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 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 – (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!

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.

Candy Corn

Building the Bridge – Linking Reading and Writing

The Golden Oldies are still important. Resurrecting the tools from long ago happened at our last session on April 8, 2013. The session ‘Building a Bridge ~Linking Reading and Writing’ was well attended by passionate Primary educators.  Lillah and I began our teaching using the ‘Ann Ingham’ tool sounds and their stories.  We noticed that somewhere along the journey, these valuable tools have disappeared or are often hidden in classrooms.  One teacher commented on how she felt relieved that she “doesn’t have to feel bad about using the tools with the stories” with her students.  Somehow she felt that these ‘tools and their stories’ were not seen as ‘best teaching practices’. We revived and recreated the tools to be more appealing and updated for today’s classrooms.

Students need to make connections and learn to apply ‘phonetic tools’ to their reading and writing.  Explicitly teaching these tools and allowing the students to explore, discover and make inquiries with them is required.  Our role as a teacher is to fill the students’ lives with engaging, interactive and developmentally appropriate experiences that are both playful and purposeful.  Asking students to fill in worksheets does not meet the criteria.  Searching for words, applying the tools, and authentic practice ways allows students to make connections.

Research supports that reading and writing are different processes that share a reciprocal relationship.  Understanding this will allow us to scaffold and differentiate our instruction for our learners.  By providing them with the right ‘tools’ they will ensure what they read and write makes sense, sounds read and looks right.

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!