Sunday, April 10, 2016

Beyond the Standards: Mathematical Awareness Month

Originally posted on on 4/10/2016

Math Awareness Month
Beyond the Standards

by Beverly Ladd, 2nd Grade Teacher, NC and Heidi Samuelson, 4th Grade Teacher, TN

            Did you know April is Mathematics Awareness Month? The goal of Mathematics Awareness Month is to increase appreciation and understanding of math. As we reflect on math during this time, we are struck by one particular aspect of the subject: Getting the right answer is not always what math is about. More than the right answer is the journey students embark on as they strive to learn a new skill or solve a task. The importance of math goes beyond the day-to-day standards that we teach. Often, the most important part of math is what is not written on a lesson plan at all. Often, the important part of math is in the connections, communications, and commitment to work toward a goal.
           As teachers, we strive for students not only to get the right answers, but also to develop a growth mindset when they make a mistake. Helping a child internalize that making mistakes is part of learning gives them the opportunity to understand that the mistakes they make are proof of learning. Creating this growth mindset in our students is vital to helping them become better learners, as well as developing a sense of determination.
Empathy and Respect
          Students who work together in a collaborative learning environment gain social and emotional skills that are priceless and will allow them to be used in careers that haven’t been created or thought of yet. These are skills they will use not only in their everyday lives, but also as they work in other skill subject areas.
Often, a student working with a student that has the wrong answer will instill empathy because they have the opportunity to guide and teach the struggling student on how to get the right answer.
Students can also learn with others beyond the walls of the classroom. This builds empathy as they learn to appreciate cultural differences while developing math skills and seeing life from a different viewpoint. Breaking down classroom walls to initiate student collaboration and learning can happen in a variety of methods: Skype, students tweeting from a Twitter classroom account to participate in the Global Math Task Twitter Challenge (@globalmathtask) or in a collaborative online document. The method and frequency can vary, depending on the comfort level of the teacher and the technology resources available, but learning outside the classroom walls is beneficial for all involved!
Critical Thinking
           Learning with other students in a collaborative learning environment allows students to carry their math conversations and observations outside the structured “math lesson,” granting math talk to be blended throughout the day. More connections and deeper relationships are discovered, which helps students respond to the mathematical thinking of others, not just in their classroom, but also globally. Critical thinking is continually developed as students look deeper at the different ways in which students from across the globe are solving and sharing math tasks.
          In order for students to develop reasoning skills, students need multiple opportunities to practice communicating in math. Challenging students to use both written and verbal methods of communication gives them more opportunities to justify answers. Many times, students gain another viewpoint or method on how to solve a task while listening to other students justify answers to show their thinking. Students must learn to use appropriate vocabulary terms when explaining their thinking. Solutions must be presented in a clear “voice” when sharing with a global audience. This helps everyone develop better communication skills and become more confident mathematicians, not only today, but also years from now when they are no longer in a classroom.
          Developing lifelong learners is a goal that every teacher dreams about. We want the students in our classroom to build their own curiosity and interests through discussions, lessons, and activities they have experienced while with us. Using math to spark the imagination and help mold the developing skills of our students, teachers strive to help our students leave our classrooms with more than just what was written in our daily lesson plan book. Let’s endeavor to spark curiosity and desire in our students towards collaborating, communicating, and respecting others even though they may look and talk differently. Allowing collaborative learning environments can potently change the way our students learn to develop necessary skills, like respect and empathy for others. Let’s inspire our students to treasure the differences that make us unique, as well as to help them see how math can be a common factor for all of us during Math Awareness Month, and always!

Click Here to read the whole article on TenMarks.

Join the fun and connect your students learning!

Enjoy your day!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Speed PD at innovatED16

Thanks to the organizers of the 
innovatED16 for allowing me to share some ideas
about engaging & effective apps.

I got some #awesome resources from the 
other presenters' sessions as well!

Do you have any engaging & effective apps you
use with your students to share?

If you'd like a copy of the 
interactive presentation 
in googleslide

Have an AWESOME day!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

#TeacherFriends Twitter Chat GuestEduCelebrity

Join Beverly and I for some 
PD in PJs 
April 5th @8pm CST/9pm EST
We'll be sharing 
Math Solutions & Strategies 
Activities, Resources, and Ideas
on the
#TeacherFriends weekly Twitter Chat
Whether you're a 
twitterchat newbie
or a
twitterchat regular
this chat is full of teachers 
with ideas and shares
that will guide you along the 
chatting experience!

The wonderful Debbie Clements
moderates the chat with the help of
some wonderful teachers 
to help answer questions
and give support!

Here's a sneak peak at our questions
for this week's topic of 
Math Solutions & Strategies

Beverly and I co-host the 
Global Math Task Twitter Challenge 

We'd love to have you join in too!

We're happy to answer questions 
and help you connect 
the learning!

Hope to connect with you soon!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Joy Cowley Classroom Giveaway

There's a Joy Cowley
 (author of Mrs. Wishy-Washy) 
Classroom Giveaway going on right now!
Hop over to the link HERE to sign up for a chance to win.

When I taught First Grade, Mrs. Wishy-Washy was a beloved book among my students.
But I wasn't aware of the Joy Cowley Collection of books...

The Hameray Publishing Group 
sent me two sets of the character books to 
read through and share. 

Oscar is the first set of books I choose to check out
...and what a cutie he is...
The youngest of the family, Oscar allows students to connect with 
the perils of having older siblings in a real world fashion.
In "Go to Bed, Oscar!", students can relate to how "unfair" it is that they have to go to bed before the older siblings in the family! This wonderfully illustrated series also helps share how being the youngest in the family isn't always such a bad thing and how small people can help in big ways too! In "Oscar Did It", students will relate to a funny ending when he is blamed for doing everything that mom is upset about :)

Sloppy Tiger is the second set of books I read...
With another delightful character who students can relate to their own lives! 
Sloppy Tiger has fun while cleaning the floor, takes a hilarious adventure on a bus, and has a messy room to clean up for a picnic treat.

Each book in the series is set up for guided reading with 
Features of the Text listed.
Before, During, and After reading questions and things to notice listed.
and how to connect the text to real life suggestions.
Perfect for a small group for reading or
for sending home to read with parents...
what better way to help parents connect the reading with their little ones!

I'll be donating the books that were sent to me for review to our Kindergarten classes at school.
I hope to have some of my fourth graders hop down to read a favorite story with a student one day 
(after all this crazy testing is over and life returns to normal)

Hop over and join in the contest for a chance to win the books for your class!
Check out all the prizes in this giveaway
Then share with your friends! 

Thanks again to Hameray Publishing group 
for the opportunity to review these adorable 
lesser known characters of a fabulous author
Joy Cowley!
I look forward to seeing how our Kindergarten compadres enjoy 
Oscar and Sloppy Tiger too!


Saturday, February 27, 2016

On the Same Day in March Collaboration

We're excited about joining in to share 
our weather with other classes from around the world
in this amazing project
surrounding weather and 
the book by Marilyn Singer

You can register to participate in
the sharing until Friday, March 4th.
by visisting
You can view a map of all the classes
that have already signed up to share

or check out the Twitter feed with the 
hashtag #SDIM16
Looking forward to connecting to 
see what the weather is like
in different areas across the world!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Super Reader Giveaway

Looking forward to reading more about how to help 
all my students become " A Super Reader" in this book
published by 
Their new book, Every Child a Super Reader: 7 Strengths to Open a World of Possible, published by Scholastic, offers a unique approach to reading instruction focused on building student’s strengths rather than focusing on their weaknesses identified through assessment. Every Child a Super Reader helps educators, parents and caregivers learn how to develop children’s 7 Strengths that transform them into “Super Readers”—avid, passionate and critical readers. Includes reading and writing lessons, robust assessment tools, embedded videos and ready-to-share family resources.

Those are pretty powerful words...
critical readers...

I need some of that help in my room!

Thanks to Scholastic for generously allowing me to 
share one of these books.

Leave a comment below.
or Tweet me @swampfrogfirst
to enter the giveaway!

I'd love to hear about how you build your students' strengths
and put less light on their weaknesses!


Scholastic provided me this book for free so I could review it. 
I'm happy to share a copy with my readers as well! Let me know what you think :)

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Writing in a Digital World

I'm an avid believer ...
 students need to be engaged in meaningful 
and authentic
forms of writing to share their thinking 
as well as their learning!

We write to penpals. 
They LOVE when those large envelopes come in the 
"snail mail" through the office.  
Great writing lessons come from sharing how
to put ideas into a letter format....

But...thinking in today's terms...writing a letter
"on paper"
is not how many of my students are going to communicate
as they get older...

I saw a stupendous idea on Instagram this week!
Mrs. Standford has her KINDERGARTNERS 
emailing her their writing!


What an authentic form of communication!
Typing skills 
Grammar Skills 
(capitalization, punctuation, spelling, sentence formation)
Formal Language vs. Informal tones...

She wrote a blog post on how she created the QR code
as well as what her students are writing...
The Primary Pack