Saturday, June 30, 2012

Guided Math Book Study Chapter 4 and My Blog's First Award!!!

Hell-oooooooooo blog world!!!  I have been a prisoner of my grad school class for the month of June.  I'm so excited about the little break I have before the second session starts up in a few weeks!!! 

First things first:

I was awarded the One Lovely Blog award by Where Seconds Count

As I said, I was given this award by:

Where Seconds Count

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!  :-)

Once you receive the award, you must follow 3 rules:

1. Follow the person that gave you the award

2. Link back to the person that gave you the award

3.Pass the award on to 15 new bloggers

I have chosen the following blogs to award:

1) What the Teacher Wants

2) Thinking of Teaching

3) The Teacher Wife

4) Teaching in Flip Flops

5) Sweet Seconds

6) Step Into 2nd Grade with Mrs. Lemons

7) Primary Graffiti

8) Pitner's Potpourri

9) One Extra Degree

10) My Second Grade Journal

11) Mrs. Freshwater's Class

12) Lory's Page

13) Hopelessly Devoted to Teaching

14) First Grade Glitter and Giggles

15) Create●Teach●Share

Now on to Guided Math Chapter 4!!! 

This chapter was all about whole class implementation of Guided Math.  Here are my thougthts:

1) Whole class instruction is certainly appropriate in some situations.  Those include: mini-lessons (another link I saw to reading instruction!!!), activating strategies, math read alouds (this is something I'd like to incorporate more), setting the stage for math workshop, Math Huddles, practice and review, and formal testing/assessment.  As I implemented the Daily 5 in reading last year, I can certainly attest to the importance of setting up routines, and in this case, setting the stage for math workshop.

2) I think the biggest challenge that Sammons mentions with regard to whole group instruction is the inability to provide timely and appropriate feedback.  This is SO, SO important for your struggling learners.  The danger here is allowing students to incorrectly learn and reinforce this.  Very difficult to undo once it has been cemented. 

3) I'm so glad that Sammons provides us with the sample architecture of a mini-lesson.  I can't wait to try it out!

4) With regard to activating strategies, I have a confession to make.  With KWL charts I have used, of course I had students fill out the "L" column stating what they have learned.  HOWEVER, I never had them revise what they thought they knew.  BAD TEACHER!!!  This was such a "Duh!" moment for me.  I'm a bit ashamed. 

5) As my district moves from Envision to Investigations, I'm excited to adapt the KWL charts for problem solving as Sammons suggests (p. 119). 

6) I'm not sure what I think about Word Splashes yet.  I am willing to give it a try, and I think it will really work well with Thinking Maps, which my school has adopted for the coming school year.  What do you think about this strategy?  Will you try it with your students?

I need to get reading Chapter 5 (remember a few posts ago, when I detailed the saga of my defective book that was missing 30 pages?).  Anyway, Laney Sammons came to my rescue and sent me a new book, so I'm good to go.  I can't wait to catch up on the book study. 

Until next time,

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Guided Math Study Chapter 3 (a day late) :-)

Here are my thoughts on chapter 3:

1) I wish my school was open (even though grad school has me way to busy to visit), so that I could use pictures of my own classroom instead of Google images.

2) Now for the book chapter: I'm so loving this book study because it is giving me lots of ideas.  Our math curriculum is changing this year, and until I attend training on it in July, I'm COMPLETELY in the dark about Investigations.  Does anybody use this for math?  Do you have any information to share?

3) I really want to implement math journals, and I think Math Stretches might be a good way to do so.  I am especially interested in the Number of the Day and What's Next math stretches.  I think that these are feasible and would be engaging for 2nd graders to do.

I love these composition books.  We use them for writing, but I think they'd work great for math and science too!

4) I really like how Sammons points out the relationship between discussion and writing in math, and how they are both important.  I know it will help my students to have a few minutes to write down their thoughts prior to a discussion so that they are prepared.  I think it would even be good to allow them time to talk to a partner before the whole class discusses so that they can experience and share in multiple ideas.

5) I think that the "______ Makes Me Think of..." stretch will be VERY easy to integrate with Thinking Maps (don't you agree? :-) )  What a great way to encourage making math connections/establishing relationships between math concepts.

6) I feel very good about my use of calendar time.  It teaches so many important math skills.  This is the calendar I have in my room, even though, it is not THE exact one.  This is an area I would like to grow in.  What do you include in your calendar time?

7) Final thoughts: I LOVE the idea of a problem of the day, and I hope that the Investigations curriculum lends itself to this.  Also, I like the proposed schedule of math stretches that Sammons offers (e.g. doing the same kind of stretch each weekday- What's Next on Mondays, etc.).  

I'm looking forward to practical implementation advice that will come in Guided Math's next chapters as Sammons discusses math in different groupings (Whole Class, Small Groups, etc.)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Technology in the Classroom and a Call for Help

Good morning!

     I want to share a direction my new campus is going (new-old, I'm going back to my first school).  :-)  The school has established a group for staff on Edmodo.  Several enterprising teachers have taken steps to utilize Edmodo in the classroom with their students.

     This is definitely one of my technology goals with my 2nd graders this year, but the learning curve is steep.  I do a good job of incorporating technology into my classroom already (one of my favorite tools is the student clickers from eInstruction that I check out from our campus technology resources-if anyone wants to buy me my own, I'd love to have them!  :-)  ), so this is the next logical step.  Do any of you use Edmodo in the classroom?  What do you use it for?  What other technology do you incorporate into your classroom?  I can't wait to learn from all of you!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Guided Math Book Study Update

I just wanted to stop by to share something awesome that Primary Inspired has done.  She has created a button for those of us that are participating in/otherwise interested in the book study for Guided Math.  It will take you to a page on her blog that has all of the info you need to follow/participate in the book study.  How cool!!!


Saturday, June 16, 2012

A Bump in the Blog Book Study Road

Thank goodness I'm a little intense when it comes to reading because I was able to discover a problem with my Guided Math book in plenty of time.  I was reading ahead in Guided Math, only to discover that 30! pages of my book were missing from chapter 5 (Oh no!!!).  I contacted Laney Sammons, and she has been so wonderful.  She has forwarded my message to her publisher and promised to send me a new book.  Hopefully I will have it so that I can keep up with the book study.  Anyway, she's great!

Laney Sammons- my new hero!!!
Anyway, I think that everything will be okay.  The moral of this story is to always check your books before purchase to make sure that they have all of their pages.  :-)  In the mean time, I have plenty to read to keep myself busy.  I'm reading many, many, many articles from this book as part of my grad school class:

AND, I need to take the test and get started on this book as part of my school's summer book study (that we will continue throughout the fall):

I like hard copies, I don't have a Kindle.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to all of the reading I'll be doing this summer.  I just need to get some fun "beach reads" onto my reading list.  What are you reading this summer?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Guided Math Book Study- Chapter 2 Reflection

First of all, thank you so much to those of you that are following my new blog.  I appreciate your patience and support as I learn the ropes.  One thing that I'm really enjoying about blogging is connecting with teachers and sharing ideas as part of the Guided Math book study.

With that said, here we go!  :-)  

1) The first thing that I really appreciated about this chapter was the immediate parallel that Sammons drew between guided reading and guided math.  I think that this will go along way to make teachers (myself included) feel less intimidated by guided math.  Many of the routines we already have in place for guided reading can easily be modified to be appropriate for guided math.  

2) The 7 foundational principles of a guided math classroom: All of these principles can be classified as best practices.  Students should work together, talk together, actively be involved in mathematics, and have a teacher that is ready to model, model, model.  

3) I enjoyed how Sammons addressed equity, stating that the different components of guided math help teachers to "provide scaffolding and support for all learners based on their needs" (39).  In this way, all students can be taught with equity rather than equality.  

4) I think that the importance of communication (oral and written) in math cannot be overstated.  As Sammons points out, although we realize the importance of math communication, it unfortunately has played "such a limited role in elementary-school mathematics instruction" (39).  I have only ever taught students who were learning English as a second language, so I can say with utmost confidence that achieving communication across the disciplines for these students is all about building confidence.  Students should be offered low-risk opportunities to communicate, so that they may begin to feel more and more comfortable with communicating and sharing in class.  

5) Classroom arrangement: I'm so excited to be reading this book now.  I'm one of the lucky (cursed?) teachers who keeps moving schools/classrooms, so this August, I will once again have the opportunity to build my room from scratch, arranging everything the way that I want it.  I'm making myself a mental note now to make sure that it is all set up for guided math.  Additionally, Sammons has helped me with the arrangement of my student desks.  I have always done groups in the past, but was considering rows this year (all of my teammates seat their students in rows).  I have decided to stick with groups and now I have the justification for it- yay!!!

6) A numeracy-rich environment: Wow, did this section have a lot to offer!!!  I like that Sammons teased many things that she will cover in more detail in later chapters (it just motivates me to keep. on. READING!!!).  This year is going to be a bit "funky" in math because my district is moving towards a more problem-based approach, and until I attend training on it next month, I'm completely in the dark.  I do know that many, many manipulatives will be involved, but that's pretty much it.  I would still like to do a problem of the day if I can.  I imagine that the new math curriculum will work well with math word walls, math journals, and graphic organizers.  Especially exciting, is that my district has just adopted Thinking Maps, so I know that graphic organizers can be easily incorporated into our math time.  

I feel like this blog post is just dropping off, but in closing, I'll just say that I'm looking forward to reading and discussing chapter 3.  Thanks for reading!!!


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Guided Math Book Study-Chapter One Reflection

I'm so excited to be participating in this book study (it is largely the reason that I joined the blogosphere).  I can't wait to connect with other motivated teachers.  Here are some thoughts I had as I read chapter one:

1) I wholeheartedly agree that the main problem with the old method of mathematics instruction (teacher-centered, whole group 100% of the time) is that several students were engaged in solving problems in front of the class, but the majority of the class was disengaged.  While Sammons does not directly state this, it is heavily insinuated.

2) I'm so glad that Sammons called attention to the achievement gap related to mathematics between affluent students and minority students/students living in poverty.  I saw this first hand at my school last year, and I am ready for this gap to narrow/close.

3) I like that Sammons points out that "teachers struggle to find the time to help them [struggling students]."  I know that this book will be very helpful to teachers who are struggling with finding the time to give every student what he needs, when he needs it (aren't we all?).

4) Sammons places an importance on mathematical dialogue.  I would go even further to say that students need to develop mathematical literacy.  She previews some of her math work stations in later chapters, including math journals, so I believe that she will address this issue.  I can't wait to read what she has to say about it.  I know that this is important not only for our English Language Learners, but all of our students.

5) At this point, as Sammons has previewed her model and all of its components, I am reminded of what I know of The Daily 5 and the CAFE framework.  Both have components of whole group (I'm glad that Sammons asserts that whole group instruction still has its place, but cannot be the only method of math instruction), guided instruction, small groups for stations, as well as individual conferences.

In summary, I'm so glad that I decided to pick up a copy of this book and participate in this book study. The first chapter teases many great things to come in the remainder of the book.  I'm particularly looking forward to chapter 3.  Since I have taught older grades in the past, calendar math is somewhat new to me (I'll be teaching 2nd grade this year).  What do you include in your calendar math?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Okay, I'm not even ashamed to admit it...I am ADDICTED to Pinterest (aren't we all?).  Especially dangerous because although I'm an elementary school teacher by day, I'm a grad school student by night (and pretty much every other time, including summer).  I had seen the teacher toolbox on some blogs as well as Pinterest.  Last Saturday, I finally broke down and made it, and I'm so happy with the result.  I think this will help me go "deskless" this year.  I realized that I only used my desk last year to store school supplies, so I hope to go for it this year with my small group table and some organization. I'll let you know how it goes. :-)  I'm already looking for my next Pinterest, classroom craft project.  Suggestions, anyone?  

I finally did it!!!


I have been blog-stalking for years now, and the time has finally come.  I have joined the blogging world so that I may better connect with the fabulous teachers out there.  I will be entering my fourth year of teaching in a North Texas school district.  My first two years were spent as an elementary ESL teacher.  Last year, I taught bilingual 3rd grade at a different school in the district.  This year, I head back to my first school to teach 2nd grade, and I could not be more excited.  I'm looking forward to connecting with many to share ideas, participate in book studies, and much more!

Until next time,

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