Sunday, June 30, 2013

Lovin BlogLovin

Google Reader is shutting down tomorrow and I am sure by now that this isn't news to anyone who follows blogs by now....BUT,

I did want to make sure that you knew that Thinking of Teaching can now be found on BlogLovin as well. Follow me there!

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Friday, June 28, 2013

Chapter 4- Building Mathematical Comprehension

Chapter 4- Increasing Comprehension by Asking Questions

Head on over the check out the posts by this chapter's hosts!
I am excited to read more of this great book and all of your thoughts.

Curls and a Smile

Keep on linking up with your own ideas!

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Here's the schedule for our upcoming chapters. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Making Mathematical Connections- Chapter 3

I'm a little late to the party this week but I promise you it's for all good reasons...

1. The heat! Oh my goodness, my portable was 89 degrees at 8 am one day.
2. I am still teaching. Yes, at the end of June. No, it's not fun.
3. We are moving to a new house tomorrow and I am packing as well.
4. I'm pregnant and just like to sit down and watch TV at the end of the day! LOL

But, this is more day and then- FREEDOM!!!

Chapter 3- Making Mathematical Connections

This was another HUGE chapter. So many great ideas and so much to think about.

Here are some things that really stood out for me:

- it's important to integrate the Math strands to help students see the connections between the Math concepts and their own lives
- I would like to create a checklist to help me track my student's connections during class discussions, perhaps with a space for anecdotals?
- students need to be guided towards "assuming the responsibility of constructing their own understanding of mathematics" (page 87)
- there are 3 types of prior knowledge- attitudes, experiences and knowledge (this was an interesting part of the chapter, I enjoyed it)
- I love the idea of using current events and taping into my students ability to make math-to-world connections, this is definitely going to be a focus for me in my future math program
- planning is key when modeling and doing a think-aloud for the class, I hope to create a script/template to help myself plan and get better at this
- I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the one-minute schema determiner (page 98), how powerful!
- I need to use How Did My Family Use Math Last Night? as a more regular stretch, I dropped the ball on that this year
- back to the current events math- this would be a great place to integrate media into my class and cover 2 curriculums at's all about integration!
- on page 104-105 Sammons talks about anchor charts and previewing a concept- I already do this!! Yeah!!
- I'm going to use the example from page 106-107 to help create my script/template
- I need more pictures books that relate to Math

Okay!! I did it. Loving this book.

What were your stand out moments?

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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Building Mathematical Comprehension- Chapter 3

Today is PACKING DAY!!! We have dropped our daughter off at my sister's house and we are packing everything. We move in 6 days....on the last day of school. CRAZY.

So, I plan to post about chapter 3 in a day or 2 but until then we have some great hosts that are taking the book study and running with it. I hope you head on over to check out their posts and then link up yourself.

The Chapter 3 Hosts

Sabra has a freebie too!

Miss Nguyen's Class
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Friday, June 21, 2013

Building Mathematical Comprehension Chapter 2- Part 2

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I know that Chapter 3 starts today but I have some more thoughts on Chapter 2 that I want to share and I've been trying to get back to post all week long! To give you an idea of how my life is going lately here's some numbers:

20 weeks pregnant
9th classroom in 10 years (!)
7 days until we move to our new house
4 school days left
1st ultrasound on Monday

Needless to say, sleep has become my best friend. As soon as I sit down in the evening, I'm done for.

So before you head over to start reading about Chapter 3, I have some things to share.

Choosing Mathematical Terms to Teach

This is a tough one! There are so many good words to know. Important words! Fun words! I like that Sammons quotes Duffy on page 55 and talks about the difference between content words and function words. We have a mental picture for content words and function words serve a grammatical purpose. There are three types of words we should focus on teaching (pages 56-57):
1. Words students that students already have in their oral vocabularies
2. Words that are not in the student's oral vocabularies but are somewhat familiar
3. Words that relate to new concepts

I am interested in putting together a list of words according to my province's curriculum and then seeing how it relates to the common core? Perhaps we are focusing on different things? Similar? It would be interesting for sure.
Engaging Students in Learning Mathematical Vocabulary

Sammons quotes Murray on page 59 and makes the point that vocabulary shouldn't be viewed as some more to teach but as a way to teach. That's an interesting idea. In my class I try to include as much mathematical discourse as possible and strive to have my students use the correct math vocabulary in their discussions. By including more explicit vocabulary instruction in the future, this can only improve my student's ability to speak using mathematical terms and words. 

Mathematical Writing to Reinforce Vocabulary Knowledge
It is definitely a goal of mine to have my students write more about their math learning. It's such a strong way to have students use the vocabulary that they know and to assess their understanding of a math concept. 

I started Math Journals this year and we did some writing in their but a lot of the time they were used for examples, lessons and diagrams. I planned to include a vocabulary section but like with other things, the time got away from me. I am wondering if I should keep the math vocabulary as part of our Math Journals in the future or just have a vocabulary journal and use it for all sorts of vocabulary with an emphasis on Math words? Hmmmm, something to consider.  I'm thinking of a vocabulary notebook with  dividers for each of the different subjects?

Math Word Walls

This is something I did not do enough this year. I would like to organize my word wall by math strand and hopefully, keep the words up all year long. 

Graphic Organizers

I love a Frayer model!! What a great way to organize your thought about a concept. Venn diagrams are great too. I think these two organizers will become big staples of my math program in the future. 

These Are/These Are Not is a new idea for me but I can see the possibilities of using it in a lot of different areas. 

And lastly...Games!

I got off on the right foot using a lot of games in my math class this year as I tried to implement Math Workshop. Again, the time got away from me and it became too much to keep up with as I struggled to get my feet underneath me in a new grade this year. I can definitely see the benefit of them and would like to work math vocabulary games into my future math workshop rotations. 

Okay...Chapter 3!! Here I come!

Can't wait to hear your thoughts on Chapter 2 and the chapters to, I'll have a FREEBIE for you in my Chapter 3 post. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Building Mathematical Comprehension- Chapter 2 -- PART 1

Okay, I'm back and ready to talk about Chapter 2 of this fabulous book. I'm loving it, aren't you?

If every chapter is like the first two we are going to be talking about this book for quite some time. 

I hope you've had a chance to visit the other hosts for this chapter, Still Teaching After All These Years and My Second Grade Journal. And have you seen how many people have linked up already? (Scroll to the bottom of this post!) Maybe I'll wait a day or two from now on, reading through the other's posts have really helped me cement my own ideas.

Alright, on to the chapter- Recognizing and Understanding Mathematical Vocabulary.

I have always made this a priority in my math class because when I first started teaching math not so long ago I came to it from the perspective as a literacy teacher and it helped me feel more comfortable using strategies I was familiar with...little did I know it was such a good thing!

As I started to read through this chapter the first thing that came to mind, and which actually comes to mind no matter what subject I am planning for or thinking about is- How do we help students who lack the vocabulary they need? Sammons cites many references and studies that show students with a greater vocabulary do better in school and I'm sure this isn't new information for most of us. The question is- how do we help?

Thankfully I kept reading the chapter and found out!

I especially liked on page 46 when Sammons states that "we should consider every student a mathematics language learner regardless of his or her level of English language proficiency." This is something I have noticed in my classroom firsthand. All students require support when dealing with the vocabulary that comes with learning mathematics. 

Sammons goes on to talk about Direct Vocabulary Instruction and 8 research-based characteristics! Wow..that was good reading. I am excited to start planning ways to teach more math vocabulary next year and to involve my students in the process. One of the eight research-based characteristics calls for students to "represent their knowledge of words in linguistic and nonlinguistic ways" (page 50). I can imagine a colourful display or colourful math journal pages filled with math vocabulary drawings!

Another of the eight characteristics calls for students to have the opportunity to play with words. Wouldn't this make for a great math workshop rotation? Combine Word Work from The Daily 5 with math! Oh the possibilities!!

I loved, loved, loved that Sammons discussed Marzano and Pickering's six-step process for teaching new words! (page 53). I can see that this page will be viewed again and again by me as I plan for math vocabulary instruction in the future. Perhaps a planning template is needed as well? :) I was gratified to read that sometimes it's good to teach the vocabulary after the concept has already been taught or explored in class as this is often something that I do...isn't nice when you find out you've been doing something right? LOL

Oh...there's so much in this chapter!! 
How can I ever post about it all?

I'm going to stop here and come back another day with my thoughts on the remainder of the chapter. This post is already super long and I feel like my head might explode with excitement...and yes, I do know I am a nerd. I've come to embrace it!

I am hoping that you are loving this chapter as much as I am and want to link up with us below!

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Saturday, June 15, 2013

Chapter 2- Hosts

Please visit Carol at Still Teaching After All These Years-

Still Teaching After All These Years
and Sonya from My Second Grade Journal who are also hosting Chapter 2!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

#getyourmathon Challenge!

Hello to all the Building Mathematical Comprehension book study participants! I have an Instagram or Twitter challenge for you.

Post a picture of you reading the book and answer the following question-

Do you highlight or take note IN the book? If not, how do you track your learning?

Don't forget to use the hash tag

Happy Reading! 

Grab the book study button here!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Building Mathematical Comprehension- Chapter 1

It's here!! The book study is starting!
Don't forget to use the hashtag 
for Twitter and Instagram.

I have been anxiously awaiting the start of this book study and can't wait to hear what you all think of this book. 

Brenda from Primary Inspired and I are hosting Chapter 1, so make sure you check out her post as well. 

I started peeking at Chapter 1 pretty early and immediately regretted not having a highlighter or post-it notes at home. I texted my husband and asked him to grab some on his way home! Crisis averted. LOL

As someone whose background is in literacy I can't believe that I never even thought of using the same comprehension strategies in my math lessons. The first thing that really stood out for me as I started to read through Building Mathematical Comprehension is the debate about core teachers vs. rotary teachers. It's a debate that's going strong at my school right now and one that I have changed my opinion about.

I started my career teaching only Language Arts, History and Geography and was terrified at the thought of Math. However, when I switched from Grade 8 to Grade 3 & 4 teaching rotary was no longer an option and I was faced with...Math! I must say, now I love teaching Math, I feel like I know my students so much better than I did when I taught rotary and reading this book has helped me cement my ideas on this subject. 

The BIG idea that I have come away with is that all teachers are reading teachers.

On page 22, Sammons displays a chart that shows the similarities between good readers and good mathematicians. It's very interesting to see how similar the two actions really are. I especially liked when Sammons wrote "Mathematics requires not only the construction of meaning related to mathematical concepts, but also comprehension of the written text that is so often required for problem-solving tasks." (page 23) I have found that many of my students have a great knowledge of math but when it comes to problem-solving, or communicating their thinking they stumble. (This was the focus of a 6-week intensive unit in my classroom this year that you can read about here)

I really like the idea of discussing math problems as a genre! What an amazing idea...I have also noticed the amount to which Sammons references Mosaic of Thought by Keene and Zimmermann. I have not read this book but really want to now. I think it would make for a good companion read as we work through the book study. Has anyone read it? Can they recommend it?

I also enjoyed reading about explicit instruction and modeling how to perform the strategy. I am glad that Sammons took the time to go through the steps involved in the scaffolding process because I think it's always an important reminder for us/me. I am especially bad at letting my students contribute when I am modeling and I want to make a conscious effort to get better in this area. 

Lastly, I am interested in integrating math texts into my guided reading more often. Wouldn't it be interesting to read a math problem and discuss it in a similar fashion to a narrative story? Author's purpose? Author's message? Etc

Some questions I had after reading this chapter are:

On page 26 Sammons writes that teachers should be aware of how they frame their expectations or goals for students in both reading and math but doesn't give an example of a good goal or expectation. I am wondering what one would look like? Maybe it will come up later in the chapter?

What was the most interesting part of Chapter 1 for you?

Now it's your turn. Link up below with your post about chapter 1 so we can get this book study rolling. 

Would you like to display the linky on your own blog? Grab the code!  get the InLinkz code

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Graffiti Boards- Possible End of the Year Activity

Graffiti Boards

I love this strategy and it is very simply incorporated into any subject area. I think it would make a great end of the year activity to sum up the year and really appeal to those visual learners.

A few years when I taught Grade 8, my students and I read Me to We: Finding Meaning in a Material World. There is a part where Marc Keilburger talks about going to Thailand and working in the slums. 

He learned about poverty, homelessness and child labour. He speaks about how he came with "teenage baggage" and left wiser. So as a class we brainstormed what could be described at teenage baggage and then the students graffiti-ed it on to posters. One side is "positive teenage baggage", and one side is "negative teenage baggage." After we read this section the students were given a piece of chart paper and coloured markers. I told them to create a "visual representation" of their ideas and responses. They could use words, pictures, symbols, colours, quotes anything they wanted to splash their ideas on the page. 

It's a great process to watch as they debate and attempt to choose which are the best words to describe their thoughts and ideas. They come up with great symbols and really powerful words to describe their thinking. I usually have them present their graffiti to the class as well so that the other students can see their thoughts on paper.

Here are some of the individual graffiti work that the students did after working in groups. They were asked to graffiti their own idea of teenage baggage; one side with positive baggage and the other side with negative baggage.

I have used this strategy in many lessons: as a pre-reading activity to see that they know about important themes or vocabulary, as a way to explain complex concepts from a social science lesson, and once even I had my class retell the 5 acts of MacBeth entirely in graffiti! It was awesome.

So what are some the possible uses as an end of the year activity??
- choose a picture of a school bus and have the students graffiti about their field trips they attended
- use the outline of a student and have the students splash words that show what they have learned this year
- hand out a picture of the sun and students can graffiti their summer plans
- distribute the outline of a book and students can graffiti about the best book they read this year
- you could create a very large outline  of the entire year's calendar on kraft paper and have the entire class make a graffiti board together of their favourite memories of each month

The possibilities are endless!!!

Online Resources:

Read Write Think

Random Acts of Kindness

Lesson Planet

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

And the winner is.....

The winner of my book giveaway for the book study is....

Thanks to everyone who entered!!

And here's the schedule...we start in 4 days.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Summer Bucket List

I love making lists!!!
This linky party is right up my alley...even if summer vacation is still 20 school days away. Yes, you read that right.
 20 school days left.

My Bucket List

Before the summer starts I still need to finish my reports, pack up my room (for the 6th year in a row), pack my house because we are moving ON THE LAST DAY OF SCHOOL. Arrrrgh.

Once the summer gets here I want to...

1. Unpack my house and start all my organization right off the bat. My mom is coming to spend the first week with me (thanks Mom!) so that'll help a lot.

2. Have many, many, many fun days with my daughter while she is still my only child. Being due with our second in November is a scary prospect. This is my last summer with just my baby. 

I have so so so so so many ideas for our backyard and day trips. Can't wait.

3. Plan for next year....but since I'll only be there for a few months I'm not going to knock myself out going to crazy. My bucket list school-wise will extend into my mat leave. I have sooooo many ideas for when I do go back full time. 

4. Lastly, and probably most importantly....I want to have a healthy pregnancy. I'm not sure how I feel about being pregnant in the summer. This pregnancy has been easier in some ways than my first and harder in others. I want to take the time to relax, sit back and drink some delicious mocktails!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Book Study...Button! Schedule! Hashtag! Giveaway! Oh my!

The book study is coming! I am so excited that we are going to start discussing this fabulous book in just one week. Hopefully you've had a chance to get your copy or sign up for the giveaway.

The giveaway ends in one day!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now for some news about the book study!
Here's the amazing button created by Brenda from Primary Inspired. 

Click on the image to go to my Professional Reading (Summer Book Studies) page. All information about the book study will be updated there as we go along. 
Plus, you can look back on past book studies!

We've got a dedicated group of bloggers signed up to help host the chapters as we work through the book together. The image below will take you to the google doc that has live links to  each of the hosts. Click on the picture to download the schedule so you don't miss a single minute of the action. 

For all the bloggers out there, we will be having a linky party/blog hop for each chapter during the book study so you can participate as often as you like as well. 
Post away! Link up! Create some freebies! 

If you are on Instagram or Twitter and plan to participate in the book study we would love for you to use #getyourmathon for anything  you post!

The action starts on June 8th...can't wait. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Get Your Math On! GIVEAWAY!!

Are you excited to join our new book study but haven't found the time to order your copy of Building Mathematical Comprehension by Laney Sammons?

Well, we have a giveaway for you!

Brenda, from Primary Inspired, and I will each be giving away a copy of the book to kick off our summer book study that starts on June 8th.

Enter below to win your own copy of Building Mathematical Comprehension

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We still have a few spots open for people who would like to co-host with us! Send me an email and I can hook you up. 
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