Wordless Wednesday

Hi everyone.
I’m linking up with Miss Decarbo for Wordless Wednesday.


Sometimes it’s just one of those days when you need some chocolate. Today was definitely one of those days!! It’s a good thing my kids give me chocolate for every holiday.

What gets you through a rough day?

Head back to her blog to check out some other fabulous posts.
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Math Exlemplars (Problem Solving) Part II

So today was Day 2 of my math investigations. As soon as we got into class, the kids ask, “When are we doing math?” They get so excited over working together and creating a poster to show their work.

Day 2
Teaching Point: Mathematicians will do a gallery walk to observe other students investigations and then make revisions to their own investigation.
Time: 75 minutes

Now it is time for the students to have their gallery walk. We put the posters on desks and the students get to walk around the room to look at the math posters. I try to put the same amount of posters on each table so that students can just switch tables once or twice. I have tired the gallery walk other ways but, it can get very chaotic. (You can put the posters where ever you want. If you have the wall space, hanging the posters up works really well.)

The students walk around the classroom with their partner, a pencil and post-its. I give the students as many post-its as posters they will view. So today my kids viewed 4 math posters so they were given 4 post-its.

Now comes the hard part. This takes a lot of practice! They discuss what they noticed, what they liked or what they didn’t understand. My students discuss the math on the poster and talk about glows (what they did well) and grows (what they need to work on.) The partnership has to come to an agreement on what they will write on the post-it. Each partnership can only place one post-it with comments on each math poster they discuss. Are the comments all great? No. But it’s a work in progress.
I have really noticed a difference in my kids math talk. They are using words like strategy!

Here is one of the comments that a partnership wrote:

As the kids are discussing the posters, I try to coach them on the type of comments and questions the students write on the post it.

Next the students go back to their investigation and read the comments left by their classmates. Kids will run up to you with comments they feel are wrong, but you have to do mini lessons on how to write comments and give good feedback.

After reading the comments, the students use a different color to revise their work. This will be MESSY!! But you can see a lot of learning going on.
Here are some of the revised math investigations
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Day 3 will be on Monday. This part is called the math congress and it is basically a big share. You choose about 3 posters that show something you want to highlight to the class. It could be a strategy used, organization, or how the poster was labeled. You highlight something that you want the rest of the class to pay attention to. Often times, I will choose a poster with a wrong answer and highlight the organization or the math vocabulary that was used. This way the students know that even though it’s important to get the right answer, other parts of problem solving are also important. This also gives the struggling students the chance to be highlighted.
The students come up and explain the part you thought was great.

If you want to see the rubric I use or the conference sheet I use, look back at Part I.

Have you done this in your class? Is this something you might like to try? Leave a comment to let me know what you think.


Math Exlemplars (Problem Solving) Part I

I love math! I love teaching math and reading about math. I wasn’t always a math person. I used to be a reading/ writing person. I even have my Masters with a certification in reading. But somewhere along the way, things changed (Thanks Gael!)

I love teacher different strategies and seeing the light bulbs bling on when a student finally gets a concept. I love using dry erase boards with my kids for quick assessments and for fun. I love using math videos in the classroom. It makes me 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

One thing I love doing with my kids is Math Exlemplars or as I call them, Math Investigations. Have you done this with your kids? The minute I say we are doing a math investigation, the cheers start.

For this investigation, I took it easy on the kids. We just got back from spring break. Looking back, I probably should have chosen a more challenging problem.

To start, you introduce a challenging word problem to the kids.
Emersion Work:
Time: 10-15 minutes (sometimes a bit more)
-Read the Math Investigation to the class
-Review problem
-What do we know from the problem?
-What do we want to know? What is it asking us to find?
-What do the following words mean…
-How does this problem relate to the math topics we have been leaning about the unit?
-Students try to solve the problem on their own for 10 minutes. (I usually give a little more time.)

Sometimes I am so surprised over the words the kids are unsure about. The words from today’s problem were poked and bulb.
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After the students solve the problem independently, you pair the kids up by like strategies. They don’t necessarily have to have the same answer, but they should have the same method or strategy.

Day 1:
Teaching Point: Mathematicians will solve a math investigation by discussing and working out strategies with a partner or group.
Time: 75 minutes (or however long you have. :))
-After the students are paired up by strategies, review the problem again.
-Students work out the problem together. This promotes the Mathematical Practices. It is great to walk around the room and hear the kids arguing over whose answer is right and why.
I give the partnership one piece of paper so they can work the problem out together.
I also give each partnership a rubric to refer to while working on the problem.
Once the students feel they are finished, they create a math poster showing how they solved the problem
-As the students are working, I walk around the room and ask guided questions: Why are you using this strategy? Does this make sense? What in this problem told you to…? and similar questions.

Here is the rubric (Thanks Lauren.)
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Here is the conference note sheet I use (Thanks again Lauren!.)
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Here are some of my kids’ posters. It’s amazing to see the different strategies.
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Come back tomorrow for Math Investigations Part II – A gallery walk and making revisions.

Leave a comment to let me know what you think. Have you done math investigations with your kiddos? Do you think this would be something you might try?

Wordless Wednesday

Hi everyone.
I’m linking up with Miss Decarbo for Wordless Wednesday.


One of the best trips we go on is to an environmental center. This is one of the animals the kids hold and learn about.
Its is one of the best trips!

What’s one of the best field trips you have been on?

Head back to her blog to check out some other fabulous posts.
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Thoughts on the Common Core

Has your state implemented the Common Core Standards? I know many states have. How do you feel about the new standards?
Let me start out by saying that I feel, as do many others that many of the standards are definitely inappropriate for our kids. I wish we could sit down and rewrite standards that are realistic for our kiddos.

I think the biggest problem with The Common Core State Standards is the way the standards have been implemented. There has been a lack of training for both teachers and parents. The materials being created are horrible and many times are just thrown at the teachers, sometimes during the school year like ReadyGen. Read my opinion about ReadyGen here

Here is a video that was put out by Common Core for parents. I am not a fan of this video!

I have to tell you, I really have mixed feelings about the standards. Do I love them? No. Do I hate them? No. I am somewhere in the middle. Let’s say I am in limbo. I don’t really like them but I also don’t hate them.

I do think that there should be some type of common standards. Don’t throw anything at me please!! 🙂
I work in NYC and see many kids come in and out of the classroom from all over the country. The differences in what I see is astounding. I know that all kids are different and are at different levels. But, sometimes there is such a drastic difference in what they know. I am in no way blaming any teachers!!

I think there is a lot of misconceptions about The Common Core Standards. We have taught many of these strategies or skills before the Common Core was introduced. I think they have just been bumped up to unrealistic standards for our kids.

As I look through Facebook posts and see the posts about solving math, I cringe. People complain about the solving of the math problem as “Look at the Common Core Standards!” I look at the problem and think, “That’s not the Common Core Standards. That’s a strategy or a way to solve the problem.” Many of the complaints I see is that the common core makes solving problems more complicated. Do we teach complicated methods sometimes? Yes. But remember some of the kids do need the visuals to understand concepts. For years we have used manipulatives to teach regrouping. Now, we draw out the cubes in place value charts and show how to regroup. What’s the big deal? Do all of my kids like it? No! If the kids know how to regroup and can explain how and why to regroup, then I let them do the work any way they want.

As teachers, it is our job to teach different strategies or methods to our students so that each student can find the strategy that works best for them.
Are some of the strategies confusing? Yes, they are. Do I like them all? No, but I still teach them.
You may ask, “If you don’t agree with the strategy or the way something is taught, then why teach it?” I teach the “confusing” strategy because even if just one kid who struggling with the concept before can compute with accuracy, then it was well worth it!

As a parent of a third grader and a second grade teacher, it is amazing how the kids like to use different strategies. My son Alex, uses math strategies that sometimes I have a hard time understanding. I have to have him show or explain it to me a few times before I know what he is talking about. He is one of those kids who likes to use the unpopular strategies of decomposing numbers.

Like I said, I don’t necessarily like The Common Core Standards but I do what I have to do to reach every student (even teach the unpopular and “confusing” strategies.) 😉

Let me know what you think. Leave a comment below.

I Need A Dollar Tree

I hope everyone had a great Easter or at least a restful break sometime this month. I only have one more day of spring break before I go back.

I have accomplished so much this week. Unfortunately, that did not include actually school work. I created this blog. Yay! Go Me! I am running my first giveaway that ends tonight. I even created a multiplication pack with my first craftivity! I simply love it!

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Anyway, I need a Dollar Tree by me. I see all of these amazing posts and ideas and many of them involve items from the Dollar Tree. The closest Dollar Tree to me is over an hour drive away! OVER AN HOUR! I have tons of 99ç stores and a dollar or more stores by me. But lets face it a 99ç store is NOT the same as the Dollar Tree. I am so jealous of those of you who live close to a Dollar Tree (My husband thinks I’m crazy!!) But I think you understand… I hope. 🙂

My mom lives about 5 minutes from a Dollar Tree. Too bad she lives in Pennsylvania and it takes about two and half hours to get there. But I went over the weekend to celebrate Easter with her and yep, we hit the Dollar Tree.

I was so tired of my dice falling all over the floor and disappearing. So I bought some cute little containers to put the dice in. I know this idea has been posted before. I apologize for not giving credit to the original poster, but I can’t for the life of me remember where I saw it. If you know, let me know so I can give some credit.

10 of these containers for $1.00!!!
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I also bought some cards to replace my missing or ripped cards. In the 99ç store, the cards are 99ç each. Score! In the Dollar Tree, 4 packs of cards for $1. So I need a Dollar Tree by me.

What do you love about the Dollar Tree? Do you have one near you?

I Hate Snack Time!

Snack vs. Recess
I hate snack time! There I said it!
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s important for the kids to have a break and run around. If you are in a school where the kids are able to go outside and run around, then I think snack time (recess time) is great. On the other hand, if you are in a school where its just a 5 or 10 minute break in the classroom where the kids eat…

Growing up in NYC I had recess. We were given about 15 to 20 minutes to go outside into the yard and run around. You sat down on the ground and had a really quick snack so you could play tag with your friends.

If I had recess in my school, I would be all for it! But what we have is snack. The kids come with big lunch boxes full of food. I try to have the kids bring in healthy snacks, but often its cookies, candy, and chips. The kids get between 10 and 15 minutes to eat and talk.

I am amazed by what the kids pull out of their lunch bags! The food just keeps on coming. I had one student pull out 2 bags of chips, a yogurt, and a candy bar to eat for snack. WHAT!!!

Not only do the kids eat junk, even though letters have been sent home to remind parents to send in a healthy lunch, the cleanup is an additional few minutes. It drives me crazy!!!

So I’m all for recess but not for snack. The kids need to go out and run around.

What do you think? Do you think there is a difference between snack time and recess? Leave a comment!

Using Math Videos

Do you use math videos in your classroom? I love to use math videos and other videos to keep my kiddos engaged. Sometimes I feel more like an actress than a teacher. Hey, but whatever it takes…
I love watching my kids as they see a link for a video or movie on the smart board. Their eyes light up and they start whispering to each other, “A video, a video!” It’s just so cute. It makes me smile to see the excitement.
Two of the videos that my kids love are on fractions. As soon as they see the video they stop talking (which is a feat in itself. I mean they almost never stop talking!)
They even request to watch this video during snack. They eat, listen, sing, and dance. Can you picture 32 second graders singing and dancing to videos on fractions and then yelling, “Again! Again!”

This first video made the kids laugh.

The video below was the absolute favorite!

I use this video with my small groups, even though all the kids like it. My students will sing this all day long!

What videos do you use in your class during math or other subjects?