The “Why” and the “How” of Using Math Tools

shapesRecently, I spent a day with K-6 teachers exploring the why and how of using math tools in their classrooms.

The “why” is easy!  Years of research indicate students gain deeper conceptual understanding when they have teachers who engage in specific instructional practices.  The recommendations form NCTM’s Principles and Standards for School Mathematics suggest that teachers employ 8 specific instructional practices.  They include:
A Problem Solving approach
Children are Active Learners  in the classroom
The use of Concrete materials
Cooperative work in small groups
Discussion of ideas
Justification of thinking
Writing in class lessons
On-going assessment
The common core state standards were born out of this type of  research and the 8 mathematical practices were framed around these ideas and the Strands of Mathematical Proficiency from the National Research Council.

The “How” of using math takes more time. Read more ›

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“Core” Ideas to Follow

When looking for math activities, information, or new ideas  I have a few “core” people I follow.

Here is the short list: Read more ›

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Write? That’s Right!

images-1Most of you know me as the math girl and that is absolutely true, but….before I was the math girl, I was the word girl.  I like to joke that I am a word”smith” but it isn’t a joke. I really am.  I often introduce myself to new teachers by telling them that my plans for life included becoming a noted children’s book author but (as I point upward) someone up there had a sense of humor and made me a math teacher instead.  I usually do that to let them know that even if we don’t start out believing math is our favorite subject, we can get better at it and, in my case, come to find it is our favorite thing to teach. Read more ›

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Students Engaged in Math Workstations

Kindergarten addition workstation

Kindergarten addition workstation

Kindergarten shape sort

Kindergarten shape sort

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Is Faster Really Better?

7644044“It’s not complicated, faster is better!”  If you believe the AT&T commercials faster is always better and for years we have taught math using that same theory!  We taught procedures and gave daily timed math facts tests to ensure students would become faster and faster at “doing” math.   We celebrated two things; the correct answer and arriving at it quickly or automatically.  Through our efforts a small segment of our population was congratulated and made to believe they were our best and brightest.  They were true mathematicians!  But for a much larger group of people we proved just the opposite. The message was sent; you either were a mathematician or you weren’t. Read more ›

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Attending Dan Meyer Workshop

Dan Meyer workshop

Attending Dan Meyer workshop at ESSDACK! Great day with a great group of educators.

 

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CGI and the Common Core: How Do They Connect

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Recently I attended the  Kansas Association of Teachers of Mathematics Conference. While at KATM, I presented Cognitively Guided Instruction and the Common Core: How do they Connect?  I began the discussion with background information on CGI.  Cognitively Guided Instruction is a research-based instructional strategy developed by Thomas Carpenter, Elizabeth Fennema, Linda Levi and others in the late 1980s. It was funded by the National Science Foundation and the work occurred at the University of Wisconsin at Madison
The premise of CGI Read more ›

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Calculators or No Calculators: That is the Question

I was recently contacted by an instructional coach from a school district where I work regularly.  She and her teachers were working on math units aligned to common core.  They were trying to determine whether students should be allowed to use calculators during instruction and whether they would be allowed to use them on the new state assessments.

Her question was a valid one in light of Common Core Mathematical Practice Standard#5: Using Appropriate Tools Strategically.  As math educators we want students to determine when they need a tool to solve math problems and which tool is best suited to the task.  If the focus of instruction is computation or basic level fact knowledge, then a calculator Read more ›

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Working on Number Sense Assessment

Renee administering Number Sense Assessment

Unitizing

relationships 1

Keeping Track

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Common Core Math: How “Deep” Do We Go

Canyons_wallpapers_14Rigor is a word receiving a lot of attention in regards to the common core state standards. So what does it mean in terms of teaching and learning? The 8 mathematical practices and the college and career readiness standards give us a look at what rigor refers to. Students should be challenged to solve rich, relevant problems that require effort and persistence. Problems should have multiple entry points and multiple solution paths and strategies.(M.P.1) Students should be encouraged to reason, explain, and make sense of their learning. (M.P.2)(M.P.3) Students will demonstrate independence and take responsibility for their own learning. Teachers will need to consider rigor when planning their units and lessons. Concepts should be introduced in contexts that are interesting and motivating to students and students will explore and discover solutions in their own ways. Tasks will build off prior knowledge and will not focus on just one Read more ›

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Karen Tharnu – St. Joseph, MO

I love the Math Snack podcast. What a wonderful way to initiate all teachers into the different strategies of how…
2014-02-24T17:15:39+00:00
I love the Math Snack podcast. What a wonderful way to initiate all teachers into the different strategies of how to do a problem other than the traditional algorithm. All of the podcast lay out the conceptual understanding and how

Jennifer Hanson – Liberal, KS

Today’s in-service with Reneé Smith of Essdack was informative. In her presentation, she gave us many strategies (games, activities) to…
2014-02-24T17:18:13+00:00
Today’s in-service with Reneé Smith of Essdack was informative. In her presentation, she gave us many strategies (games, activities) to teach math in the primary grades while weaving common core information and sharing tips for identifying students who might not

Vonda Franklin – Fourth Grade Teacher – Spalding Elementary

Hello.  I loved your presentation at NCTM conference in Albuquerque.  I have downloaded some of your games from your site.…
2014-02-24T17:22:48+00:00
Hello.  I loved your presentation at NCTM conference in Albuquerque.  I have downloaded some of your games from your site. Thank you.

Margie Eck – Junior High Math Teacher – Barber County North

Dear Renee, I just wanted to thank you for the excellent CGI workshop.  I told my principal this morning that…
2014-02-24T17:24:30+00:00
Dear Renee, I just wanted to thank you for the excellent CGI workshop.  I told my principal this morning that your workshop was the best one I have attended in the past 5 years.  You were prepared, organized, and most

Kara Warren – Graber Elementary

First off, thank you for teaching me this! My kids love it and are really making the connections to the…
2014-02-24T17:25:50+00:00
First off, thank you for teaching me this! My kids love it and are really making the connections to the algebra! I have seen the light bulb come on for so many of them!

Lyles Lashley – St Joseph Catholic School – Ellinwood

In my 15 plus years of teaching, I have always dreaded workshops.  Grab ‘Em with Games is by far the…
2014-02-24T17:27:56+00:00
In my 15 plus years of teaching, I have always dreaded workshops.  Grab ‘Em with Games is by far the best workshop I have ever been to.  Not only did the games improve my students math skills, but some of

Vernetta Hammersmith – usd481

Hi! I have used the games over and over. I love them!!! Most of the kids like them – others…
2014-02-24T17:30:13+00:00
Hi! I have used the games over and over. I love them!!! Most of the kids like them – others – well it is still math!!!!   This year I got out “Metric Madness” for my 6th graders – they

Penny Schuckman – usd 261

Last year you came to Haysville and did your Grab’em With Games workshop.  It was such a hit that many…
2014-02-24T17:32:54+00:00
Last year you came to Haysville and did your Grab’em With Games workshop.  It was such a hit that many have requested your Day 2!

Julie Bruington – Tri-County Interlocal 607

Everyone I’ve talked to has told how absolutely wonderful these sessions were.  I thank you for all your hard work. …
2014-02-24T17:34:25+00:00
Everyone I’ve talked to has told how absolutely wonderful these sessions were.  I thank you for all your hard work.  I will certainly keep you in mind for future trainings.