Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Timbits Math

This winter I  attended three Math sessions in Brandon put on by the Manitoba Rural Learning Consortium  (mRLC).  There I have had the chance to work with other Early Years teachers on  best practices for delivering the Math curriculum.  Thinking of the categories on the report cards for Mental Math/Estimation and Problem Solving, I felt I needed to learn more about planning and delivering effective lessons in these areas.
At the sessions, we were put into small groups and made a problem to try with our students.  For the final session on April 28, we came back to discuss what we found our classes could do and what to work on next.
 Here was the problem: 

The principal at our school would like to buy Timbits for two classes.  One class has 17 students and the other has 24.  Timbits come in boxes of 10.  How many boxes will he need to buy?
On Monday this week, I read the problem to the students and let them work on it.  I didn't give any other guidance to see what they could do independently.

  The Brandon session was on Tuesday and then on Wednesday, we worked on the same problem together as a class.  I listed the four answers that students in our room came up with and we worked through how they could have arrived at each answer and which was correct. Below are some samples of the students' work.

Overall, I was pleased with the results of  this problem and how they thought of ways to show their thinking.  It helps me plan for how to support the students who need extra practice and also to extend the learning for the ones who could solve this one successfully.

I brought Timbits back from Brandon too and everyone enjoyed the treat!  Our Timbits came in a box of  50.  If each of our 19 students ate two, how many were left to share with the staff in our building?  

They are also sold in boxes of 20.  What new problems could we create with that?


Have you heard about the new website we have been using called Storybird?  We use it during Daily Five time, our part of the day where we work on Reading and Writing.  We use this website during the "Work on Writing" part of the Daily Five.

Storybird lets you use their pictures to write a story that goes with it.  The red wavy underline under a word will tell you that you have made a spelling mistake and it will give you some choices of how it should be spelled instead.  You still need to read over your work carefully though because it won't tell you if you are missing words or punctuation or it won't be any help with homonym mistakes or names.
Everyone has their own account on Storybird but they can also see stories created by their classmates.  There is a way to see stories from other people as well but we haven't used that part of the site yet.
Once the spelling and other errors are fixed, we will publish our work on the site.  We hope you will try Storybird too!

Storyline Online

Another favourite part of our Daily Five time is when you have the chance to Listen to Reading.  Other times during the year we have used the mp3 players or even the cassette tapes and books that our teacher has from the '90's!  Right now though, when we choose to Listen to Reading, we go to Storyline Online on a desktop computer or a laptop.

We each have our own set of headphones that we can adjust the volume on to make it easy to hear whatever story we choose.

Storyline Online lets you choose to listen to a story read aloud by a famous actor or actress.  They also show you the pictures as you read.  They have 26 books online currently. 

From their website:
Reading to children has been repeatedly shown to improve their reading, writing and communication skills, logical thinking, concentration and general academic aptitude… as well as inspire a love of reading. The Screen Actors Guild Foundation records well-known actors reading children’s books and makes graphically dynamic videos so that children around the world can be read to with just the click of a Storyline Online video book image.
Many teachers play SAG Foundation’s Storyline Online videos for their students. Doctors and nurses play Storyline Online videos for children in hospitals. And parents and children around the world watch Storyline Online videos millions of times every month.

You should try it yourself!

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Egyptian Ghosts!

The Grade Two and Threes continue to practice cursive writing and because we are studying Ancient Egypt, those are the words they used this week.

We have not tried adding a video to the blog yet, so here goes! We hope it works for you to see the Egyptian Ghosts writing on our Smartboard!

Actually, there were no ghosts in our room.  There is a feature on Smart Notebook called Page Recording.  We can use it to record something being written and then play it back.  Using this fun feature helps us remember how cursive letters are connected and also helps practice reading words written in cursive.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

An Agenda Reward

We use agendas in our classroom as a communication tool between home and school.  Students need them here everyday to write down reminders and events coming up in the days and weeks ahead.  We had been having some trouble getting all the agendas here every day so we set a goal for ourselves.

The picture above shows the poster we used to keep track of the days that every student who was here remembered to bring their agenda with them.  We started the goal on March 17 and after 12 days of perfect agenda attendance it was time for the reward!

We used marshmallows, jelly beans, toothpicks and icing to create edible bunnies that were fun to make and unique.  Yes, our teacher got the idea from Pinterest again!

What a fun way to celebrate meeting our goal!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Happy Numbers

We have just started a new Math website called Happy Numbers.  Ms. Simms noticed that teachers on Twitter were talking about the free website that works on number skills and she set up accounts for all of us.

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One of our favourite games is Mini Bomb.  There are different levels of difficulty in this game but students need to answer the Math fact questions before the bomb explodes.  It challenges us to work quickly and use strategies and memories rather than counting to find the answers.

Another game is Buy Yourself a Toy where we are given a "wallet" of coins and we need to count them up to find which toy we have enough money to buy.  We have quickly learned that it is easier to start with the largest coin first when we count.

Our teacher thinks that the best part about this website is the way students can work through the standard Math algorithms and receive instant feedback of whether their answer is right or wrong.  Most computer practice doesn't have any place to carry the one as is shown in the picture above.  Ms. Simms overheard one student making an exciting discovery using Happy Numbers - "You can carry a two sometimes too!"
Here is another review by a teacher of the Happy Numbers website.  Our user names and passwords are glued into the front of our agenda.  We hope you will try it soon!

Measuring Puddles!

 It is that time of year!  Puddles are everywhere. I used this opportunity to introduce the measurement topic in Math class.  Students arrived in the morning with a big piece of paper on their tables where I had drawn a big puddle.  They were given the task to measure their puddle!

 After a few seconds, some kids started heading for the meter sticks and rulers that we have in our classroom.  We have a big ball of string in our room that we are using for an Art project and I said that it may come in handy too.  It was exciting to watch the cooperative measuring and recording that happened next!  It was a chance for me to see what prior knowledge the students will bring to the study of measurement.  As I suspected, there was lots of measuring talk with "inches" and "feet" but with a bit of prompting, they remembered earlier work on "centimetres"and "metres".

How we could use the string was discussed as a group and it was compared to having to build a snow fence around the puddle to keep kids out!  Most of the groups have 4 members and all the hands were needed to hold the string down and then lay it along a metre stick.  The word "perimeter" was introduced and measurements were compared between the tables.

We made a list of some of the ways a real puddle could be measured.    We will return to this activity over the unit to help us think about units and measurement.  We will also work on the concept of area and how it differs from perimeter. Another way to measure is mass but we thought weighing the water in a puddle would be hard!
 I suggested to the students that they might want to try this activity at home as well.  Someone suggested that the depth of a puddle can be measured with rubber boots!  A great connection!