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Education News

Did You Know this about Super Teacher Worksheets?

In case you are a Super Teacher Worksheets fan, you may like to know this little secret.  On top of the fact that they have eleventy billion fabulous sheets at your fingertips at the click of a button (no losing your files here), they also have a new site for Smart Board lessons!  This new site is called Modern Chalkboard.    Their Smart Board lessons also are compatible with Smart TVs.  It gets better, their Smart Board lessons are also aligned with Common Core Standards!  WOW!  Imagine saving yourself so much time throughout the school year to have these lessons readily available to you.  Here are some of my favorite samples…

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If you are willing to pay $5 for all of these resources per month, which in my opinion is totally worth it, then you could invest $50 for all of their high quality Smart Board lessons for $50 a year.  I wouldn’t tell you they were high quality if they weren’t, so you might as well get a head start and buy a membership at the beginning of the year so you can have more time for your family ;)!  Here are a few free lessons to sample!

YAY! Teacher Blog Spot!! A Celebration Sale!

OH! MY! GOODNESS GRACIOUS!  Scholastic emailed me last week from New York to tell me that my blog was featured in their new Instructor magazine for summer 2014!  The email said that Teacher Blog Spot was featured as one of their “best summer reading recommendations for, and from teachers.”  Not only that but my blog has also been chosen as an “Award Winning Teacher Blog for Thought-Provoking Ideas!”  And to think, my blog is  right beside Kleinspiration!  Erin Klein who is the author of Kleinspiration is a famous blogger to me, and she speaks at large conferences.  (Once I rode the elevator with her at a conference!)  Anyhow, here is the cover of the magazine that they mailed to me.  Maybe I should sign it!  It might be worth lots of money someday ;)!

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So, I have TWO celebrations…that was the first one!

My second celebration is that Teacher Blog Spot has over 500 Facebook likes!  YAY!!  I have been waiting for this day for a LONG TIME!

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Can I get an “O U DID A GOOD JOB!”  Hold your arms up in an O shape while saying “O”, then a U shape while saying “U”, and now point at my blog (your computer screen) while saying “did a good job”! –My favorite school celebration!

Because of these two celebrations, I am throwing a sale in my TPT store!  To say thank you to my followers, everything is 20% off and my best selling item will be 50% off!  Scoop up some goodies for the upcoming school year!

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More Common Core Test Items

Apparently, the Smarter Balanced Consortium IS smarter or at least busier!  They definitely have more sample test items posted than the eastern side of the U.S.  We have only a sprinkling of sample test items with PARCC.  If you go to Smarter Balanced’s website they have printable PDF’s of test questions available to download as well as some others which are animated to view.  Directly below is one of the test questions from the printable PDF’s.  Clicking on this items will take you to the page where there are links to other grade level’s test questions.

 

The following two test questions are from the interactive animated sample items.  Clicking on either of these will take you to the site where more of these are available.

I’m totally printing those so at least we know what we will be aiming towards next year.  One thing I have noticed is that the Smarter Balanced consortium’s test did include a multiple choice item (when I say multiple choice, I mean an A,B,C, or D response).  I have not seen any of those with the PARCC assessment’s sample items.  I wonder if they will be different when it all comes down to test time?

Snapshot: What Does Obama’s State of the Union Address Mean for You?

During Obama’s State of the Union Address he spoke of lofty initiatives to:

  • Keep kids in high school until they are 18
  • offer rewards and incentives for teacher effectiveness instead of seniority
  • improve teacher quality by improving teacher preparation programs
  • partner businesses with community colleges
  • end tuition tax credits
  • make college more affordable by keeping tuition rates the same and ending federal funding if the universities increase their tuition
  • replace ineffective teachers
  • Give schools flexibility instead of teaching to the test, creatively teach students to learn…(and how will this happen since there will still be a test?)

See the full article at Huffington Post.

 

What Does Modeling with Mathematics Really Mean?

Keep it REAL!  This fourth common core standard for mathematical practice could be summed up in that statement.  Modeling with Mathematics doesn’t quite mean pull out the snap cubes, color tiles, and pattern blocks.  The essence of this standard is to create problem solving experiences for students that they will encounter in real life.  Some practical problem solving experiences could include:

  • If I have to put 2/3 cups of flour in the recipe and I need to double the recipe, how many times do I need  to fill a 1/3 measuring cup to put enough flour in the doubled recipe?
  • Which cell phone data and calling package is the best buy?
  • What time do I need to wake up for school to get dressed and be there fifteen minutes early?
  • If I can only spend 25% of my income on renting a house, how much money do I need to make to rent a house that is $500 a month? $600? $900?
  • How could you create a floor plan for a house with 1428 square feet?
  • If a certain medicine is shown to be effective 33% of the time, should it be used to treat an illness?

 

What Does it Mean for Students to Construct a Viable Argument and Critique the Reasoning of Others?

To create an environment for this third standard of mathematical practice, a teacher must create a safe environment where students’ do not fear risks and where it is okay for them to be wrong.  In our current school culture most students do not feel comfortable being wrong for fear of being laughed at or belittled by their peers or worse–maybe the teacher.  This culture must be replaced by the idea that everyone’s thinking is worth examining either for why it is correct or incorrect.  For students, gone is the day when they simply agree or disagree with someone’s answer–might I add usually following the tone of the teacher’s voice to know if the answer is correct.  Students must be able to explain why they agree or disagree.

We must value each student’s response.  Instead of getting an answer and moving on, teachers should collect the thinking of at least several students and ask if the answers are reasonable or unreasonable.  For example, for the problem 14 x 3, a teacher might go around the room and gather the answers 17, 34,  32, 42, and 44.  The teacher can ask students which answers are unreasonable and why.

A student who is critiquing the reasoning of other with a viable argument might say something like:

“Well, I know that 17 can’t be correct because if you add 10 twice that makes 20 and fourteen is more than 10 and 20 is more than 17, so 17 couldn’t be correct.  Also, I think they accidentally added because 14 plus 3 is seventeen.”

In the above case the student who gave the incorrect answer is not named because no one remembers who gave the response 17.  Since 17 is written on the board as a response and no name is written by the response the answer is viewed merely as something to discuss.  The student, however, who gave the response 17 is most likely intently listening because he gave the response.  Further, the student answering 17 may have even recognized his mistake when the teacher wrote all of the responses on the board and saw how his was far from other students’ answers.

A practical approach of a student constructing a viable argument for his correct answer might sound something like this after being asked what is 14 x 3?

“I know the answer is 42 because I used the distributive property to multiply my tens first and then my ones.  I broke the fourteen into one ten and four ones.  Then I multiplied the ten times three and I got thirty.  Next, I multiplied the three ones and the four ones and got twelve.  Then I added thirty and twelve and got 42.

I know what you are thinking, “My students wouldn’t say all of that!”  BUT, if you praise and expect this behavior, you will be surprised at what your students will be able to explain by the end of the year.  Eventually you will no longer prompt students to go beyond the answer “42”, they will be explaining their reasoning without being asked.

How Do You Encourage Students’ to Make Sense of Problems and Persevere in Solving Them?

Making Sense of Problems and Persevere in Solving Them is the first of the Eight Mathematical Practices of Common Core.  Because this is a practice that needs to be fostered in students and is not easily modeled by teachers, it is one of the more difficult practices to develop in students.  Teachers tend not to model problem solving, but they model a method or a strategy to find a solution.  Making Sense of Problems and Persevering in Solving them kisses the old “direct modeling” lesson plans goodbye.

Instead of direct modeling, teachers should provide students with rich tasks that help students discover the content they are trying to teach.  A good example of this is in one of the TERC math investigations books in which students are given several nets and asked to find the number of cubes needed to fill the net.  Students then are asked to make a generalization about how to find the number of cubes needed to fill a net.   After this task  students devise their own way to calculate the volume of a figure.  Students will have different methods to finding the volume of a figure, and this gives place for student voice and higher level questioning and discussion.  Then the teacher may lead students into the conventional volume formula after students have found it for themselves.

Instead of direct modeler, the teacher takes on more of a facilitator role.  The teacher is responsible for giving students rich, engaging tasks that will guide them into discovering the math content they are trying to teach.  Math class then becomes engaging because of its core of students’ discovery through problem solving, and the learning becomes their own.  Teachers’ role is to provide students with mathematical vocabulary, notation, and convention to express their found ideas.  Teachers should also formatively assess students throughout their learning to gauge the level of challenge that they need to provide for their students.  When a teacher becomes skilled at providing rich lessons for the students, then the students persevere because their interest level is heightened.

Did Bloom’s Taxonomy Change?

According to a certain website and to the administrators at my school Bloom’s Taxonomy did change.  Who knew?  Actually Bloom’s understudy Lorin Anderson altered the taxonomy to be more relevant to the current times.  This new version of Bloom’s taxonomy has been in place since the 90’s.  Synthesis has been removed and Creating has been added as the most difficult level of Bloom’s taxonomy.  Also, Anderson changed all of the taxonomy levels into verbs instead of nouns.  For example, instead of the Knowledge level, Knowledge has been replaced with the verb Understanding.  To view an example of the taxonomy, click here.

Do Government Monopolies Have a Child’s Best Interests at Heart?

In John Stossel’s recent report on public education, he conveys how the government school monopoly does not trust education to the free market even though the free market has made everything else in America great.  Opposing teacher’s unions argue that the parents aren’t real ‘customers’ because they aren’t knowledgeable enough about education.  Stossel’s report implies that if we trust public education to the teachers unions as we have before we will get more of the same–increased funding yet no results shown in improving student achievement.  Teacher’s unions continue to advocate that they are ‘for’ improving education, yet some teacher’s unions are explicit in their thoughts such as one teacher’s union leader who stated, “When school children start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of school children.”

To read more click here.

What Will Improve American Education?

With all of the talk about reforming our schools and standards, we seem to be changing the law but just trading one set of regulations for another.  I, too, hope that the common core standards and current school reform leads us to better educating children.  However, I just read an interesting article that addresses the spirit of the law which seems to be missing from our educational system.  This article by Margaret Spellings of The Huffington Post makes the point that our nation has managed to lead the world in cutting edge discoveries in medicine, technology, and business yet still lags behind other countries educational systems.  Spellings proposes several paradigm shifts in her article.  If American public schools treated parents as clients, and parents were able to move students to the schools that best suited their child, then would the educational system improve?  If teachers were paid not by a scale, but by the amount of work they did and by how skilled they were, then would that improve education?  Ultimately, what if competition drove our school systems and the voice of the clients, would that improve American education?  If the private business sector has become great on these principals, then wouldn’t it work for American education?

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