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)
• Questions are asked:
• 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.

Daily Math Investigations Part 2

Daily Math Investigations Part 2 took place in Surrey on November 21, 2013.  Around 70 dedicated teachers left their classrooms and report card writing (some very eager for a break) to explore, discover, share and network together.

If you’d like to get a copy of “Daily Math Investigations’, please go to Carole Fullerton’s blog, http://mindfull.wordpress.com/

The focus of the session was on ‘Rich Routines’ from Daily Math Investigations.

Rich Routines are:

open-ended thinking tasks done in larger groups

more structured, but not boring

concepts worth revisiting

increase in complexity as they are explored over and over

active and engaging for all students

Rich Routines are questions/investigations posed during a whole group time.  We have suggested a variety of routines that are predictable in nature but are engaging and open-ended enough to meet the needs of all the students. Here are some of the routines we discussed from the resource:

• All About Number
• Cuisenaire Investigations
• Exploring the Open Number Line
• Exploring the 100’s chart
• Numbers of the Day
• Counting Collections
• Messing with Data
• Sort it Out
• Teeter Totter Tales

Check out the new Entry Tasks that were introduced at yesterday’s session.
Many of the tasks were taken from the Numeracy Centre Fun section of the blog.

Enjoy and remember to …

Get them engaged

Get them thinking

Get them reasoning

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.

Number Talks – Big Results in a Small Amount of Time

I am always amazed at the dedication teachers have to attend after school workshops to explore ways to support their students.  Over 90 wonderful teachers gathered together to learn about ‘Number Talks’ on September 26, 2013.

Number Talks is one of the powerful vehicles for helping students to reason with numbers and build a solid foundation for algebraic thinking.  Teaching mathematics as a sense-making process is important for students to understand the math they are doing.  Number Talks is a daily whole group activity that takes 5 – 10 minutes which involves the solving of mental math tasks.   They promote flexibility with numbers, shared learning and increased confidence.  The purpose of Number Talks is to help students develop computational fluency, as well as number sense. We discussed ways to incorporate Number Talks into classrooms and get ‘big results for a small amount of time’ for students.  Please view the presentation and attached resources to gain more information about this simple activity to include in your daily routines.

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!