Saturday, February 23, 2013

Saturday Journal Thoughts

I wanted to take a quick second to share with you a little more about our math journals (thank you nap time).  When I created my journal prompts, I tried to think of questions where there was no right or wrong answer or what they think I want them to write.  I want to give my students an opportunity to share their thoughts without worrying about writing the correct answer.  I think that frees them up to be a little more creative and honest in their responses.  One prompt from earlier in the year was "Which Doesn't Belong:  Product, Multiply, Separate  or Group?"  My students had to circle which word didn't belong with the other three words and explain why is was different and why the other words were the same.  It was fun to see how different students chose different words, and how each student was able to support their thoughts.




I love that fact that I get a clear insight to my students' thinking with these prompts.  They allow us to have deeper classroom discussions, and I have the opportunity to see common misconceptions about different concepts and ideas.

I've been working extremely hard this year to clarify misconceptions on word problems.  As you probably already know, we do tons of word problems in my classroom.  Between my Weekly Word Problems, word problem task cards, and the word problems thrown into our math tasks, I feel very confident in my students' ability to solve word problems.  But, I'm afraid that they are relying too much on key words and not developing a deep enough understanding of WHY they should add, subtract, multiply, or divide.  The problem is especially noticeable on multistep word problems.  I've been thinking about this for awhile, but I hadn't found anything that really broke apart word problems in a way that students could understand which lead to the creation of my newest product for teaching types of story problems.


There are 19 posters for each type of word problem for addition & subtraction and multiplication & division.

There are 2 mini books where students can write their own word problems that reflect each style of word problem.  One is for addition and subtraction and the other is for multiplication and division.


For practice solving and identifying types of word problems, I've created 22 addition and subtraction and 18 multiplication and division task cards. There are two task cards for each type of story problem.

I think this is going to be a huge help in allowing my students to dig even deeper with word problems.  If you're interested in checking it out, here is a link that will take you to a preview.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Saturday Journal Thoughts

I don't know about you, but it is so hard for me to blog or do anything extra during the school week.  I have such good intentions, but I seem to run out of time everyday.  Then, when I finally have a second to sit down and write, everything that I've been wanting to share slips from my mind.  My husband's always telling me to "write it down" when an idea pops in my head, but of course I don't listen.

Anyway, I do have several math journal idas that I want to share with you, and I'm going to try my best to work that into my Saturday routine for the rest of the school year.  Today, I want to start with the one  rule that is by far the hardest for me to follow---don't focus spelling, grammar, capitalization, punctuation, etc.  That is so difficult for me.  My hand just twitches to correct those mistakes that just make me cuh-razy!  But this year, I've forced myself to let it go, and it really has made a difference in the depth of my students' thoughts.  It was almost as if my students had this huge weight lifted off their shoulders when I told them I was not checking for spelling and punctuation.  I've made a really big deal about convincing my students that these journals were THEIR journals for THEIR thoughts.  No one is going to grade the writing or the style of writing, grammar, or disagree with their opinions.  What is important is that everyone's true thoughts are written.  I feel like this has freed my students into allowing themselves to really focus on the content of their writing.  I've especially noticed this improvement with my most resistant students.  Here's an example:

At first glance, this my look like a diaster, but this was written by one of my students who entered my classroom wanting to do nothing.  Ever.  Getting anything out of this student was such a struggle.  I remember thinking that there is no way he would ever actually write in his journal without constant prompting for me, but I haven't had this problem with any of my 50 students (I teach math to two groups).  I think that this is an amazing first step, because once I can get a student going, it's much easier for me to guide them into the right direction (as well as seeing that I definitely need to add "like" to his spelling list).


On a totally different note, my students made  a quilt on some of the the different people we've learned about in social studies.  I'd disappointed that this picture didn't come out clearer, because this student did an amazing job on his Frederick Douglass quilt.  

  
Have a wonderful Saturday!


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Writing About Math

When I was in elementary school reading was reading, writing was writing, and math was math.  Each subject area was very defined and limited to only one thing.  Now it seems like one subject blurs into another.  We have students writing about what they're reading and reading about what they are writing.   Math is a little more tricky.  I've done a fair, but not great, job of getting my students to write about math. I regularly have my students write their own word problems, and I add written responses to many of my math tasks, but I've always felt like I could improve in this area.  However, it was one of those things though that kept getting put off.  I just couldn't see a way to add anything to my current math instruction.  By the time we practice multiplication facts, word problems, review old skills, and learn new concepts our day is full.  But then I heard two words that scared me to death CONSTRUCTED RESPONSE.

I won't lie.  My blood ran cold when I was told that the CRCT (our state test) would soon consist of multiple choice and constructed response questions.  I knew right away that I was going to have to place a MUCH bigger emphasis writing about math.  Unfortunately, I knew what I needed to do, but I could not decide HOW to do it.  I knew that I couldn't give up anything that I was already doing, and I just don't have time to add a big math writing block to my day.  I toyed with the idea of starting math journals all year last year, but couldn't get into any kind of rhythm.  I kept changing things and reorganizing notebooks, and basically searching for a way to make them work for me. It took me over a year, but I finally found my stride.  I've compiled everything into:  Math Journal Prompts for the Third Grade Common Core Standards.


This is very different from anything I've ever made or used before, but I'm really excited to share with you some of the ideas from the journals.  I know that when I first thought about math journals, I was very skeptical, because I always saw them as a lot of extra work without a significant benefit.  After spending a considerable amount of time researching writing about math, I learned that there are huge benefits to students regularly writing about math.  Over the next few days, I'll write a series of blog posts that describe our math journals and how we use them, so be sure to come back soon!

In the meantime, I'll show you what you'll find in the journals.  There are 100 math journal prompts that are specifically aligned to the third grade Common Core Standards.


There is a list of all the journal prompts that are organized by standard, and there are at least three prompts for every standard.  These can be used in any type of notebook.  Some of my students have spiral notebooks and others use composition notebooks.  They just have to write the title of the entry on the top of their page.



There are also a full page for each math prompt.  I'm considering sending these off to have print and bound, so that my students can have books that are ready to go.  I've already started pricing different places, and I've found some very reasonable prices.








Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Random Math

I feel like I've been playing catch up for the past couple weeks.  We've had several morning delays and an early dismissal that have slowed us down a little.  I also feel that I need to spend a little more time on fractions, but my curriculum map says that I need to be moving on to measurement.  So, I've been doubling up on my math lessons and squeezing as much into a day as possible.  I had to skip some of the social studies and science lessons that I was looking forward to, but I should be able to get to those eventually.

My new fraction manipulatives finally came in, and we're spending a little more time on equivalent fractions and comparing fractions.  The manipulatives are awesome, and have been a huge help by allowing my students to conceptually understand the size of fractions.  I think I've taken this unit a little further than necessary, but I love giving my kiddos a challenge.



We've also been measuring to the nearest 1/4 inch, centimeter, and millimeter.  We went on a treasure hunt today.  My kids cracked me up, because they couldn't get past why the pirate would burry his treasure where he did.  They were so caught up in the back story of the lesson.  They did great on the measuring, but we definitely need to practice north, south, east, and west a little.



I also have another short worksheet to share.  This is for extra practice on multiplying multiples of ten.  It's short and sweet, but it's nice for a little extra reinforcement.  You can click the picture for your copy.




Saturday, February 2, 2013

Another Freebie & a Sale

Why is it that whenever I have something that I really, really want to make I feel busier than ever??  I've got something new that I'm working on that I am so incredibly excited about and cannot wait to start using in my classroom, but there always seems to be something else I need to do!  I just need to hide and work for a day.  Who needs food and a clean laundry?

I do have another upgraded worksheet to share with you.  I have my students practice representing multiplication and division a lot, so these short and sweet little worksheets come in hand for extra practice.  I have a few more that I'll share soon.