Things That Come in Groups

I’m sharing a picture from a teacher in our district. Consider how a chart like this can be used with different grade levels and abilities.  Many students will be able name some things that come in groups.  As skills advance, you can have students practice skip counting, thinking about the different items that come in groups.  Eventually, you can use the listed objects to talk about multiplication using models generated by the students.


Math Fluency – Modeling Mathematical Ideas

This is the last in a three part series about mathematical fluency.  The first learning experience for mathematical fluency was Number of the Day.  The second learning experience was solving word problems.
The third learning experience is modeling new mathematical ideas.  I want to emphasize that I’m not necessarily talking about the teacher modeling new mathematical ideas.  We don’t want to impose our thinking on students.  We allow students to model mathematical ideas by providing manipulatives and showing them how to use pictures to model their thinking.  Teachers might demonstrate the use of manipulatives and/or drawings to illustrate children’s thinking as the children are explaining their thinking.  Even if children are explaining incorrect thinking, modeling that thinking can help children see and understand their mistakes. Students who are not able to explain their thinking, may be able to use materials or drawings to show their thinking.
Modeling mathematical ideas also fits with one of the Guiding Principles of Bridges in Mathematics,Visual models help us remember and construct important mathematics.”  
Teaching students to use drawings to model their thinking will not only help build understanding but it will also give them a good strategy to use in testing situations

Math Fluency – Word Problems

Last week’s message was about mathematical fluency.  The first learning experience for mathematical fluency was Number of the Day.  
The second learning experience is solving word problems. Students should be encouraged to act out, use manipulatives, and/or drawings to model and solve word problems.
Here are some resources for word problems:
Bedtime Math posts a new story each day.  The story is followed by a series of questions for “Wee ones,” “Little kids,” “Big kids,” and “The sky’s the limit.”
Math Playground Word Problems – Click on the “Thinking Blocks” for Addition, Multiplication, Fractions, or Ratios to see problems with guidance for using the bar model to solve problems.  Thinking Blocks also has a free apps for iPads.  There are other links for word problems as well.



 Are you fluent in a second (or third) language?  What does it mean to be fluent speaking a language?  Is it just saying words quickly?  To be fluent in a language, you need to understand the structure of the language and meaning of the words.  You also need to be able to speak with expression and choose just the right word, depending on the context and your audience, to convey your meaning.  
     The same is true of math fluency.  It’s much more than being able to add, subtract, multiply, and divide quickly.  To be truly fluent in math, you need to understand how numbers are related to each other  and you need to be flexible in choosing a strategy, depending on the numbers you are working with.  
     A recent article in Teaching Children Mathematics suggests three types of learning experiences that will help students become fluent with numbers.  The first learning experience is Number of the Day  also known as Today’s Number.  This activity can be done as a class; using a poster, bulletin board or SmartBoard, or students can be giving individual sheets to complete. This is a great activity to include in your daily routine.  It is easy to differentiate by giving different numbers to different students or using the same number for the class and having each person do something different with the number.  Check out the following links for pictures of Number of the Day Charts.
 These might give you some ideas for Number of the Day activities you can do to meet the specific needs of your students.


Minnesota Academic Standards for Mathematics

Minnesota does not use the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics.  The Minnesota Academic Standards for Mathematics are attached to this post.  2007_Standards_by_topic

This document is helpful for seeing how skills and concepts develop through the grades. If a child is not achieving a grade level standard, this document can help you determine the prerequisite skills and understandings that need to be acquired.

Another resource that will be helpful in learning more about the Minnesota Academic Standards for Mathematics, is

For a very quick tour (1 minute, 15 seconds) of the site, watch this video

Getting to Know You

At the start of a new school year, it’s exciting to learn about your students. For math instruction, we want to know about their math skills and understanding, their attitudes about math, and general information about the student. The more you know about your students, the easier it will be to make math meaningful for them.
Here are some questions you can ask as a writing task or as part of a conversation:

The following questions are adapted from How to Differentiate Your Math Instruction: Lessons, Ideas, and Videos with Common Core Support, Grades K-5, by Linda Dacey, Jayne Bamford Lynch,and Rebeka Eston Salemi:
– If you could learn anything in school, what would you choose?
– What do you know a lot about?
– How do you work best in school? ____alone____partner____small group___large group
– What helps you learn?
– What makes it hard for you to learn?
– Math is important to learn because…
– When I am learning math, I feel…
– One thing I am good at in math is…
– One thing I am not good at yet in math is…

For a fun activity for your students that gets everyone doing some math and getting to know more about each other, check out this link