Sunday, February 28, 2016

Exploring the #MTBoS

My elementary preservice teachers (PST) are exploring professional development this week. The first assignment was to do a webinar or our local conference, Math in Action. Global Math was Problem Strings with Pam Harris (awesome) and Christopher Danielson is keynoting Math in Action, so fortuitous timing, say no more. The second assignment is to find a blogpost to recommend to teachers, so I thought I would pass these along. The list of leads I gave them is:

Apologies for any exclusions. These are all people who's work has come up so far in class. What elementary blogs would you add?

Their recommendations:
Dana -
Summary: This blog post is about a class of students looking at four different shapes, and trying to find the odd one out.
Review: I thought this blog was great because instead of simply telling the students the names of the different shapes, the teacher let them think and reason for themselves; she allowed them to come up with and defend their answer by themselves.

Dayna - This is a great lesson to combine English and math and get students excited to learn. My response to the lesson is that I love that as a teacher you get to see the students thought process when they are working on this problem.

Kalyn -
This post talked about how comparison problem are everywhere, even outside of school. Although they can be difficult at first, the lightbulb goes off and the problem makes sense! I really enjoyed this post and the person example that it gives of her daughter and the conversation that they had about math, but also about life. A lot of good stuff here!

Ally -
This is a great blog. It's about how is he works with "Alex", going through counting. It was a great read.

Amber - For my blog post, I chose to look at some more of Graham Fletcher's stuff. And although we aren't learning about volume right now, I thought this post was a great representation, which shows real life problem solving. It offers that children are robbed when force fed uninteresting story problems from a text book, and Graham offers an interesting 3 ACT problem as a substitute. My reaction to this concise, yet powerful read is that I would like to try a problem like the one he brings up. I bet students would be very interested in it.

Sarah - Summary: Second graders explore sorting by counting by 2's, 5's, and 10's. A similar activity is conducted with first grade students. One students has difficulty counting when there is a leftover present. Review: This post really made me think deeply and question the use of ten frames. Kristin Gray does an excellent job of questioning the thinking of students and that is something that I, personally, need some work on. 

Chris -
Summary: This blogpost is about an "artsy-mathy" activity he did with students involving creating trees out of factor trees.
Review: I absolutely loved this post because it addressed an issue with "artsy-mathy" activities, which is that they tend to be less artsy than an art lesson and less math than a math lesson. I enjoyed how he addressed the issue by making more out of the project and creating an exhibit where the students could teach to younger students.

Orina - I thought this game was really interesting and fun because students have to use number sense to try to win. A lot of students are familiar with hangman and it's a math way to play a fun game.She comments at the end about how this game is competitive and can be cooperative also. Playing games can bring more fun to the classrooms, but she comments that we must make sure there are some competitive and some that are about cooperation.

Kathleen -
this teacher was trying to get her students to understand grouping and have then work together to see what made the shapes different and what the noticed in general. a lot of then saw that there are many triangles in the rectangles.

Heather - I really enjoyed this blog post because it addressed the question we all ask ourselves, when will I ever use this? I like the way he addresses practical examples and being able to take those practical examples and use those for practice problems not "mind numbing" problems. (John says: "be sure to see Joe's follow up.")

Stephanie -
Summary: Counting circles can serve as more than one purpose of just counting; it helps you practice standards, recognize patterns, etc.
Review: I never knew you could do a counting circle in some many different ways; the more questions you ask your students about it, the more they will think about it, and deeply understand the material better.

I admire their taste in posts! 

The other thing is how much I want to thank these bloggers. By sharing your classroom you are having a profound effect on other teachers - and on the future. It takes time and vulnerability for you to write, and I want to thank you for it.


  1. John...this is a great idea for a PD. I often tell my teachers how much information is out there, but they need to explore. I love that you gave the teachers a few blogs to check out. I started one called

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    1. I'm glad! Your blog is a good addition, too, thanks for the link.