Friday, April 25, 2014

Five For Friday


Friday is here….finally.  Only 4 Fridays left!  I can’t hardly believe it.  I’m not the type of teacher who counts down…in fact, every year the end of the year kind of sneaks up on me.  I love my class, I fall in love with them every year, and the last day is full of big fat tears for me.  Anyways, on this fourth to the last Friday I am linking up for five for Friday with the amazing Doodle Bugs Teaching.

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This one is not school related so you will have to indulge me for the moment.  This weekend we celebrate this man’s 41st birthday.

Mark in SA 

He is my best friend and the one I would choose over and over again.  He makes me laugh and takes unbelievable care of his family!  We love him so very much!

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Technically, this picture is from last week.  We finished our state testing.  However, this week we get to celebrate being done with ALL of our testing.  Someone in our district office decided it would be a great idea to have our kiddos take their reading and math benchmarks right after we got finished with our state testing.  Well, at least we are now officially done for the year!  Hooray!

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We officially started “Book Clubs,” this week and so far they are a huge hit!  I did a book talk on each of the books and then had them rank their choices from 1-10.  The clubs going on right now are
The Chocolate Touch
The Homework Machine
The Indian in the Cupboard
Third Grade Angels
Ella Enchanted

I found some awesome FREE resources on TpT to help me organize and run the book clubs.


Click on the pictures to go check out the products!

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I tried another new idea this week that I saw over on Farley’s blog.  The idea is called Head of the Class.  Click here to go read her blog post about this amazing idea!  We did our index cards with names at the end of the week so that I would have time to partner them all up.  This week we worked with our partners during Daily 5 time and on our fun grammar projects.  For the last few weeks of school we are reviewing some of the important 3rd grade language standards.  My students are teaching the class through some creative projects and lessons they created.  It has been a huge hit and Head of the Class was a great way to set them up with partners!

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Lastly, I am absolutely swooning over this new bracelet!  It seriously is so cute and I love that I can change the tassels to match my outfits!

It’s from Paige at Style This Life.  You can click the picture or click HERE to check it out in her Etsy shop!

Well, that’s all for another Friday….only 4 more to go!  I can’t believe it!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Number Talks {I’m a Believer!}

I posted earlier about my good friend coming to my classroom and modeling how to do a number talk with my class.  Since that day, we have used a number talk as our math warm up every day.  I am a believer…in love…sold.  My copy of the book finally came in and I can’t put it down.

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After just two chapters, our number talks this week have already been so much better!  If you are looking for a way to build number sense in your students, to encourage them to think about numbers and number relationships, and to work with students on their communication skills and explaining your thinking, number talks is for you.  I found an introductory video on You Tube that was helpful and watched several others before trying one on my own.  Also, the book comes with a DVD that is full of Number Talks filmed in K-5 classrooms….truly amazing stuff!

Here is a picture of what our board looked like after our number talk last Thursday.

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The things I love about Number Talks:
  1. My students are looking more at number relationships and patterns and relying less on algorithms.
  2. My students are able to explain their thinking more clearly and more precisely.
  3. Having to defend their answers has helped them to see when they have made mistakes in their thinking.  More than one kiddo has started to defend their answer, got about a third of the way through, and said, “Oh, wait a minute….”
  4. Number Talks use just about every single one of the 8 mathematical practices.
  5. I feel like my students are improving at problem solving and persevering. They don’t give up as easily when presented with a challenge.
  6. They are developing several strategies so that when one isn’t working for them, they have something else to try.
  7. They have starting to look at whether answers are reasonable or not by using estimation.
I am sure as we keep going with our number talks I will have many more to add to the list!
In the meantime, I made these little cards to print and put on a ring that I have with me during our Number Talks and problem solving time.  I am having to train myself to take a step back and let my students do most of the talking.  Number Talks are about their thinking, not mine.  These cards have question stems for each of the 8 mathematical practices. You can click on the picture to download them for free! 

8 Mathematical Practices Questioning Stems

If you use Number Talks in your classroom, I would love to hear more about how they work for you!  If you don’t use them or haven’t heard of them I encourage you to check out the YouTube video and the book.  It is kind of pricey but I went in to my principal, told him what my friend had just done with my kids in my classroom and showed him the book.  He ended up buying it for me and telling me that he possibly wants a presentation on it early next year!  I can definitely see the benefits of having the K-2 teachers on board.  I can’t even imagine the number sense they would come to me with!  It makes my heart swell just thinking about it!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wordless Wednesday


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Obsessed with Number Talks (blog post in the works). 
 How would you mentally solve 70 – 34?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Today, I am Humbled

I have always taken great pride in being the type of teacher that really listens to my students.  The kind of teacher that believes and teaches my kiddos that there is more than one way to solve a problem. 

Today, I was humbled. 

I learned a valuable lesson from one of my students. 
Just last week this student did a subtraction problem at the back table with me. The number on the top in the ones place was smaller on the top and so regrouping would be required, right?  Well, not for this student.  He proceeded to “flip,” the numbers in the ones place and subtract.  Well, of course, I immediately stopped him and corrected him, to which he replied, “I can do it, and I get the same answer.”  Of course, I quickly replied that it was impossible.  Well, today he proved me wrong.

I must digress just a bit.  Also last week, my amazing and talented friend Deanne was visiting on her spring break from Kansas.  She is an incredibly gifted instructional coach there.  She brought me lunch at school and then came back to check out my classroom.  She asked if she could try something with my class that she really wanted me to see.  It was something called “Number Talks.”  If you haven’t heard of Number Talks, stop what you are doing and search it on YouTube now.  I’m not kidding.  Life. Changing. 
I was absolutely BLOWN AWAY and we have been using them as our math warm up ever since. 

Back to my humbling experience.  Here is a picture of today’s Number Talk and how my kiddo who “flips,” his numbers tried to talk me through it.

Collin's Number Talk

It worked, so naturally I though that he just got lucky.  The big test would be if his strategy works with other problems.  So, I gave him another.  It worked again.  And another.  And another.  I still couldn’t quite grasp how or why it was working, but it was.  I took a picture of the board and emailed it to two other teachers who are much more gifted with numbers than myself.  After an explanation from them, and trying a few more on my own, I figured it out.  He was using negative numbers without really knowing about negative numbers.  It made total sense in his head and resulted in the correct answer every time.

Later, after talking to him some more he said, “Mrs. Wood, that is why I get frustrated when you make me regroup.  I can do it without regrouping and it makes sense to me.”  Lesson. Learned.  They way I learn and the way I think about numbers isn’t the only way.  It isn’t even always the best way.  I never would have learned that without our daily Number Talks.
I am humbled.

And I am blessed.  I am blessed to have a friend who takes the time to teach me new things and challenge my thinking.  I am blessed that I teach kiddos who can teach me new ways of looking at things.  And I am blessed that they forgive so easily when I have made a mistake as their teacher.  I know that not all students learn the same way.  I know that in my head and I always thought that I truly taught that way.  But today that lesson made it’s way to my heart.  I will never put my students in a box and tell them that the old fashioned way is the only way or even the best way.  They are all different.  I need to make certain that I am treating them that way. 

Lesson learned.