Monday, June 27, 2011

Ed Emberley!!

Math and art oh boy!! Two of the books that were shared at the recent math conference I attended were Picture Pie 1 and Picture Pie 2 by Ed Emberley. OMG. What great ideas for teaching geometry, parts of a whole, spatial sense and so much more! Not to mention excellent fine motor skill practice with all of the tracing and cutting involved!! He shows you how to divide shapes into fractional pieces to create animals, designs, flowers, clowns and SO MUCH more!!

 Some cute creations from the conference. Us adults had so much fun-haha!

The activities in these books sort of remind me of TLC Art projects except now I am looking at them through a math lens. Isn’t it funny how lessons/activities change based off how you are looking at and thinking about them?!

I plan to use these books next year to teach shapes, fractions (fold the circle in half once and what do you have? ½ …fold that in half again and what do you have? ¼) The creativity and brilliant visuals of these activities are sure to get my students excited about math!! Look at this and this and this!! Again, you can find these activities and many more over at Ed Emberley's website. Click on activities and have a look around!! 

How do you get your students excited about math while teaching these hard to understand, yet oh so important concepts?! I'd love to hear! 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Math on The Brain!!

 I have been attending a math conference this week and man oh man…I never thought I could spend 8 hours a day learning about math AND then coming home to want to work on how this is really going to look in my classroom, but here I am!! 

Again, my school is going to start Investigations in the fall. So far I have noticed that there are 2 major points that are different in Investigations than what we are used to and currently doing.

1 WHAT concepts are taught (quality vs. quantity) Number sense is done over and over and over again because research shows this is where kids get completely lost in the older grades if not mastered in the beginning. No more fact memorizing…this does not transfer when kids are asked to do higher level thinking. I honestly wish I was taught with a bigger idea concept in mind way back when I was a little one. I feel as if I have to un-learn most of what I know about numbers and their relationships with each other. 

2. HOW the concepts are taught. Investigations is taught through the Math Workshop format as opposed to whole group instruction.

What does this mean for the teachers at our school?! I think it means we really need to re-learn mathematical concepts to make sure we are confident in the content we will be teaching. The leaders from the Institute of Math Teachers have really emphasized that perseverance is a giant component of math. They keep telling us to not be so quick to “help” the child that is struggling because students need to understand that working towards the answer is a KEY part of the process. If they don’t get the answer the first, second or maybe even third time they need to have the resilience to continue trying. Patience will need to be a priority for sure!

 I also think it means we need to be ready to experiment, practice and MAKE MISTAKES! For many of the teachers at my school (myself included) this will be the first time doing a true Math Workshop format. It is much less teacher based and MUCH more student centered. I know I’m behind on the times, but hey it’s never too late…right? :/

That sounds all great, but WHERE DO WE START?!

I think the first place I need to start is setting up the classroom to fit a Math Workshop learning environment. This is where I come to you my bloggy friends…How do you organize your math manipulatives? Does each table/group of students have their own container with each different set of manipulatives or do you have math tubs with baggies of the manipulatives separated for each group?

Investigations is big on student choice stations. Again, that sounds wonderful, but how do you manage and track which station each child has visited? A work board or individual tracking sheets?! I’m sorry if I sound like I am over thinking this…I just know come September I am going to be so overwhelmed with setting up my classroom, back to school routines, meeting my new little babies etc. I want to try and map this out now and not wait until then. 

In preparation for the first unit: How Many of Each? I have taken the game Collect 20 Together and tweaked it a bit. I hope you can use this with your kids!

Thank you for listening to my rant-haha! Sometimes I just need to get it out and then I am ready to plan my next move!

I am looking forward to this new adventure, but definitely have my work cut out for myself!! DEEP breaths Erin- I can do this!! ;)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Math Madness!!

So school ended on Friday and it was REALLY hard saying goodbye to my babies!! I did it though and made them all promise to come and visit me when they are big bad second graders. I don’t know what the heck I was thinking, but I had signed up for a math conference starting today and going all the way until Thursday. AHHH!!! I spent the entire day with Mathematicians and math teachers from the Institute For Teaching Mathematics. Who ever knew math could be described as beautiful?! Man they are a different breed!!- haha!

My school will be switching to Investigations in the fall and it seems to be very different than what we have now. I am eager to see how it will go. What program do you guys have at your schools?

Anyway, I have A LOT of new ideas and projects I am working on, but I wanted to post a GREAT video I just found on If you haven’t been over to that site yet….GO NOW!!!

I hope to share with you some of my creations this week. I hope everyone is resting, relaxing and enjoying their summer break!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Math Websites/Games

Hi friends! This is my last week in school and man do I have A LOT to do!! My entire first grade team and I need to pack up our classrooms because they are re-doing our ceilings. UGGGH!!! This is SO not going to be fun! :(

Over the course of the year I have sent home math websites on my weekly homework letters. They are typically games for the kids to play to review the topic we are covering that week. I had a few parents request all of the sites on one piece of paper. They said they really liked them and wanted their kids to use them over the summer.

I also plan on putting together a list of suggested ipad apps for those parents who have them. Hopefully I will post that list this week also.

Hope everyone is enjoying their week!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

ActivBoard Conference

So it is a whopping 94 degrees here in NYC and I feel like I am MELTING!!! My friend Nancy (Hi darling!) and I went to an ActivBoard conference today. We had to go all the way uptown to Harlem and just in case you were wondering...there was NO AC!!! EHHH-YIKES! However, we did manage to learn a few tips and tricks. Plus we had amazing soul food at Harlem’s BBQ and highly recommend it if you’re in the area! 

One of the ActivEducators told us about an author on Promethean Planet who makes awesome resources for flipcharts at NO COST!!! Those of you that have ActivBoards need to become familiar with Promethean Planet because it is a wonderful resource for already made flipcharts and accessories if you want to create your own. The best part is most of them are FREE!!! Anyway, I am constantly on there searching for flipcharts I can tweak to fit my students’ needs (why re-invent the wheel…right?!) The author’s name is Kelly Gilchrist and you can search for her resources right where it says Search Resources (I promise it’s that easy!) I don’t know who this Ms. Gilchrist is, but I am glad I found out about her. I cannot wait to use her ready-made stuff next year!!! Thank you Kelly!!

Do any of you have ActivBoards in your classrooms? What are some of your favorite things to do with them? 

I cannot wait until summer break so I can finally have some time to blog, and create new learning materials for my new group of little people! Oh and let's not forget some time to relax and recharge...ahhh sooooo excited!  :)

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