Saturday, August 2, 2014

Blog Surf-Let's Talk Math!

Hi! Thank you for visiting my blog and "surfing" this blog hop with us! This is my first blog hop. Yes, my first! I've been so lucky to connect with such a sweet group of bloggers and join in on the fun!

I'm further away from the beach than most of the lovely ladies on this hop; however, I absolutely love the beach! The closest beach to me is about two and a half hours away-I live right in the heart of The Central Valley. To get you started and in the spirit of "surfing," we are all sharing our favorite beach. My absolute favorite beach is called Bellows Beach. Unfortunately, for me, it is not located in California. It's located in Hawaii on the island of Oahu. I was lucky enough to be able to visit Bellows a couple weeks ago on my trip to Hawaii! 
Gorgeous, right?!

Ok, moving on to the fun stuff...number talks! Some of you might be familiar with number talks and some of you might be a newbie, like me! If you are not as familiar with number talks check out this awesome video! If you're experienced with number talks, it's still a great video.

This summer, I was able to attend a week long Common Core math training. It really changed the way I think about teaching math in my class, and more specifically, how I run my daily math meeting. The trainers talked to us a lot about the 8 mathematical practices (which I wasn't so familiar with before the training) and how we can incorporate these practices into our lessons. 

A topic that caught my attention during the training was this idea of "math talks." I'd heard of them and I even started using a very basic form of them in my classroom last year. But, I wasn't really sure how they fit into my math lesson for the day. I questioned what exactly their purpose should be?

During the training, I learned that a math talk is not meant to be the math lesson for the day, and does not necessarily focus on a specific standard. Math talks focus on strategies. It is 5-10 minutes where the students will explore numbers by finding patterns, discover relationships between numbers, build number sense, and most importantly, explain their thinking. Through this process, students will use algorithms less and less. They will begin to rely more and more on their critical thinking skills.

Having students defend and explain their thinking is key in this process. It allows the teacher and classmates to understand other ways of thinking. It also provides a time for the students to self correct, if necessary.

Previously, during my math meeting, we spent a lot of time on calendar facts. We would count up how many days we had been in school, practice place value, use counters, memorize the days of the week and the months in the year; while these are all still important, my math meeting was lacking-and I didn't even know it! It was lacking those higher level thinking skills. This idea of math talks has completely changed the way we will spend our math meeting time. 

I've spent some time this summer planning what this could look like in my room this year. I will definitely start my number talks by using a tens frame to build numbers. Now, remember, this doesn't have to be anything fancy. This is not your math lesson. Keep it simple. Last year, I made a couple of power points with a math talk on each slide. I didn't feel like the class was engaged. I was up at my desk controlling the PowerPoint while the kiddos were all sitting nice and quietly at the math meeting carpet. Ha! We all know what happens when the teacher leaves and walks over to their desk:). This year I plan to keep it simple! A cookie sheet, tens frames, and some magnets! It will look something like this:

I really like the idea of using magnets on a cookie sheet because it's easy to use, manipulate, and interact with. If you click the link below you can get a copy of my classroom conversation guide and both tens frames. The classroom guide can be hung up on your math meeting wall and used as tool to help guide your students through these conversations. 

What activities and skills do you teach during math meeting? I would love to hear your ideas:).
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