Monday, October 8, 2012

Problem Solving. The First Time This Year

Hello Everyone,

What a morning I have had already. I am so glad it is over : ).  Okay time to talk about math. 

I started problem solving in the classroom last week and I was absolutely terrified to see how my class would handle it.  I should know by now that my students amaze me every day and this time  was no exception.  We have been working on whole group problems for the last week and they were loving every minute of it!

 I created learning targets based on our grade level expectations here at Davey.  I chose to create a template that helps guide the students to explain their thinking four ways.  At this point of the school year I require them to draw a picture (using math art, meaning quick sketches.  I do not have them use markers at all!), write a number sentence, and circle and label their answer.  I will tell them that they can just label with the first letter unless they are ready to do second grade work and write the whole label word.  Even the struggling students strive to do second grade work.  This also gives me a great opportunity to work on math comprehension and see those students who struggle in this area.

Here is a copy of the problems I chose to do with my students today.  Keep in mind that we practiced much easier problems the whole week and each day I did a subtraction and an addition problem.  We compared both problems to see how we knew if we would be adding or subtracting.  I needed to facilitate some questions to get them thinking, but many of them could tell me exactly how they know.  I gave them a chance to talk to the person next to them to explain how they know and they all handled it so well.

Before I sent them off to do their work I reminded them that in writing we strive to get to a score of 4 (classroom rubric posted) and how in math we can get a score of 4 as well if they have everything down on the paper.  You should see how motivated they are- I am so proud.

Now that my hopes are so high I decided to start centers this week.  I created some October centers to sell on .  I put a price on all of them, but I am giving you the link to a few of them as a thank you for reading this blog!  If you are interested in a few other products I have you can find my store at .  I am currently working on a missing addend unit as well as a problem solving unit for October.  My goal is to get them up by the end of this week unless conferences delay my progress.

Candy Corn Math Facts This center works both addition and subtraction math facts of +1/-1 and +0/-0.  I included a recording sheet that you can use as a progress monitoring piece.

Halloween Number Order Math Center This center focuses on number order at a variety of different levels.  I also included a recording sheet that has students list the numbers from greatest to least and another one that will have them list numbers from least to greatest.

Missing Number Spiders This center has students focus on number after/number before.  Recording sheet is included.

Halloween Skip Counting  My students are struggling with counting by 2's and 5's so I created this center to focus on skip counting.  I am making sure that students are skip counting both forwards and then backwards as well to extend their number knowledge.  To extend this center for students that need it I created recording sheets and I also have them skip count forwards and backwards w/o the cards.  Even my gifted students need practice on counting backwards.

I started keeping track of my progress monitoring with each MTB (Trailblazers) unit.  Here is an example of what I did with Unit 4 (Odd an Even) after the first two lessons.  First I handed out a random number of cubes to each student.  They were to count the cubes, write their name and the number on the post-it, and then pair up the cubes.  Then all I did was write even and odd on the board in a T-Chart form (simple, easy, and obviously does not need to be perfectly drawn).  I was able to see what students learned and what I still needed to work on.  I also kept in mind that students can just guess even or odd and have a 50% chance of getting it correct. 

I read off the numbers on the odd side first and wrote those numbers on the board.  I then had students raise their hands if they thought one number should actually be on the even side.  They also had to explain why they think that number should be on the even side.  This gave me a great chance to informally assess their thinking even further.  We did the same for the even side.  All the students were very engaged in their learning (even at 1:30pm) and I know the direction my instruction needs to go to meet the needs of my students.

I marked the post-it with an X if the student placed the post-it on the wrong side.  I also marked an X on their post-it if they could not explain even or odd if they volunteered. 

Sorry this posting is a bit longer, but I have not been able to post as often as I would like.  I am looking to purchase a new laptop soon to work more at home so if anyone has good suggestions please send them my way!
Happy Monday!
Tina Parker

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