With virtual and hybrid learning, it can be challenging to keep student engagement alive and formatively assess student learning in the moment. Here are two strategies I use to not only increase student engagement, but quickly monitor student learning and identify any misconceptions. These strategies can be used in all content areas as well as all grade levels.
I recently worked with a teacher on revamping a lesson to increase student engagement. Before designing the lesson, I asked her to describe what student engagement looks like and sounds like in her own classroom. Doing this seemed simple, but it uncovered key values that were important to her and helped bring more clarity to her vision.
By Ann-Elise Record
Did you know that the foundations of fractions are found in the geometry standards in K-2nd grade? Spend an hour with Ann Elise learning how to develop fraction concepts in Kindergarten to third grade using virtual manipulatives.
Desmos is one of my favorite digital platforms for math instruction because their classroom activities, linked here, are rooted in problem solving and inquiry approaches. I have loved using Desmos for several years, but more recently as the need for virtual learning platforms has grown, I started to think about what makes Desmos lessons so effective. Nick Corley, a Desmos fellow, shared a blog post with me describing the pedagogy behind Desmos lessons and I love how it explained the importance of developing conceptual knowledge prior to learning a procedure. Their lessons and activities do this in several unique ways.
By Ann Elise Record
In my consulting work, I’m frequently asked about how interventionists can structure their limited time with students to be the most impactful. There are two areas of content that I think are often not given enough instructional time that can be incredibly powerful and positively affect students’ achievement as well as their disposition: fluency and word problem structures. It’s all about finding out the students’ strengths and then building on them. In this post, I’ll be focusing on fluency and next month I’ll delve into word problem types.
By Ann Elise Record
Whenever we explore math concepts with students, having students see representations concretely, pictorially, and abstractly is so important for their brains. I have many math manipulatives that I love, but I think one in particular has the power to move our students forward on their math journeys from counting reasoning into additive reasoning and then, in grades 3-5, into multiplicative reasoning: CuisenaireⓇ Rods.
By Ashley Taplin
As we close out this unconventional school year, I am proud to be part of a resilient, creative, and passionate profession of education. I have been challenged, yet inspired, as we all have been exploring new platforms and strategies to grow our practice and engage our learners in this time of distance learning. As we part for summer, I wish you time to relax and recharge, and hope the ideas below can be some simple, yet enriching, ways to continue students’ and our own mathematical learning in between the well-deserved days of break.
Written by Ashley Taplin
This past month has brought about dramatic changes in our schools and our home life. But, as we continue to distance ourselves physically, it has been incredible to see educators grow even closer in united fronts to deliver enriching education to students. Below are some ideas for deepening strategies in math that can be accessed both digitally and by print copy.
There are so many resources available online for elementary children. Here is a list of my favorites!
Written by Randi Anderson
I've always been a sucker for a good theme. Every March, there is always buzz around the men's NCAA basketball tournament. Educators can tap into that buzz and use it in the classroom to get students motivated.
Ideas for Using March Madness in Your Classroom:
By Ashley Taplin
In the fall, I had the opportunity to attend a Visible Learning Institute in which John Hattie and Peter DeWitt dove into the topic of assessment capable learners. They explained that students need to be able to answer three questions: where am I going, how am I doing, and where to next? (download this classroom poster I created here). Furthermore, there are 6 key characteristics of assessment capable learners:
By Ashley Taplin
I was recently sent this quote from math guru, Marilyn Burns, in which she said, “I can no longer imagine teaching math without making writing an integral aspect of students’ learning. . . . Writing in math class requires students to organize, clarify, and reflect on their ideas” (Schmoker, 2018). As I began to reflect on integrating more opportunities for writing in my own classroom, I realized it was these fundamental skills from writing that deepened my student’s mathematical comprehension. I also gained new insight into their level of understanding as it was a more personal mode of communication beyond route calculation. But, just like math, writing requires practice and intentionality, and the more exposure, encouragement, and feedback we can give to students, the more competent and confident they will become. Below are some ideas to incorporate as you are beginning or continuing to develop writing in your classroom.
Using metacognitive markers is a low prep, yet effective strategy, that works well when students take notes to intentionally practice processing information. Creating a simple anchor chart, like the one pictured here, and keeping it up all year for students can be a helpful reference guide.
I have a new favorite children's book to share with you this month! One is a Piñata by Roseanne Greenfield Thong is a rhyming, bilingual counting book for ages two to ten. One of my favorite things about this book is its exploration of the Hispanic culture. Being born and raised in San Antonio, Texas myself, I've grown up celebrating and appreciating all things Fiesta- a cultural celebration featured in this book. While reading, I learned a few new Spanish words and had to use my inferring skills to determine what unknown words meant. The book also contains a glossary that allowed me to check my inferences for accuracy.
Place value is the foundation of conceptual understanding in Math, which is why it is so important that we have strategies to quickly engage students in practicing their place value skills with and without manipulatives. To help students deepen their understanding, give students a new number each day to explore. "Number of the day" can be used as a warm-up activity, a small group discussion activity, or in a math station.
Effective math learning takes place with the use of visuals! Most all of us need to see the math in front of us to be able to identify relationships and patterns. One fun way to grab your students' numerical attention is through photos that contain math situations. Simply take pictures throughout the day that contain groups of people or items that can serve as a catalyst for discussion.
When I started using the 6+1 Traits of Writing 9 years ago, I loved the strategy of RAFT to get students focused on a specific message for a specific audience. RAFT stands for Role, Audience, Format, and Topic. It really helped my students zone in on what was most important. Then as my instruction evolved, I found that RAFT was also an awesome strategy for writing in math.
A balanced math program includes time to develop and practice conceptual and procedural knowledge to proficient levels. Fitting it all in is a challenge, especially when you have a limited amount of time.
Writing in mathematics is a critical component for developing deep conceptual understanding. Math quick writes are a great way to get students thinking and explaining math concepts and relationships. A quick write is an opportunity for students to think about a specific topic or respond to a math-related question. The goal is to activate prior knowledge, make connections, and explore ideas. Any question or task that requires comprehension or analysis can be turned into a quick write.
Do you have a "just right" problem for your students to solve during guided math? There are many misconceptions about guided math. The biggest one is that students are pulled to small group to practice computation using manipulatives or algorithms learned during whole group. But really guided math is similar to guided reading in that it's all about using all of the math processes. This means the first step to guided math is selecting a problem in which students will engage in a productive struggle using all of their new learning and prior knowledge to solve.
Overcoming a fixed mindset for mathematics is a dilemma that most educators need to help students deal with every school year. Here are 3 ideas for getting students to develop a mathematical mindset.
Have you shared a Bedtime Math story lately? We love Bedtimemath.org and you should too!
Math backpacks are a great way to motivate students to practice their math skills at home. A Math Backpack is a simple backpack filled with focused math games, that have been played in the classroom that students take home to practice for a day or week.
Number talks are an easy way to start your math block off with a bang! Students are engaged in a mental math activity that gets them thinking strategically about numbers and how they work.
Children’s books can be effective vehicles for motivating children to think and reason mathematically. (Burns, 2004) A children’s book is a great way to launch or assess mathematical learning.
For every math unit, select 2-4 children’s books that contain situations related to the concepts and that allow students to use new skills and strategies. Be sure to choose wisely!
Reading aloud helps students expand their vocabulary and connect mathematical thinking to real life situations. Stories help students organize, store, and retrieve conceptual information related to the skills, strategies, and processes needed to think mathematically.
Children’s books provide a perfect starting point for engaging students in authentic problem solving. Students need time to hypothesize and experiment with strategies in real world situations. Stories provide a context that helps students construct conceptual understanding of math ideas.
Rekenrek Build-a set
Build your own Rekenrek with simple materials and a few simple steps. Great for use in the classroom counting by fives, tens, demonstrating the commutative property, creating fact families and so much more!
From pre-kindergarten to high school, students need frequent practice using their numeracy skills to solve problems. During five-to-ten minute number talks, students solve problems using mental math strategies and explain how they arrived at a solution.
When students create their own problems they are able to internalize the text structure of the the word problem.
In Susan O’Connell’s book Introduction to Problem Solving, the author suggests helping students understand word problems by showing students how to connect problem solving to their own lives and interests. Using the idea of a creating a mad lib can accomplish this goal and add some fun to math class
Small group guided math instruction is a powerful tool for helping students accelerate their problem solving skills. Just ten minutes of coaching and practice can potentially move students by leaps and bounds. Here are a few guidelines for guided math groups:
Browse through some of Kelly's personal favorites and professional recommendations for succesful Math instruction.
Second Grade Teacher Marcie Herbst's Math Workshop Choice Board. Students choose games and paper pencil activities to practice math skills and strategies.
Do your students love read aloud time? Can you see the wonder in their faces when you turn a good page or reveal an incredible illustration? Imagine extending such magic into the tasks you face in math... there is nothing like quality literature to unlock the secret behind a given concept, to extend the meaning of a term, or approach a topic from a new point of view. Authors have joined this effort and penned incredible covers spanning topics as simple as shapes and patterns to the more complex concept of circumference or probability.
“But, this is math. We don’t write in math class!”
Have you ever heard this from a student? Have you ever encountered resistance when attempting to integrate language arts into your regular math instruction?
It is perfectly normal for students to compartmentalize their learning, organize their work by content, and into categories that make the most sense. Writing in math? That just doesn’t compute,” they think to themselves. Yet, given this opportunity, students would find an outlet for exploring their thoughts, cementing their understanding, and extending the activity provided.
Do you remember the first time you learned how to ride a bike? The feel of the handle bars, the wind in your face, and that magical moment when the hand let go from the seat? Riding a bike is one of those things you just have to learn by doing. No book, no sit down discussion, or how-to video will teach the basic of balancing and braking. This is the case with mathematics as well.