July 28, 2016

Using Number Talks to Build Math Fluency and Flexibility

What are Number Talks?
Number Talks are a short, daily routine to focus on mental math computation. They are (typically) full class discussions, facilitated by the teacher, but guided by the students.

Why should I use Number Talks?
First of all, Number Talks are a quick and easy way to get a glimpse into the thinking of your students. Are they using the strategies you have taught? Which strategies do they prefer? Are they able to flexibly apply strategies? Are they able to describe what they are thinking?

Secondly, depending on what you learn about your students' mental computation skills during these Talks, you can guide their use of and understanding of new strategies.You can also use this time to model how to write down their thinking in a variety of ways.

Finally, you should use Number Talks because it is an amazing way to build a strong Math Community. Student voices are heard and validated. Students learn to listen to each other and "piggyback" off of ideas. Creativity is encouraged as students learn there are multiple ways to arrive at an "answer".

How can I implement Number Talks?
First, choose a time of day where you have 10-15 minutes and pick a discussion protocol. I use Think-Pair-Share for most of my Number Talks. (Article on TPS here.) Then, choose a few problems that will lend themselves to whatever strategy you are working on. Doubles plus 1? Make 10? Regrouping? Partial products?

As your students share their mental work with these problems, do your best to make their thinking "visible". Record their ideas with words, numbers, or pictures of any manipulatives they may have used in their visualizations on an anchor chart. Below are two digital examples of 2nd grade charts created during Number Talks.

That's all you need: Time, protocol, Math problems, something to record with, and lastly, an Open Mind. I think the best way to start Number Talks is just to jump in. As you and your students explore, you will discover more about the protocol you want to use and the types of problems you want to present to students. In addition, with practice, you will develop questioning skills that allow your students to take control and think and discuss more deeply.

My Experience
Number Talks have been an important part of what has transformed my thinking about Math Fact Fluency. I have personally had a lot of success with using Number Talks to teach, practice, and reinforce strategies for single digit addition and subtraction. Of course, Number Talks have not been limited to these categories, but they have made such a huge difference in my students' basic fact fluency, which is an important 2nd grade skill and standard.

Visit my shop to find a super-affordable unit for Addition Fact fluency, which includes multiple Number Talks for each strategy, in addition to flashcards, games, and quizzes:

Addition Facts By Strategy: Flashcards, Games, Number Talks, Quizzes

Further Learning On Number Talks
Short 3rd Grade Example: Short 3rd grade example video
Number Talks Guru book: Number Talks, by Sherry Parrish


July 25, 2016

Monday Made It: Ideas for Community Building

Click here to see the rest of the link up.

Hi everyone! I've been in Back To School mode, like a lot of you. I wanted to share a few things I've worked on as I have been setting up my new classroom. I am switching grade levels this year, so I am having to unpack and figure out a new space. I have also been focusing on how I will build community with my 3rd graders beginning at Day 1. So, the two things I am going to share with you today were created with that goal in mind. Enjoy, and I'll share some links to the original ideas for further inspiration!

Our Name-I have called my class my "Team" for many years. However, at my current school, we are a part of Expeditionary Learning, and mostly refer to ourselves as "Crew". SO I've decided to call us the T-Crew (for Tolentino-Crew) for the year, and had to make a cute little banner to display above the Promethean Board! I grabbed the felt letters at Target, and the fans at Party City. I added a little hot glue, and it was all ready to go! 

Speaking of "naming" your students, I read a great article from the Responsive Classroom blog on this recently. Check it out here: Naming Students In Positive Ways
Birthdays-I am really bad at keeping up with birthdays and making sure students feel special on their big days. I know. That sounds terrible. I've always given out a little pencil with a paper balloon attached to it, but I saw a great card idea shared by Teaching Maddeness in her Student Birthdays Made Easy post.

This card will be posted on the board for students to sign during the day for our Birthday Person. I love the idea that we will all take a minute to appreciate the birthday kid, and at the same time create a little treasure for them to take home!

Have a great week!

July 24, 2016

The FIRST Day: Morning Meeting Ideas

The first day of school is right around the corner for a great many of us teachers. If you're like me, you have been making plans (or at least thinking about making plans) for these first days. The first Morning Meeting of the year sets the tone for the rest of the day. It's worth taking a few minutes to really plan it out, even if you usually don't make detailed plans for the meeting.

I want to share my top 2 things that MUST be accomplished during your first Morning Meeting of the year. Then I'll share a new idea that I'm looking forward to implementing in my first Morning Meeting of the year.

Practice-This is my first MUST. Consider this your first routine to teach-how to come to the carpet for your meeting. Take the opportunity to do the modeling yourself, since it's the first day-show the right way to do it, and have your kids point out what they notice. Then be a little silly to show the wrong way to do it. This can show your kids that while you have high expectations for them, you also have a sense of humor and don't mind being a little silly when you need to be.
Make Introductions-Here is the second MUST. Introduce each student to the class. When you do the introductions, you can avoid putting individuals on the spot. Nerves are high, and even something as simple as sharing names or other personal information can be uncomfortable for a lot of students. Yes, it can feel a little strange, but that's ok. Here are two procedure ideas for this:

Introduction 1:
T: Everyone, this is my friend/our crew member/3rd grader Amelia.
S: Good morning, Amelia!

Introduction 2:
T: Everyone, this is my friend/our crew member/3rd grader Amelia.
<Student gives high fives to their circle neighbors>
Mindfulness Activity-I have recently been doing my own personal research on using mindfulness in my own life. Mindfulness is simply about being present in the moment. Mindfulness activities are also things that anyone can do and be easily successful at. There are no right answers or right way to do things, and they are usually very simple. And for a lot of us, they just make us feel good!

Now, I am no expert, but I found this great post with ideas: 7 Fun Ways to Teach Your Kids Mindfulness. I plan to use a Raisin Activity on the first day. In addition, if you use GoNoodle, you may select an Empower video which will guide your students through mindfulness exercises.

Here's to a great FIRST Day!

P.S. You can check out my other "First Day" posts here:
The FIRST Day: Morning Work
The FIRST Day: Lunchtime

July 11, 2016

Monday Made It: July 11

Click here to visit the rest of the link up. 

Recently, I finished reading The Book Whisperer, by Donalyn Miller. I really enjoyed it! I was inspired to create my own Reading Inventory for my future 3rd graders. When I sat down to create, I was immediately struck by the idea of gamify-ing it a bit by using the arrows, yes/no paths, and emojis. I hope the kids will enjoy it, and I hope you will, too! It's free in my store. Click here!

Guys, I don't know if this really counts as a made-it, but I made my favorite boxed brownies for a little Independence Day shindig! If you haven't tried Ghiradelli's Double Chocolate brownies, you simply must! So delicious.

My husband asked me if we had any left on Thursday. Um, is he crazy? Of course there aren't any extra! It's Thursday-I already ate them all!

I've probably said it before, but this is my favorite link up. I can't wait to see what everyone else has been up to! Time to get lost in blog-world!