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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Good Questions for Math Teaching K-6 week 3

I've really been enjoying reading the Good Question Books!  I absolutely love all the great examples they give and can't wait to share them with my teachers in August... yes, August 4th to be exact! YIKES

If you haven't had a chance to join us in our double book study yet, you aren't too late!  You can pick up the two books by clicking the links below AND the past two weeks posts are at the end to help you catch up!



Okay, here's how it will work -  each week one of the four of us will "host" a section on our blog.  This week's section will be from the K-6 book and will be hosted by Meg from The Teacher's Studio  Just head over there, read her post, and comment with your thoughts on the section.  Meg will lead the discussion and the other three of us will chime in and try to keep the discussion rolling!  We'd LOVE to have you join us!!

Make sure to head over to Megs blog today (link above and below!) or click on one of the past links to catch up





Week 5: K-6 Book with Meg Anderson - Word on the street is there may be an AWESOME FREEBIE ON THIS POST!

Week 6: 5-8 Book with Jennifer Smith-Sloane

Week 7: K-6 Book with Jennifer Findley

Weekk 8: 5-8 Book with Jamie Riggs


Monday, July 7, 2014

Monday Made It - summer organization and a new office photo/message board

I wasn't sure that I would be able to link up with Tara from 4th Grade Frolics this week, but I ended up spending some time yesterday making MMI #2, and MMI #1 isn't so much a "made it" but an "organized it"... I know, a bit of a stretch, but whatevs :)
Click the picture to go to the link up!

Our garage is often ignored.... VERY, VERY ignored.... it may even have stuff randomly thrown in it so that we don't have to deal with it at the time being.  Yes... I know it's ridiculous To say that our garage is gross is an understatement.  To say that I was NOT looking forward to cleaning/organizing it is even more of an understatement.
 I promised my husband on Monday that I would tackle the garage on Tuesday.  I knew if I said it outloud that I would be held to it....  So, Tuesdya morning, I got up and ofcourse it was 90+ degrees already and the humidity was pretty much 100%.  I grabbed a huge pitcher of water, kept the dog inside and went on my mission.  Almost 3 hours, a gallon of water, and a ridiculous amount of trash later (sorry trash guys!) the garage was complete!  Woooo!



While out in the garage, I went through all my teaching supplies and pulled out all the books that have been sitting on bookshelves for the past 10 years that I have NOT used (I gave a ton away at the end of the school year) and decided to go through them to see what I could sell on Amazon!  4 boxes and 3 piles later, my MIL and I dwindled this mess down to about 20 books.  The rest were donated to a local GoodWill. 
 I ended up with a very organized garage, a heap of garbage (that was all taken away Saturday morning) and room to fit BOTH cars in the garage!  WOOO!!  Now... I wonder how long we can keep it looking this nice?!

I recently saw this pin on Pinterest and was pretty excited to see that it linked directly back to a Fabric craft site!  Woooo free color pdf download with directions and material list... I was soooo ready to make this! 
Yesterday afternoon, after a tasty lunch with hubs, I headed to Michael's to see if I could make this "pin" happen.  I found some fun chevron canvas (not really a burlap fan), a new tinting product, AND a $40 picture frame on sale for $10 - HECK YES! 

First, I came home and printed off the free pdf from the crafting website.  Then I did a few quick cuts with my rotary board and it was time to create! 
White seemed like it would get too dirty with moving cards and pictures in and out of the photo/message board but I really liked the canvas design.  THEN I came across the coolest new product called TintIT - which is like spray paint, but a spray dye.  It dyes the white fabric whichever color you chose (came in about 10 colors!) and it dries super fast.  At this point I grabbed a piece of scrap fabric to see if this was too good to be true (it wasn't)!!
 Took the canvas and TintIT outside, to be properly ventilated, and started spraying.
 Ended up with a nice light green.  I noticed the longer it sat, the darker the fabric got.  But decided to spray a bit more on to get a nice, rich, lime color!
 Can you believe this is the same fabric?  One yard was enough to have 2 "cuts" worth for this project.  I was happy to know that I had a back up just in case!
 Once it dried (about 5 minutes), I used a slightly warm iron to get out the wrinkles, then started folding.  I didn't follow the pattern I printed off exactly because I wanted the chevrons to match up with opposite colors for a more  uniform look. 
 As I finished each layer, I ironed in a nice crease.  I was worried to make the iron too hot, as I did just spray a flammable liquid all over the fabric.... warm worked well though. 
 After getting all the pockets where I wanted them, I removed the pins and put plexi-glass back in.
At this point, I was thankful that the back of the frame would cover this sloppy work.  I used a lime painters tape (couldn't find any other tape!!) and pulled the canvas tight  before securing.
 Then I wedged that into the frame and covered the back with the original frame backing.
 Flipped it over to reveal my new photo.message board and ....
Then added in some random pieces of love from around the house so you (and I) could get an idea of what this will look like in my office.   
I'm pretty much in love!  What do you think?!  

The chrevons didn't line up nearly as well as I thought I would get them to... but I'm dealing with it.  I'm not letting myself get batty because I am picturing all of the fun pictured and cards that I plan to cover this with!

Hmmmmm... I need a new idea for this week!  Now I'm headed to over to see what all of my bloggin' friends came up with!  

Oh!  Also, don't forget last week's MMI had a math freebie in it!!  Link here!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Math IS Real Life - July 2014 Edition!

It's the first Wednesday of July which means it's time for our monthly linky - Math IS Real Life!!  If you want to see how the linky works, or just want other real world math ideas, check out our Pinterest Board of all the posts so that you can look back and find some great ideas and REAL pictures to use in your classroom!  

If you are linking up, please include the below picture AND a link back to all four of our blogs - feel free to use the 2nd image and the links listed below!


A monthly REAL WORLD math blog link-up hosted by


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If you read my post from Monday, when I linked up with Monday Made It, you already know what my MiRL is for this month.  If you didn't read that post, let me catch you up!

 One of my good friends, Marie, and I have talked about making homemade Spanakopita for years.  Recently, before heading home to Cleveland for the summer, we decided that we needed to make this cheesy spinachy goodness for lunch and we dove in! I didn't go into the details of how we made the spanakopita there because I didn't want to spoil anything on this post...... Soooo, this post will be a combo Math IS Real Life with lots of extra details to fill in my Monday Made It people! AND if you stick with all the details until the end, there will be a great freebie that will help promote mathematical discourse in your classroom (and can be used at many, many grade levels!)

Here we go!

First, we needed to defrost the spinach and the phyllo dough!  We used our estimation skills to figure out how long it would take and in the mean-time  bought a movie to watch OnDemand  Elapsed time 2 hours!
Once everything was defrosted, the fun began!  First we separately the spinach and used the hand food processor to chop the onions (no crying here!)
Then we crumbled the feta and added it to the spinach.
Next came the onions!
Then the egg mix
Then we combined all that cheesy goodness together and some more math happened!
We melted some butter and started layering the phyllo dough one layer at a time in the 13x9 pan. Spreading the butter reminded me of conversations I have with my kiddos all the time about real world area applications.
Phyllo, butter, phyllo, butter, phyllo, butter..... compounding layers of area created volume!  What a neat way to show volume to kiddos.... I may have to bring phyllo dough and butter in to show this in a tasty way!
After layering 10 pieces of phyllo and butter, it was time to spread (area) the spinachy goodness over the buttery goodness
Then it was time to layer 10 more pieces of phyllo and buttery goodness!
A little tuck-the-phyllo-in action all around the edges (creating faces of a prism)
And then there were some decisions to be made.... how many servings were we going to slice this into?  Should I score the phyllo in the middle?
Should I try to score the phyllo into thirds?
What about diagnonal scores?
In the end we decided that 4 people would probably be eating this deliciousness, and we wanted to make it look "fancy" (the more scores the prettier the phyllo peels back...) so we cut the spanakopita in half, then each half in half, then we cut half lengthwise (making 8 servings) and then we cut each of those servings in half diagonally.
Next, we used our oven thermometer and knowledge of time to cook the spanakopita until it was golden-y delicious!
Doesn't that look amazing?!
And ofcourse, we had to try some out!  Yummy!
You stuck around and read my entire blog post!  THANKS!!  You totally deserve a FREEBIE now!!  Yep, you read that right.... I made a freebie on cutting serving sizes.  This can be used at MANY grade levels - just depends on how deep you want to go with it it!  Younger grades will be able to subdivide, middle grades can justify their answers by showing what the area is, upper students may be able to justify their answers using variables to generalize!

Check it out!  Click the picture to go straight to the link!

A HUGE, HUGE thank you to Danielle Westavang at CrayonBox Learning for creating my custom spanakopita clip art!!  I LOVE IT!


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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Good Questions for Math Teaching 5-8 week 2

I hope you've been following along with our Summer 2014 Double Book Study so far.  If not, here are the links to get caught up before you scroll down and see what I have to say about Number Releationships; Multiplication and Proportional Reasoning 





Okay, all caught up?  Good... let's rock and roll then!

Mathematics is all about relationships!  And when we ask our students questions about these relationships we begin a pathway of curiosity for our students.  Students don't inately HATE math.... they learn to hate math.  We, as teachers, have a responsibility to ask the questions that help keep our kiddos curious.  Curiousity is the key to engagement and the key to NOT hating math....

One of my favorite parts of this book is that they not only give you amazing content rich questions to ask your kiddos, they also give you the black line master activities that they use in their questioning examples.  Seriously - they give you almost everything you need to go back to your classroom and begin working to build your students' curiosity!

5 Number Relationships & 6 Multiplication and Proportional Reasoning 

Both chapters are broken into two parts 5th/6th grade and 7th/8th grade.  Both sections of CH 5 give very specific examples on how to work with number theory.  (I only wish I had learned this way when I was in elementary / middle school).  Both sections of CH 6 give very specific examples on how to develop a deeper conceptual understanding of multiplication and division.

"We need to listen very carefully to the mathematical talk of our students to support their correct use of the terminology" (Schuster, 17).

Schuster really hits the nail on the head with this statement!  Our biggest role as a teacher needs to be that of a facilitator. We need to choose tasks that are student appropriate and centered that allow students to discuss their thinking AND allow us to step back and help facililate the discussion.  We need to be comfortable enough in our roles to allow students to take center stage!  In doing so, we need to 

"carefully craft questions that probe the depth of the children's understanding, which may be initially fragile..." (Schuster, 18).

Schuster subtly makes a point that many tend to forget.  Jumping into the world of student-centered tasks with rich math talk is NOT an overnight victory.  Setting up a classroom that is ready for this type of learning takes time AND takes patience. 

I love all the connections that are being made in this book.  Shuster takes the time to not only present great content rich questions but also takes the time to connect the the number theory to geometric and graphical reasoning.

"Although procedural competency is an important goal in the teaching of multiplication and division, the questions... are designed to promote and establish further conceptual understanding and knowledge of these operations..." (Schuster, 31).

I recently saw a video at a conference about a girl named Sasha.  Sasha clearly understood HOW to rotely divide but once probed for further understanding it was very clear that she had no idea what division meant, how to see if her answer was reasonable, or what connection any of this had with place value.  On the surface Sasha "knew" what she was doing and more than likely would pass any standardized test you gave her... but she had no connection to why anything worked and was just going through the motions.  Sasha was probably going to be one of those students who would accelerate through math and eventually will hit a wall where just working through the motions would no longer help her.  Sasha clearly had not sat in a classroom with 'carefully crafted questions'.  We had a long discussion about Sasha and how we as educators are failing her.  (I'm still looking for the video, but am not sure that it is on the internet... if I find it, I'll post it!)

Okay, enough from me... let's get some discussion going!

Reflection:  
Can you see yourself using any of the activities in these sections?  Which one(s), why?
What questions are you still not comfortable letting students explore on their own?
How are you already using 'carefully crafted questions' in your classroom?  If you are not, what's holding you back?
What parts of this section made you reflect on your own teaching practices?
Do you know any "Sasha's?" 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Monday Made It; math art, spanakopita, and mathy earrings! (and a freebie!)

One of my favorite parts of summer is being able to link up EVERY Monday with Tara from 4th Grade Frolics. 
Click the picture to go tot he link up!

You may have noticed, however, that I have yet to link up this summer.... I just haven't had time to make anything substantial yet!  However, I have had a few small projects that I've been working on AND I have a HUGE project that I plan to work on in July and cannot wait to post about it in August (probably as my MiRL for that month!)

Anyhoo... here are a few of the smaller things I've been working on :)

Just a few days ago, I posted my Summer Reading List and briefly talked about my excitement of being a full time Instructional Math Coach this year!  Instead of spending my summer thinking about how I want to change my classroom around, I'm thinking about what I want my office to look like.  Yeah, I get an office!  Thankfully, I spent a ton of time packing up my classroom, giving stuff away, and bringing stuff home at the end of summer to prepare for the downsize. 

I decided my office needed to be decked out in math art!  The other day I bought a really cool piece off of Etsy from Letters of Love Designs that I can't wait to arrive so I can post about it and show it off!  And yesterday when I was shopping around Big Lots I stumbled over a new piece that I instantly fell in love with and had to have!!

It's 30"x 36" and it's going to look amazing on the wall!

A few nights before I found this mathematically awesome piece of art, I was wide awake but not really wanting to be productive.  Soooo... I decided to play around with some of the amazing fonts I have and created this:

http://bit.ly/MMDmathart
If you click on this picture, it will take you to a link where you can download it for yourself, FREE!  The same picture has 4 different boarders so you can decide which one you like the best :)  I plan to print it on a vibrant color and put it in a simple black frame :)  I hope you enjoy it!

One of my good friends, Marie, and I have talked about making homemade Spanakopita for years.  Recently, before heading home to Cleveland for the summer, we decided that we needed to make this cheesy spinachy goodness for lunch and we dove in!  I won't go into details here because the July version of Math IS Real Life will show you tons of pictures, relate the task to mathematics (an not just as a recipe) AND there will be a great freebie that will help promote mathematical discourse in your classroom (and can be used at many, many grade levels!)
http://www.missmathdork.com/2014/07/math-is-real-life-july-2014-edition.html
Click on the picture to go to the MiRL post (post will be live on July 2nd)
If you know anything about me, you know that I LOVE fun, nerdy, math earrings.... so over the past few months, I've been dabbling in creating jewelry (well, I should say that I pick out what I want made, and my amazing Mother-in-law, Judy, helps make it happen!)

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Missmathdork/Category/Mathy-Earrings-Teaching-Accessories
 My personal favorites of the bunch (and the ones I wear a ton...) are the abacus, the bright dice and the rulers.   Aren't they adorable?! I'm still working on getting them all posted, but I'm hoping that by putting them on my blog that will get me in gear!!

Okay... I'm headed out to read more posts and see what all my teacher friends are spending their summer making!  Make sure to check out Math IS Real Life on Wednesday! 

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