Friday, July 29, 2016

It's Back to School Time ~ 2 Freebies and a TPT Gift Card Giveaway

Hello, friends. Thank you for stopping by Pam's Place. It is hard to believe the start of the school year is just around the corner.

I wanted to share two freebies with you that I have in my TpT store that you might like to add to your teacher toolbox for the start of the school year. Also you have a chance to win at $10 TPT Gift Card!

Back to School - Get to Know You Activities has two printable games to get students interacting and talking with each other the first few days of school. These activities encourage students to learn more about each other as they share information about themselves.

School Days will get the creative juices of your students flowing! Roll-a-Cube is a way to engage students in reviewing language skills and applying these skills to short writing tasks. The skills included on the Roll-a-Cube: onomatopoeia, personification, comparison, imagery, exaggeration, and dialogue using quotes.

Thank you to all of who stopped by Pam's Place and participated in the giveaway. It was exciting to read all the school supplies listed. Who doesn't like new school supplies right?!!

Wishing you all a GREAT start to the school year! 

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Mathematical Mindsets: Chpt. 4

Almost halfway through Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler. So much mathematical information to process and think about. Starting to tuck away ideas to implement next school year, which is not so far away. Let's take a look at Chapter 4, Creating Mathematical Mindsets: The Importance of Flexibility with Numbers.

Mathematics is a conceptual domain. It is not, as many people think, a list of facts and methods to be remembered. ~Jo Boaler (36) 

Key Takeaway: Math facts are best learned through the use of numbers in different ways and different situations. The goal is to help students develop number sense where they can think about numbers flexibly using different combinations. Timed math tests should be replaced with conceptual mathematical activities. Activities where students play with numbers and begin to see relationships and patterns of numbers. Check out "Fluency without Fear" for some ideas to implement in the classroom and grow students understanding of math facts. The point that really resonated with me in this chapter was when Boaler explained that readers do indeed need to memorize the meaning of many words (41), but it is not the fast memorization and recall of words. Math facts is a hot topic that can be a mind shift for some teachers and some parents alike.

Classroom Connection:
  • In the area of math practice, more is not always better. Synapses fire when learning takes place, not when doing repetitive practice of isolated methods in their simplest form. When having students practice math, reduce the number of problems to practice. A whole page of practice is not necessary.
  • Students need to be introduced to math beyond its simplest form that is often seen in textbooks. For example when identifying geometric shapes, students need to see many, varied examples, not just regular polygons that are the "perfect" example of each shape. Students should see different examples and non-examples. Jo Boaler mentioned how perfect examples can lead to misconceptions. I recall a time when learning about types of angles. Rather than draw a right angle opening to the right, I drew a right angle that opened to the left. Some students did not think it was a right angle and even questioned, "Why isn't that a left angle"From that point forward, I now draw angles that open to the right, left, up, and down.
  •  With the integration of technology into more and more classrooms, it is important to think about choosing apps and games that develop a conceptual approach to math. I visited the website, Youcubed, and followed the link for math apps and games. There are a handful of games to view. This is a great starting point for building a bank of more conceptual based apps and games that do not rely on computation and speed.
Next week chapter is a good one. Chapter 5 talks about rich mathematical tasks. See you then!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Mathematical Mindsets: Chpt. 3

So glad you stopped by for the third week of the book study for Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler. If you asked your students, "What is math?" What kind of responses would you get? Would students say answering questions by adding, subtracting, multiplying, and/or dividing? Would they say problem solving and reasoning? In Chapter 3 the focus is on math...the creativity and beauty in mathematics.

"In order to understand the universe you must know the language in which it is written and that language is mathematics.” -Galileo Galilei

Key Takeaway: Mathematics is all around us. Mathematics needs to move beyond a textbook with right and wrong answers. If we look closely, we can see the mathematics of nature. We can investigate how animals, yes animals, use math. We can see the beauty in art. There is even the National Museum of Mathematics in New York.

Classroom Connections:
How do we help our students to see the beauty and creativity in math?
  • To start the year and to engage learners, I read Math Curse by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith. It does a great job to help students realize that math is around them EVERYWHERE! The book starts out, "On Monday in math class, Mrs. Fibonacci says, 'YOU KNOW, you can think of almost everything as a math problem.'" Before I read on, I ask students what they think the teacher means. They are quite surprised as I begin to read the story, reading faster and faster as I turn the pages. The text and the illustrations bombard students with how the main character in the story gets tangled up in math problems with every turn of the page. It makes the point that math is everywhere!
  • Another picture book that piques students' interest is Mathterpieces: The Art of Problem-Solving by Greg Tang. In this book, twelve artists are featured. Each piece of art is paired with a problem that focuses on addition for younger students and problem solving in multiple ways for older students. The art piece is featured on one page, and then groups of objects on the adjoining page to find a sum in different ways. The connection relates to the art piece subtlty but the novelty hooks learners. This is just one way to bring art into the math classroom.
  • Rather than pose questions that require a calculation and an answer (29), math needs to be more. It does not mean "faster is better." Math needs to be about collaboration and deep thinking. Using open math problems (29) helps students develop creative ways to problem solve. Flipping questions traditionally found in a textbook to open math problems is one way to move students to think about math differently. Sometimes students feel uncomfortable with these types of problems because there is no one right answer.
In a bag there are coins (quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies) that add up to $1.00.
Penny pulls out 33 cents.
What coins did Penny pull out?
How much would be left in the bag?
What coins would be left in the bag?
Math really is a beautiful thing! Thanks for stopping by Pam's Place. Next week the chapter is on flexibility with numbers. See you then!

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Mathematical Mindsets: Chapter 2

Welcome to Week 2, Chapter 2 of Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler. This week the chapter was on mistakes. Thank you to Kathie from Tried and True Teaching Tools for hosting this book study.

In Chapter 2, The Power of Mistakes and Struggle, Boaler puts the spotlight on the importance of mistakes. For some, this is a whole mind shift on how parents, students, and teachers should perceive mistakes. Mistakes are evidence of learning.

Key Takeaway: According ot Carol Dweck, "Every time a student makes a mistake in math, they grow a synapse."  Yes, mistakes cause the brain to spark and grow. When the brain is challenged, the brain grows the most (11-12).

Classroom Connections:
  • Mistakes happen to the best of us. It is important for students to understand this. Sharing famous people and athletes who have made mistakes/failed and how they overcame those obstacles can be tangible evidence that it takes mistakes/failure to be the best. Two quotes I often share with my students are these associated with Thomas Edison and Michael Jordan. 
    • Thomas Edison: I've not failed. I have found 10,000 ways that won't work. 
    • Michael Jordan: I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times I've been and trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed. (Here is a YouTube video for this quote: Michael Jordan video.)
  • Creating posters of Peter Sims's Habits of Successful People (14) can help to remind students to play with math and approach math differently. It would be important to explicitly talk about each habit so students know what each "looks" like and "sounds" like.
    • Feel comfortable being wrong
    • Try seemingly wild ideas
    • Are open to different experiences
    • Play with ideas without judging them
    • Are willing to go against traditional ideas
    • Keep going through difficulties 
  • Mistakes happen. Having students analyze their mistakes can be helpful. Was the mistake a silly mistake, a math mistake, or a process mistake? Here is an image of an anchor chart similar to one students keep as a reference: Math Mistakes.
Ultimately, we want our students to feel comfortable with making mistakes and learning from them. Mistakes are opportunities for learning! Come back next week for Chapter 3, The Creativity and Beauty in Mathematics.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Mathematical Mindsets: Chapter 1

So excited to begin this book study hosted by Kathie at Tried and True Teaching Tools. So hoping you enjoy the posts on Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler.

I know there has been a lot of buzz about growth mindset so the title of this book intrigued me. How can we help all students develop a mathematical mindset? Let the discussion begin...

In chapter 1, The Brain and Mathematics Learning, Boaler begins with research. I have taken one of her online courses, and I know supporting ideas with research is her thing. Boaler begins with her claim that the brain can CHANGE, ADAPT, and GROW (4)! This is great news for teachers. If the right math materials are used and if students receive positive messages about their potential/ability, students can journey towards a mathematical mindset.

Key Takeaway: One recommendation by Boaler is to praise students for what they DO rather than who they are as a person (8). Flipping how teachers praise students can make a difference.

 "That is an amazing piece of work."
"You have thought deeply about this piece."
"It is wonderful to see how you learned this."

Classroom Connections:
  • Growth mindset. Messages students receive can impact their self perception. Intentionally teaching students about the difference between fixed mindset and growth mindset is important. Explicitly teaching students about the different mindsets can help make what growth mindset "looks" like and "sounds" like more tangible. Creating a classroom environment that surrounds students with growth mindset messages is key. Pinterest is full of different ideas to help support this in the classroom. Here are some ideas I posted to one of my Pinterest boards: Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset.
  • Mistakes. How important they are! Rather than see mistakes as failure, students need to realize they are a pathway to learning. Helping students to see the importance and relevance of mistakes is important and has to be intentional. One strategy I like to use is, "My Favorite No." Check out the video here: My Favorite No: Learning from Mistakes from the Teaching Channel. Although it is recommended for grades 6-8, it can be modified and used with other grades in a manner that fits the readiness levels of the students.
  •  Regardless where our comfort level is with math, it is beneficial for students when we, their teachers, approach math with confidence and enthusiasm (8). By passing this onto students, it can help students view math as reachable and enjoyable (9). Isn't that what we want for all our students? 
Thanks for stopping by Pam's Place. I look forward to sharing with you strategies Jo Boaler outlines in her book in the coming weeks. Stop by next Thursday as I talk about "The Power of Mistakes and Struggle," chapter 2.