Friday, December 4, 2015

Choral Counting in Kindergarten

I had the opportunity to work with some kindergarteners this week and last. We were working on seeing 5 groups and groups of 10 in numbers.

To start each lesson, I tried some quick choral counting (I read about it at and heard about it at NCTM in Boston).

On the day for 5 groups, I recorded their counting in rows of 5 under the document camera. Then, I asked what they noticed. They saw "counting by 5s" in the last column, but then they saw "counting by 4 next to it...  I said "hmm, let's think about that..." Then we did the rest of the lesson and returned to this at the end. We used counting on to see how much to add to 4 to get 9 and then from 9 to 14.

A week later, I recorded in rows of 10. They noticed lots of repeating numbers. They saw counting by tens in the last column, but didn't see the differences of 10 in the other columns. I chose to use a different color for the noticing on the tens digit in the row for the 30s. I took more time on this day and they noticed even more.

I'd like to try this again with other numbers. It was a quick way to get them all focused and with us with a mathematical goal, too.  I'd like to try it with older students, counting by fourths.

Teaching kindergarten is an amazing thing. Teachers have to manage so many things! And stay positive and fun. I tied 3 shoes in half an hour. So much to do! But fun to hear their thinking.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Grades 4-5 Math Practices Workshop on 9/25/15

It's been a busy start to the school year! I started this post on Saturday, September 26th, the day after this workshop...

I got to work with all of our 4th and 5th grade teachers on the Math Practices and Performance Tasks at the end of September.

Here's what we did:

  • Introductions (shared favorite fall activity)
  • Agenda (lunch at 11:30!)
  • Norms and Learning Targets
  • Rock, Paper, Scissors Team Icebreaker (I learned it comes from the Playworks training, but I learned it from a Callahan Consultant)
  • Do the Dew 3 - Act from @gfletchy (Only a handful of teachers had heard of 3-acts, so this was a great way to intro - I wish I'd provided more links and time to explore them.)
  • Math Practices Jigsaw and Claim 4 Mapping (MP Grid and Claims
  • Brain Science video from Jo Boaler
  • Time to explore math practices and youcubed resources, followed by a gallery walk
  • Lunch break
  • Split into 4th and 5th grade groups to do a sample Performance Task
  • Shared updates from Smarter Balanced and the Oregon Test Administration Manual
  • Time to explore SBAC resources, followed by another gallery walk (accountability helped them use the time)
  • More time to explore and then inside/outside circle for sharing
  • Review, share SIOP strategies:
  • Evaluations, etc.
I should have spent more time explaining the Smarter Balanced claims (and included claims 2 and 3), but I liked the activity connecting them to the math practices. The teachers worked in groups of 8 so there were lots of voices to share ideas about the practices and claims.

The best thing to come out of this was requests for individual and team coaching. I'm now working with teachers on assessments, differentiation, and using manipulatives in their classrooms. After three years in this role, I'm finally feeling like I'm getting to the real work. I had to build relationships and be patient first.

If anyone is reading this... what activities would you recommend for learning about the CCSS math practices and performance tasks?

Thursday, August 6, 2015


Oregon Math Leaders Conference Recap
August 2-4, 2015

Board Meeting-budgets, committees, action plans, motions, seconds, and passing

Opening keynote - Ricky Robertson "choose love in your practice."

Pentagames session - I shared information about the Oregon Pentagames contest with Jennifer Cox. We only had 3 attendees, but they seemed happy to hear more about Pentagames.  More info at

Random Acts of Math - I shared resources for K-2 teachers (10 attended - including one of my former teachers - and current mentor).
  • Number Talks 
  • Parent Involvement
  • #tmwyk
  • #ElemMathChat

Awards and Social was a place to honor the giants of Oregon math education and then network. I wish more people had stuck around.

State of the state updates from Oregon Department of Education are always helpful.
"Let's start thinking in the thousands, not hundreds, of teachers to impact changing their practice."
-Mark Freed
Area meetings are a chance to brainstorm and plan events for math teachers in our area.
I attended a great session on using the math practices to differentiate.

More time in area meetings. We submitted tasks to ODE for use with the Oregon Math Network:
I attended another great session on involving students in formative assessment (and revising their work).

The closing keynote seemed like an ad for Apple. The apps from the Algebraic Thinking Project are great. I wish he'd emphasized those and not flipping classrooms...

As usual, I came home exhausted, but thoughtful.


Area Reps

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

#TMC15 Recap

I got back a few days ago from my first Twitter Math Camp. I've been to lots of math conferences, but this one is special. I think I'll just make a list of thoughts. If you want the resources, go to the TMC wiki page.

All of us are smarter than one of us.
It's about the community, stupid.
No one cares.
But, everyone cares...
Some people are introverts and need a break. It's okay.
The way teachers talk about instruction is important.
How can you change your questioning to avoid yes/no answers?
Elementary teachers have a unique and difficult job - high school teachers can learn from them (and want to!) - we need to engage in more vertical conversations.
The conversations between the sessions can have the biggest impact.

A few personal revelations:
@wahdabug is taller and less blonde than I expected.
@mathymeg07 is sweet and kind (and probably a good driver at home).
@bstockus knows what he's talking about, but is nice about it.
@gfletchy uses different vocabulary late at night.
@JSchwartz10A needs think time, but has lots to say that makes me think.
@mswright2 is fun to travel with.

Twitter Math Camp was a guilty pleasure. I have a similar community with my Oregon Math Leaders and OCTM connections. But, seeing another way to run a conference is always good for me. And I loved meeting

Conference planning ideas (some are hard to do with 1200, but work well for less than 200):
Start on time (I tend to, but be explicit about it)
Flex sessions (add things that come up)
Speed dating (mix them up and make them talk!)
My favorites (kind of like our math-a-rama, but for anyone, not just pre-service teachers)
Social events
Slide show at the closing session (tell people about it and ask them to submit pictures)

Twitter Math Camp was like this salad, looks like cheese on the top, but there's plenty of good-for-you lettuce underneath.

Thanks to everyone that made TMC15 happen (@lmhenry9 in particular)!

K-12 Fraction Fun

So, I may have oversold this session with "fun" in the title, but 5 people showed up (still not sure why they weren't at Vertical Non-Permanent Surfaces...). This was my original idea for a TMC (Twitter Math Camp) session. And it also came out of some Twitter conversations.

But, as it got closer, I thought, "wait, didn't I do something similar for Instructional Assistants in my district?" I had. So, I recycled that presentation. I loved the way my opener worked there and again at TMC:

Show 3/8 as many ways as you can.

This could be the basis for the whole progression of fractions K-12...  But, I did include some other problems.  I should have snapped pictures of their work (on the Vertical Non-Permanent Surfaces - white boards on the walls).

At the end, I asked for reflections on Twitter using #TMC15 and #fractions. I only got one, but don't they say that one person that responds is representative of the 20 that didn't bother?  I appreciated the participation of everyone that came (especially the one that should have ran the session...).

My PowerPoint and the article we read are on the TMC Wiki.

Comings and Goings

At #TMC15 (that's Twitter Math Camp, 2015 in California), I got to work with another math coach, a high school math teacher, and a master debater (and teacher) to create a place for discussing shared understandings of K-12 math.

The idea started in Twitter conversations and grew. I had done sessions like it at Oregon Math Leaders, so I had a vision of what it could be, but our collective thoughts made it better.  Brian brought a Big Ideas article for us. It helped us see that our task was way to broad, so we focused on the big idea of equivalence (#equiv) and the specifics of the distributive property and proportional reasoning.

Watching high school teachers ooh and ahh over an elementary example was a highlight. In the end, we agreed that the conversations and process were more important than any products, although, we did talk about using similar tasks in multiple grade levels (like Andrew Stadel's cup stacking example:

My group talked about using the Ant Man trailer in multiple grades as a hook for proportional reasoning and similarity tasks. We talked a lot about what could be done in early grades without getting too far into geometric similarity, but just using ratios.  We quickly agreed that using manipulatives for students to explore these concepts was very important.  If you want to see more, our thoughts are in the Google Folder on the TMC Wiki page for our morning session.

Resources on the TMC Wiki Link

Peer Pressure

I've decided to create a blog because I need 1 more thing to do (not really!).  But attending Twitter Math Camp with the #MTBoS convinced me that I should at least have a place to share things that are longer than 140 characters.

Why Bridging Math?
I live in the Portland, Oregon area and we have a lot of bridges. Bridges have great math connections. And in Scouts, bridging ceremonies were a part of moving to the next level. I believe we all have bridges to take in learning to be better.

So, this will be a place to post resources from my workshops or reflections on my work as a K-5 math coach. Thanks for reading (but don't expect frequent posts...).