Thursday, July 30, 2015

Building Mathematical Comprehension Chapters 5 and 6 and New Technology Tools

Hey everyone!

Here are my recaps/important tidbits from Building Mathematical Comprehension by Laney Sammons.  I've also incorporated the use of some technology pieces to change things up a bit.

Chapter 5: The Importance of Visualizing Mathematical Ideas (using Popplet)

First of all, I learned something new about Popplet today.  It really doesn't work using Safari.  You are much better off using Google Chrome.  :-)  As you can see, you can make a graphic organizer with text and pictures.  I've used this to teach various reading strategies in class before.  Have you used Popplet?  What's one way you might use it in your class this year?

Chapter 6: Making Inferences and Predictions (using Haiku Deck):

I've heard of Haiku Deck before, but never really tried it out.  I know that their thing is using small amounts of text to create presentations (hence, the haiku :-) ).  After trying it out, I must say, it's incredibly easy to use, and I really like it.

Building Mathematical Comprehension Chapter 6: Making Inferences and Predictions - Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

I'll be back soon with some more GoNoodle (I know, I promised this awhile ago), Building Mathematical Comprehension, back to school stuff, and maybe even more.  

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Thinglink and Open House

Hey guys!!!

I have been inspired by Sabra over at Teaching with a Touch of Twang after reading her post about Thinglink and her plans for an interactive Open House for her students.  (Of course, I was also inspired by The Tonight Show-Top 10 was David Letterman's trademark segment, so I went vintage Tonight Show this time.)

So, I created my Thinglink for Meet the Teacher night to allow my students a fun way to see into our year.

I have not had my students make their own Thinglinks yet (but that's definitely on this year's to-do list).  I'm so excited my district is purchasing more technology for our classrooms, making it possible for each pair of students in my classroom to have a device!  In the past, I have mostly used Thinglink to collect unit resources in one place (here's a link to a post I did about my most popular Thinglink that contains resources for teaching science safety).  Have you used Thinglink before?  What's your favorite way to use it?

Monday, July 20, 2015

Building Mathematical Comprehension Chapters 3 and 4

Hey everyone!

I'm back with some thoughts about Building Mathematical Comprehension chapters 3 (Making Mathematical Connections) and 4(Increasing Comprehension by Asking Questions).   I'm going to just do this wrap-up really quick for each chapter.

Chapter 3:

3 Types of Mathematical Connections:
  1. Math-to-Self- connections between own life experiences and mathematics
  2. Math-to-Math- connections between past and present studies of math
  3. Math-to-World- connections between math and our world

2 Math Stretches to Encourage Making Connections:
  1. How Did My Family Use Math Last Night?-making connections is explicitly taught and immediately applied by students.
  2. _________ Makes Me Think of...- students practice making relevant math-to-self, math-to-math, and math-to-world connections.  

One Major Take-Away/Point Summing It All Up:

This quote from the beginning of the chapter really sums up the importance of this strategy in mathematics:
"People are wired to search for ways to connect the new with the familiar...In the same way, learning is intimately linked to the connections we make between our prior knowledge and our new experiences.  Prior knowledge or experiences help learners interpret and construct meaning from newly introduced ideas or concepts" (p. 85)
Chapter 4:

3 Ways to Classify Questions:
  1. Right There: These are literal, easy-to-answer questions, that can usually be answered from one line of text.
  2. Think and Search: These are found within the text, but with a bit more work than the right there questions.  Requires thinking, searching, and more than one line of text to answer.  
  3. On My Own: These questions are not easily answered from the text and instead require the reader/mathematician to make an inference.  
2 Things to Incorporate into Math Journals:

I currently use my math journals for daily problem solving or whole-group problem practice outside of our math workbooks.  Here are 2 things that I want to incorporate in my journals this year (along with vocabulary work, as described in chapter 2):

1) Question Journals- these provide a way for students to keep track of their questions.  Rather than devoting an entire journal to them, I want to incorporate them into one math journal.  Question Journals include this information: 

Before, During, or After?
Predicted Answer
Final Answer

(did the question arise before, during, or after the math task)
Record possible answers/make predictions

2) Question Webs- For those of you that use Thinking Maps, this is essentially a detailed bubble map, with the question recorded in a center circle (ex. in the book, they ask Why do we have standard units of measure?, p. 137).  Branching out from the circle are various potential answers to the question.  Finally, the student's definitive answer to the question is recorded at the bottom of the page.

1 Major Take-Away/Point Summing it All Up: 

Per Sammons (p. 119), "As students read about mathematical concepts or problems, the generation of authentic questions about the subject matter leads to deeper understanding and retention."

As I'm getting into this book, I'm really beginning to see how a few small adjustments can help me marshal my reading comprehension toolbox of strategies to maximize math achievement and transform math instruction in my classroom this year.  I can't wait to get started!  

I'll be back soon with more about GoNoodle and Building Mathematical Comprehension

Until next time!

Friday, July 17, 2015

GoNoodle and Koo Koo Kanga Roo!

I have been using GoNoodle for several years now, as have many other bloggers out there.  I love it SO MUCH!!!  It seems to get better and better all the time.  Anyway, I thought that it was finally time that I shared that love on my blog.  Look over to the right and you will find my new "I'm a Blogger Who Brain Breaks!" icon. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------>

I've also included it here since it is just adorable:

GoNoodle Inspiration Blog

For those of you that aren't familiar, GoNoodle is a FREE brain breaks site.  (Yes, 100% free!)  They have a variety of brain breaks for any occasion you might encounter in the classroom.  They inject energy, harness focus, and promote positive attitudes/feelings.  When I first started with GoNoodle, this was pretty much where I was in my knowledge and experience with it:

This picture also gives you a good view of the site.  Once you login and select your class (you can set up multiple), here is what you'll see.  Your champ (the cute guy in the middle, chosen by you/your class) always has something to say.  If you click on his speech bubble you can toggle back and forth between what he has to say as well as a meter showing exercise minutes and progress toward the next level.  

You can get to the brain breaks by clicking on the large green PLAY button on the right or navigating along the top.  Explore is a new feature, explained here on the GoNoodle blog, that as they say, "highlights new and relevant GoNoodle activities."  Next up is the Channels button which organizes content by its' creator (ex. my favorite Channel is the Koo Koo Kanga Roo channel-more on this in a second).  

You can use the Categories button to explore brain breaks by type/mood/feeling.  For example, the Koo Koo Kanga Roo brain breaks are mostly classified as Guided Dancing.  You can save your favorites and easily navigate to them here, find brain breaks for stretching, deep breathing, free movement, and more.  There is also a search feature to help you quickly navigate to specific brain breaks.  GoNoodle has really expanded what they offer in the past few years, and I don't think that one post could possibly do it justice.  I'm going to stop here and focus on one of my favorite parts of GoNoodle in the rest of this post.  

Okay, back to Koo Koo Kanga Roo.  Koo Koo Kanga Roo is a group of 2 guys, Bryan and Neil.  They make silly dance videos that are huge crowd pleasers for the young and the young at heart.  Here's a selection of their GoNoodle channel, featuring a few of their videos.  Pop See Ko and Roller Coaster are two of our favorites.  My class also sings Birthday Hooray for student birthdays.     

Anyway, I hope I've convinced you how wonderful Koo Koo Kanga Roo is.  I think the only way I could love them more is if they came to my classroom for awhile.  Anybody know them and can put in a good word for me?  ;-)  (P.S. I'd be equally excited to receive a visit from GoNoodle like this:)


In my next few posts, I want to talk about Camp GoNoodle, the My Questions feature, and the YouTube channel on GoNoodle.  Have I convinced you that you need to sign up?  Remember, it's free.  For new sign ups, please use any of my GoNoodle links included throughout this post.  If I get 5 people to sign up and try it out, I earn some GoNoodle swag (and you can, too!).  So, what are you waiting for?  Go sign up right now!  I have to go Pop See Ko.  :-)  

Until next time,   

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Building Mathematical Comprehension Chapter 2: Recognizing and Understanding Mathematical Vocabulary

            Hey everyone!  I’m back to link up with the Laney Sammons book study, Building Mathematical Comprehension hosted by A Teacher Mom.  Here are some of the key points that stood out to me in her 2nd chapter about math vocabulary.

            Vocabulary is defined as a “sum or stock of words employed by a language, group, individual, or work or in a field of knowledge” (p. 45).  I enjoyed Sammons’ point that when it comes to content area vocabulary, we should consider all of our students to be mathematics language learners (MLLs?).  She also validated what I have always known as a teacher of ELLs: “the vocabulary deficits of students have an enormous impact on their mathematics achievement” (p. 48).  Finally, a reason committed to print as to why ELLs seem to struggle so greatly in math! 

            This chapter presents several ways to engage students in learning mathematical vocabulary, including:
·      Encouraging Parental Involvement
·      Mathematical Discourse (creating a classroom environment full of math talk)
·      Mathematical Writing to Reinforce Vocabulary Knowledge
·      Mathematics Word Walls
·      Graphic Organizers
·      Games and Other Learning Activities

I really liked the ideas presented in this chapter about mathematical writing, of course utilizing the appropriate math vocabulary.  Students can be asked to:
  •  describe their knowledge of a particular math concept
  • list the steps in a problem-solving process
  • explain the strategy used to solve a problem
  • justify their mathematical reasoning
  • reflect on their learning
  • take notes
  • define mathematical terms or symbols

The last idea seems like a great way to practice math vocabulary without dedicating an entire journal to it.  It can be stored in an interactive math journal that contains ample examples of student problem-solving as well as important math notes and examples.    

            As far as graphic organizers go, I use them across content areas, but after reading this chapter, I’m going to try to incorporate them more often in math (the subject where I currently use them least often).  I think this would be a great tool to help students understand math vocabulary and how math concepts are related.

            This chapter also exposed me to some new, low-prep games.  Have you heard of Make My Day?  It’s a lot like I Have, Who Has, but the cards are not linked to each other.  The teacher facilitates asking for matches of certain cards.  I liked the idea of using this as a way to practice math facts.  Also, Talk A Mile A Minute was a game that sounds a lot like Catchphrase.  If only we could all get Jimmy Fallon to come to our classrooms and play a game with us, right?!

            I’ll be back soon to join the discussion on Chapter 3: Making Mathematical Connections.  And now, since I have Jimmy Fallon and Catchphrase on the brain, I’ll leave you with a fun video clip.  Enjoy your week!


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Building Mathematical Comprehension Summer Book Study (Chapter 1)

I’m ba-ack!  A rough year makes for a terrible blogger, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.  I’m thrilled to report that I’ve moved on, I’m happy to be back, and I’m getting ready for what I hope will be a terrific school year. 

I have been enjoying summer immensely as it has allowed me to catch up on my reading.  I’ve been reading both for pleasure and professional development.  I thought I’d take this opportunity to join in on a blogging book study (late to the party, of course J) and link up with A Teacher Mom. 

I have just finished reading the first chapter of Laney Sammons’ book Building Mathematical Comprehension.  Math literacy is at the heart of this book, and it is defined by OECD (the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) as:

“an individual’s capacity to identify and understand the role that mathematics plays in the world, to make well-founded judgments, and to use and engage with mathematics in ways that meet the needs of that individual’s life as a constructive, concerned and reflective citizen” (p. 19).

Sammons contends that the skills necessary to be literate in reading are the same skills that pave the way to math success.  She demonstrates these similarities for us as readers in her book on page 22 (reproduced here for your convenience). 

Characteristics of Good Readers
Characteristics of Good Mathematicians
They call upon their prior knowledge to make meaning from text.
They call upon prior knowledge to understand concepts and solve problems.
They are fluent readers.
They are procedurally fluent.
They have a mental image of what they are reading.
They create multiple representations of mathematics concepts and problems.
They use multiple strategies to understand and interpret text.
They use multiple strategies to understand concepts and solve problems.
They monitor their understanding as they read.
They monitor their understanding as they solve problems.
They can clearly explain their interpretation of the text to others.
They can clearly explain their mathematical thinking to others.

According to Sammons, readers (and thus, mathematicians) draw upon four kinds of knowledge as they read, including: knowledge about text content, knowledge about text structure, pragmatic knowledge, and knowledge about the social/situational context.  I found this paragraph in the chapter particularly interesting:

            There is a widespread tendency of people to excuse a lack of success
            in mathematics because of a belief that it is a matter of inherent talent          
            rather than lack of effort.  Because of this, the National Mathematics
            Advisory Panel (2008) recommends that educational leaders help
            students and parents recognize the effect of effort on mathematics
            achievement” (p. 27).

In this chapter, Sammons previews the reading/math strategies she will discuss in the remainder of her book (adapted from Keene and Zimmerman, Mosaic of Thought, 2007):

·      Making connections
·      Asking questions
·      Visualizing
·      Making inferences
·      Determining importance
·      Synthesizing, and
·      Monitoring meaning

Sammons lays out a six-step process of explicit instruction, stating that students are much more likely to apply these comprehension strategies to mathematics if we show them exactly how to do so.  Those steps are:

1.     Teacher explains what the strategy is.
2.     Teacher explains why the strategy is important.
3.     Teacher explains when to use the strategy.
4.     Teacher models how to perform the strategy in an actual context while students observe.
5.     Teacher guides students as they practice using the strategy, and
6.     Students independently use the strategy.

After reading this first chapter, I cannot wait to really get into this book.  It is
looking like it might be a better read than I even expected.  Since I know that I will have many ELLs in my class and my campus is really focusing on academic vocabulary this year,  I am really looking forward to reading the second chapter, “Recognizing and Understanding Mathematical Vocabulary.” 

            That’s it for now.  I hope to be back soon with more to share. 

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