Sunday, March 29, 2015

Mathematics Through Play Book Study Part 1

Welcome to week 1 of our Math Through Play Book Study!  I love seeing my students excited about learning math and engaged in doing mathematics.  I love seeing how young children work on big math ideas through play and am so excited to be reading this book.  After being just a few chapters into this book, I already have a few ideas for how I can incorporate more math into my own children's play as well as set things up at school to have more math play time.  

Here is the posting schedule for this book study:
Sunday March 29th: Chapters 1-3
Sunday April 5th: Chapters 4&5
Sunday April 12th: Chapters 6&7
Sunday April 19th: Chapters 8&9

If you are just joining us, head to this post for more details! 

Chapter 1: Play and Problem Solving

Kids need to play.  Some of my favorite activities in the classroom where I really feel like kids are engaged and learning math while solving problems have came from play based situations.  It is truly amazing how much STEM work can come out of play.  This chapter helped me think about how play connects with other areas of math learning to give kids a solid foundation.  "This connection making between images, words and symbols at an early stage will often help children avoid misconceptions at a later stage."  I love this idea about play laying a strong mathematical foundation.  Misconceptions and fragmented knowledge are two of the biggest thorns in my side when I work with older children and if some of this can be avoided by providing more play opportunities when they are younger than I am all for it.  This chapter helped me think about how I can ask more open ended questions, provide open ended resources, give kids more time to talk and embrace the opportunity when kids want to extend what they are working on.  These ideas are obviously great for play based math but I think they will also help me when working with older students.  

Chapter 2: Creating and Using a Mathematical Environment

More than anything this chapter makes me want to go out and create an outdoor classroom.  This would be a huge undertaking but I think it would be amazing!  I obviously can't do this all at once but it has really motivated me to look into some possibilities and think about how I can get kids outside more.  I need to do more research!  

As ambitious as creating an outdoor classroom sounds, there were many ideas from this chapter that I feel I could add easily and immediately.   There are several things I could do in many grades to create a more mathematically rich environment.  Many of these things I already have but I need to think about how to make some of them easily accessible to students.  
- Books about numbers
- Construction kits: block, Legos, Lincoln logs, etc. 
- Measuring and weighing tools
- Number tracks
- Tactile number cards (looking for ideas for these!)
- A display area to display student graphics
- Blank booklets for students to make their own math books or to record their own thinking
- Washing line (loved these ideas!  Thinking about where this could fit!)
- Add some math components to the writing center: sheets of large numerals, sheets of math vocab, plastic shapes and rulers.

Creative Recording and Mathematical Graphics

I think this is an area where I need some improvement.  I have come a long way from being the worksheet queen and spend a lot less time coping papers for kids.  I have even had kids making their own record sheets for games and such the last few years.  However, I think there is still much for me to learn about helping kids record or capture their math thinking in their own way.  I love the idea of recording math being similar to mental math on paper.  I have found having the talk with kids about math class drawing being different from art class drawing to be important.  The suggestions in this chapter gave me some good ideas about how I can be more intentional in letting kids record their own ideas.  I definitely need to get working on a way to display children's math graphics!  

What were your thoughts on this week's reading?  Do you know of any great resources on creating an outdoor classroom?  What about ideas for tactile numbers or displays of children's math graphics!  Can't wait to read your thoughts!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Monday Math Literature: Fun with Balloons and Counting

Every once in a while I will stumble upon a math literature book that my students and I can not get enough of.  Today I want to tell you about one of our new favorite books,  Zero, Zilch, Nada Counting to None

This book is about a young rabbit who gets a job in a balloon factory.  He is asked to blow up 100 balloons for a party.  He has a set of 10 racks with 10 slots in each rack to put the balloons in.  He blows up all 100 balloons and then tries counting to make sure there really are 100.  He gets ideas from other animals that are stopping by to drop things off.  He counts by 10's, 5's, 2's, and 1's.  The only problem is that he can't seem to keep track of which ones have already been counted.  He decides that the solution to this problem will be to pop each balloon as it as counted.  This leads to a hilarious conclusion and a great opportunity to talk with your students about how to organize and keep track when counting objects.  It is also a great chance to discuss and practice skip counting.  Even if I did nothing with the rich opportunities to discuss math in this book, I would still read it to students because it is an amazing story.  This book pairs well with counting and estimating routines and would be a great introduction or follow up to these ideas.  

If your students need more work on skip counting you might want to check out these other blog posts:

Also our next book study starts this coming Sunday!  Head over to this post to read more about it!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Monday Math Literature: Fun with Math at Home

Welcome to this week's edition of Monday Math Literature!  I have been having so much fun the last few weeks playing with the recipes and math ideas in this great book.  

This book includes 7 different recipes that kids and adults can make together.  There are ideas for incorporating math before, during and after cooking.  As part of my quest to get kids playing more I have found a lot of great ideas in this book.

The lesson I want to share with you is called Milk and Tangram Cookies.  It was done with a few upper elementary students who are a bit behind and then some younger students joined us at the end.  Check it out!

These students have had some experience with fractions.  I was concerned about some of their conceptual understanding of fractions and wanted to take this opportunity to review a few big ideas.  Many of the ingredients in the recipe called for half a cup.  I decided to only put out the quarter and eighth cup measuring cups and the half teaspoon and half tablespoon.  This contrives it a bit and helps students review and think about what they know about fraction equivalencies.   

The students read the directions and started thinking about how they were going to use the measuring tools I gave them and still follow the recipe.  

Practicing with measuring, fractions and more. 

It takes two quarter cups to make a half cup. 

We were supposed to bake these in a square pan.  I didn't have a square pan but have several circular and rectangular ones.  The kids problem solved and decided to go with a circular pan.  The directions include a traceable template to help you create tangrams but we just eyeballed it.  Notice how we had to make a square first.  This led to a great discussion about polygons versus non polygons.  

We pre-cut the cookies before putting them in the oven. I highly recommend this because if you make a mistake on the dough, it is easy to fix.  Much of the lines disappear as they bake, but you can still see where they were and it is an easy step to re-cut along the old lines.   

As the cookies were baking, I took a suggestion from the book and gave the kids a paper set of tangrams.  They were highly interested in them knowing that their cookies were going to be like this momentarily.  They spent some time creating different designs as well as composing and decomposing shapes.  

One of several designs.  This one sparked a great discussion about the different angles in the shapes and led to us sorting the shapes by the types of angles they have.  The kids were so impressed that all the triangles had equivalent angles despite being different in size.  Also the parallelogram sparked a great debate about angle size and obtuse versus acute angles.  

We had so much fun exploring more with the cookies that I didn't get to take a lot of pictures.  We repeated some of the ideas we found on the paper tangrams and extended some ideas about angles.  Then we had two primary students join us and the older kids did a little lesson with them on the number of sizes and angles the names of the shapes.  
I love this book and can't wait to try out the last few recipes.  I had the BEST TIME doing the lesson on fraction chips and I think it is an excellent match for any kids who need some more practice or motivation with fractions.  I love having fun with my students and giving them a memorable experience to anchor their math understanding.  This book has been an excellent addition and I am excited about using it in other ways.  It can easily be adapted for older and younger students but I would say the best grade range is 2-5.

If you teach other subjects besides math, there are other books in this series that look just as engaging.

In other Math Maniac news, you can now find me on Instagram.  I will be doing a giveaway over there over the next few days and would love for you to check it out!  My best selling QR code scavenger hunts will be up for grabs so head over to enter!

Also, my newest book study will be starting soon.  We will be looking more at math play.  Head to this blog post to check out all the details.  

New Book Study Announcement

The countdown to spring is on!  This is the time of year that I can't wait to get outside and dig in the dirt.  I also like to re-commit myself to professional reading because it motivates me to be my best as the school year comes to a close.  I have not done much professional reading since finishing up the Number Talks books study and I can't wait to dig into a few more good books.  With the emphasis this time of year on standardized testing, I wanted to pick something to keep teachers minds off of testing.  I have done some exploring with math play and am interested in reading more about play based learning.  So I have decided for my next book study, I will be digging into Mathematics Through Play in the Early Years.  
Each Sunday, I will be posting my thoughts about a few of the chapters and I would love to have you join me.  You can participate by leaving a comment here or writing your own blog post and linking it in the comments section.  

Here is the posting schedule
Sunday March 29th: Chapters 1-3
Sunday April 5th: Chapters 4&5
Sunday April 12th: Chapters 6&7
Sunday April 19th: Chapters 8&9

Grab a copy of the book and finish your school year strong!