#MathReps Work!

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Several years ago I created #MathReps (EduProtocols for math) for my classroom. The original idea was based on Jon Corippo‘s 8 p*ARTS of Speech. When I first designed it I was excited and blogged about it. Since then, the idea, and resources have grown. And being who I am, I constantly doubt myself and my creations. I constantly question whether I’m doing good or harm.

MathReps Logo

Yesterday, some of my doubts were cast aside and my creation was validated. Recently, I was talking to another 5th-grade teacher at my site. We were talking about some tasks that we have students do. She follows the curriculum to a T; I, however, do not. This is in NO way a slight towards her (she’s new and is doing as she is instructed). She shared that she pulled out a concept the students hadn’t seen in a few months (our curriculum doesn’t spiral. I have much more to say about it, but won’t do it here.). It was adding/subtracting with decimals. I thought THAT was a great idea, so I did the same. She reported her students having difficulty remembering to line up the decimals doing the task. As I gave my students a similar task, I observed that they instinctively lined up the decimals. I found this not only interesting but satisfying. My students had been exposed daily to almost 5 months of this concept on various #MathReps. Needless to say, I was elated and felt somewhat justified in doing what I do.

After completing the task I had a frank discussion with my class. I asked, even though I already knew the answer if they had any trouble adding the decimals. I asked about lining up the decimals. They all looked at me like I was crazy. Of course, they knew to line up the decimals….duh! I then shared WHY! I also shared that a class that doesn’t use #MathReps had trouble remembering that important piece of information. And that it was because we practiced these concepts DAILY that they had no trouble with that part. (They had trouble with the task but weren’t confused about how to perform the actual skill of adding decimals.) Because of the culture of our class, they focused on the fact that #MathReps actually do help them and not on the class that had trouble. It was so awesome to bring to light to them, and me, that this protocol really works. One student even remarked that while they may not like doing them it does help them to learn.

Just like with anything, if we don’t use newly acquired knowledge we lose it. In addition, John Hattie puts repetition at a 0.73 on the Hattie Check Scale. I would caution that there are different types of repetition and we need to make sure that our reps are meaningful.

I did share this with the other teacher. I assured her it was no slight on her, and she understood, rather it was a slight on the adopted curriculum.

Cootie Catcher Math

Playing with the Cootie Catcher

I am so over our math program! It’s soooooo boring! And if I’m bored, the kids are too. So today we did ‘Cootie Catcher Math’ aka ‘Fortune Teller Math’. This was not completely my idea. The original paper came from Scholastic. I liked it, copied it, and added to it. So simple, so fun, so NOT boring!

I copied the Cootie Catcher from a book by Scholastic. This was interesting because my students aren’t really into them at the moment so neither of us knew how to fold them properly. After a brief refresher, we were on our way! This was a very simplistic one. We needed to practice subtracting fractions. This one had like denominators so it was perfect for the first go-around.

The students worked in pairs. They had 2 tasks to complete for each round. Round one had them answering a subtraction problem while round two had them answering a more difficult word problem. But, because I know how 5th-graders work, there had to be some accountability attached otherwise it would be a free for all.

Students were tasked with solving all problems on their whiteboards. Then they were to take a photo and insert it into a slideshow that I shared with them via Google Classroom. Essentially, the students had a 2 slides presentation to complete. Problem 1 and challenge went on one slide show while problem 2 and the attached challenge went on slide two.

It was a success! All students completed the task successfully. I plan to do it again! I’m feeling better and better about math as I stretch what can be done outside a textbook. Last week we did an Iron Chef, Math Style.

Math Video Practice

I hate monotony. I hate doing boring work. I hate workbooks. However, sometimes the simple fact is that kids need to do some of that boring work to get the process down. We have been working on multiplying decimals for a week now. They are getting it, but need more practice. If I suggested doing more work from their math books, I might have had a mutiny on my hands.  So I tricked them!

I made copies of some of their math book pages. They were given partners and one problem to solve. In the end, they were to record their process. This was a great exercise for everyone. A few groups used physical manipulatives to show their thoughts while others chose to use the algorithm. I think my favorite was this group who tried to subtract before multiplying. During their group work, I was able to sit with them and help guide them after listening to their reasoning

Manipulate This!

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img_2277I don’t use manipulatives enough in math. Over the past few years, I have used fewer manipulatives than ever before. I take partial responsibility for this. I should have incorporated more into my lessons. However, other factors contributed to this: my district not providing any manipulatives, adopting a half curriculum (half because the state doesn’t recognize it) that makes no mention of using any, and the pressure to keep moving along the curriculum/pacing guide. Well, this year I am making a conscious effort to do better.

No more excuses. Last week my class explored decimals and multiples of ten. I didn’t think they were really understanding that they moved the numbers a column (base-10 number chart) because we have a base-10 number system. They could do it, but were they understanding the why? The answer was, no. So, I broke out the base-10 manipulatives (rods, flats, etc.) to illustrate this. THEY worked as a group  (table groups) to prove that 0.26 x 10 = 2.6. Yeah, that lesson was a total failure! Each group created 10 groups of 0.26, but when they combined them they grabbed everything; including the unused manipulatives.

I did not want to give up the opportunity for them to make a connection. I regrouped after the failed lesson and reflected on what went wrong – management on my part. The next day we tried it again with greater success. Once they had their 10 groups of 0.14 I had them clean up the extra pieces (duh). They still weren’t completely making the connection, therefore, several conversations were had. Several finally saw the connection.

I’m not saying that this lesson hit it out of the park, obviously, it didn’t. I do need to make sure the students are getting more and more exposure to the manipulatives. With practice, we will all get better.

For as much as I write about my successes, I need to also write about my failures. This is a lesson that I am still thinking about nearly a week later. How can I make it better next time? Where did I go wrong? Any and all suggestions welcome.

#MathReps

About a year and a half ago I began imagining how Jon Corippo‘s 8 p*ARTS of Speech might look in a math classroom. That’s when I started on my journey of #MathReps. It was small, and originally just for me. I had no problem sharing it and did so freely. Since then, I have been encouraged to expand to other grades. Working with other teachers, I have begun creating and collecting #MathReps for grades K – 8. It is an ongoing process.

#MathReps Example

Feel free to share with others. All credits are given to those that helped. And to them, I thank you!

MathReps: 1st Grade

Last year I created some 5th-grade math protocols. Simple pages students could fill in to help solidify and keep up previously learned skills. This year, I decided to create grades K – 8. A friend and I got together this weekend and hammered out the beginning of 1st grade. And, we gamified it! The directions and gameboards are in Google Slides. This allows you to copy it and customize it.

I also created a video, based on the 1st-grade teacher’s recommendation. Thank you Cris McKee!

I’d love to hear how you use it. Have suggestions for other 1st-grade MathReps? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

Mathematical Mindsets

Mathematical Mindsets book by Jo BoalerThis year, as a parting gift, my principal handed out this book to all returning and new staff members. We were invited to participate in a Summer Book Club. One in which we read, post thoughts, videos, questions, and ideas. This made me so happy! I had thought about buying the book earlier this year when my principal told me to hold off and that he was buying one for all of us. So for the last 2 weeks of school, I hounded him to let me take my copy. He wouldn’t give it to me until I signed out of my room. Tricky man! (NOTE: I NEVER ask to read a book. I have some reading disabilities that make ‘heavier’ readings difficult for me)

So a few of us have started the book and are making our notes/comments in the provided document; my principal created a shared doc in Google. I appreciate this way as I can read what others have written and get a general sense of what’s to come. The most recent chapter, Chapter 3, really caught my attention. In it, the author talks about how students view math vs. mathematicians view math. Students tend to view it as procedures, rules, and/or calculations. However, mathematicians tend to see it as creative, beautiful, and full of patterns. It was the sentiment that math is a study of patterns that made me take notice.

I have, for years, told my students that math was about patterns. That it was like a puzzle one needed to solve. I have always viewed math as a series of patterns and puzzles. I remember when I was in Kindergarten, a friend and I were talking. She was bragging how she could count to 100 while I could only count to 20. This irritated me. I wanted to count to 100 too. I remember going home and working this problem out in my room. Why I didn’t ask my mother is beyond me. But I was a stubborn kid (and for those of you who know me now, I’m still pretty stubborn). I remember looking at the numbers and ‘analyzing’ them. I thought, “If I can count to 20, then I can figure out how to count to 100.” And as I looked at the numbers, I saw a pattern. The numbers repeated. I began to realize that once the numbers in the one’s place (although I didn’t know place value at the time) were done, they started over again. And the numbers in the ten’s place began at 1, then went to 2 when all the numbers in the one’s place had been used. I had figured out the problem and went to school the next day bragging that I too, could count to 100.

Part of my success with math has come from A) a reading disability, so I gravitated towards math, and B) the fact that I was able to play and manipulate numbers on my own, okay and C) just being a plain old stubborn kid! We need to help students view math as patterns. We need to get over our own fear of math. We need to explore and allow conversations to happen in math. This is where the learning happens and a love of math will develop.

This is such a great book! Full of inspiration. I’m so glad we are reading it as a staff.

One final note: From grades 2 – 6 I was convinced I was going to grow up to be a mathematician. While that’s not my occupation, I’d say that I am one! We all are!