groups of 2 or 3, selected by the way they are voiced, common usage, or sometimes the shape they have.  We spent time noticing where the tongue is in relation to the roof of the mouth, or the teeth, what shape the lips take and analyzing how the sound “feels”.   Many children need to have this pointed out to them.  The letters are introduced quickly, explicitly, and with an engaging little story that the children can easily remember .

By the nature of this method, all letters are introduced within a month, left on display, referred to in meaningful ways that build connections, allowing for each learner to take their next steps in a developmentally “makes sense” way.

The “what next…” in the classroom was also shared with ideas for using children’s names, alphabet books and  embedding letters/sounds at every opportunity.  With small group explicit instruction and meaningful activities to target specific  areas you will see a joyful explosion of confident writers and readers.

The alphabet song does still have a very important place in our classroom—it should be visible in the room and sung at least 3 times a day as it lists the letters in order, is a great strategy tool for learners to go to when they are looking for a letter they need BUT every time it is sung, someone needs to be tracking and touching the letters in the song.  Sing it fast, sing it slow, sing it high, sing it low, sing it with stops at specific letters, and try to sing it using the sounds.  Play with it asking questions like “how many letters have holes in them, straight lines, or curvy lines?”  Notice which ones are tall, which ones hang down, which ones are in your name, your friends name, which ones “are easy for you” etc.  Make it so familiar that all learners feel success with the 26 keys to our language!

# Halloween Fun

With Halloween just around the corner , I stopped by the neighborhood ‘Dollarama’ to get inspiration for some Literacy and Numeracy centres.  It was amazing what I discovered.  Here are some of the materials and ideas that were generated by the Early Literacy and Numeracy teachers that I am so lucky to work with.

# The Power of Two – Linking Literature with Mathematics

My passion for wonderful picture books and excitement of teaching math in engaging, relevant ways has helped me link the power of literature with mathematics. Both Literacy and Numeracy involve the interconnection of skills and concepts, have developmental patterns of learning and focus on thinking and making sense. We want our students to comprehend when they read and to understand the math they are doing. Engaging picture books can be effective vehicles for motivating children to think and reason mathematically. Often the books can provide a starting point to introduce a new mathematical concept. By reading and acting out a story, all our learners have the opportunity to absorb the information – our auditory learners hear the story, our visual learners see the story and our kinesthetic learners can feel the story. It is all about the learners. It is still important that we provide the concrete tools for our students to explore and make their own connections using manipulatives. Good books do not replace hands-on experiences. Choose one of the books and tasks included in this presentation and discover ways that will allow all your students to build mathematical understanding and make connections to math in their world. Enjoy!