I've been taking the AVMR 2 course which is focused on the place value and multiplication and division assessments for the AVMR program. During our first day, our instructor, Jenni Scholla, showed us the video below of Ma and Pa Kettle trying to sort out a bill they owe using the algorithms for division and then multiplication. What ensues is a comedy act that isn't too far of a stretch from what many of our students do when given the standard algorithms without the proper understanding behind them. In searching for the Ma and Pa video, I also stumbled upon the Abbot and Costello video that demonstrates the same mathematical misunderstandings. These might be fun to watch yourself or share with your students. I bet there would be some good conversation about the errors in their thinking! Enjoy!
On a different note...
Top 10 Choice Mentor Texts - If you're looking for new books to add to your classroom library, check out this list from the Two Writing Teachers.
10 Math and Science Choice Mentors - Here is a list from the Two Writing Teachers focused on math and science mentor texts.
Energy and Calm: Brain Breaks and Focused Attention Practice - Check out this post from Edutopia with some ideas for brain breaks and focused attention practice. Great for those long indoor-recess days!
This week I was working with a teacher who wanted to get students to deepen their level of questioning when reading. The students were skillfully asking questions that helped them predict what might happen in the text, but this teacher wanted to get them going deeper - wanted to get them asking questions that would lead them to make inferences about the characters' motivations, the author's purpose, the greater themes in the book, etc. During our conversation I shared a protocol that I had come across on the blog A More Beautiful Question. The protocol is called "The 5 Whys".
The idea behind the process is that you can get to a deeper understanding of your initial question by asking "Why" five times. While this article shares examples from the business world, I don't feel there is any reason we can't apply the same reasoning to questioning in our classrooms. You could start with a question such as "Why did the character do that?" and go from there. The 5 Whys could also serve as an anticipatory set when launching a new unit of study. The more opportunities we build in for our students to engage in deep questioning, the better we will be preparing them for problem solving in the future.
Quoted below is the post "Ask Why 5 Times":
"I’ve known about “The 5 Whys” for a while (I mentioned the 5 Whys in my last book,Glimmer), but I was reminded of them recently by AMBQ collaborative team member Bill Welter. He wrote:
'Toyota shifted the Japanese car market in the 1980s with an emphasis on quality. Factory workers were encouraged to ask ‘Why?’ at least 5 times. The ‘5 Whys’ technique is still the foundation of quality programs around the world. (Too bad about the recent quality issues at Toyota—maybe they forgot to ask the questions that made them famous.)”
This process of asking 5 whys is not just applicable to making cars—it can be used in almost any type of creative endeavor. It can even be used to make sense of your own life. The design firm IDEO, which is a big practitioner of the 5 Whys methodology, offers this as an example of how asking 5 whys can help you dig down to a deeper truth.
One might ask, Why stop at five? Why not just keep asking why endlessly? The answer is that you will drive the people around you insane.
As you go forward with your instruction, consider using the 5 Whys technique of questioning to help your students dig deeper. Let me know how it goes!
On a different note...
Digital Text Bins - Ever wonder what to do with all of the digital text you accumulate throughout a unit? Want a way to organize your digital content so you can locate it in the future and make it easy for students to locate? Check out this post for some organizational ideas.
Here are a couple of management articles that might be of use to you at this point in the year.
Are You Making Your Most Difficult Student Worse? - This blog discusses how treating certain students differently, such as walking on eggshells around them, may have adverse effects.
How To Stop Misbehavior Before It Starts -
Above are the 8 Standards of Mathematical Practice laid out in the common core as practices that mathematically proficient students engage in. These practices are highly important in our instruction as they are at the root of the mathematical thinking our students should be learning to do. It is paramount that we as teachers know these practices in order to model them and encourage them in our kids.
It is likely that we are all at varying levels of comfort and expertise with the above practices. Some of us may have them all internalized and understand what they look like, some of us may have mastered a few, some of us may just be hearing about these for the first time. Wherever you are in your journey, there is room to grow.
Last week a document called "Implementing Standards for Mathematical Practice" was shared with me. This document is a rubric that helps you reflect on your work with the 8 Standards of Mathematical Practices in your classroom. There are two areas that you can self-assess: task and teacher. The task descriptors are primarily geared towards planning math lessons, while the teacher descriptors are geared towards what happens during and after a lesson. I encourage you to check out this document and see where you land. Maybe you'll find yourself excelling in certain standards and lacking in others. Maybe you'll realize you needed a clearer definition of the practices. Maybe you'll stumble on an area that will support your math instruction going forward. If anyone is interested in looking deeper into the criteria outlined in this rubric, please let me know. I'd love to support you in developing your understanding of and use of the mathematical practices in the classroom. These are at the root of what we are teaching and can help transform our math talk if kept in mind.
On a different note...
27 Helpful Martin Luther King Jr. Activities - Check out this page for a wide range of ways to address Martin Luther King, Jr. in your classroom this year.
As we dive head-on into our second semester I want to extend myself to each of you and remind you of what my role as an instructional coach entails. My day-to-day job varies greatly. I balance my schedule between meeting the needs of new teachers, consulting with principals for guidance on general whole-school professional needs, planning and leading professional development, meeting with curriculum coordinators and other coaches to guide the district towards consistency. attend grade-level collaborations, observing teachers and giving feedback, and much more. The best part of this job is helping teachers help their students! I love supporting teachers with planning lessons or units, analyzing assessments, observing and giving feedback, teaching demonstration lessons, and idea-sharing in order to grow professionally. Please know that I am here and available to work with each of you in any capacity. My schedule is posted, but is often very flexible. Do not hesitate to be in touch if you need support or simply want someone to bounce an idea off. I will do everything I can to make my schedule work for you.
Specific Ideas for Support
If you're like me, you want specifics on what exactly the instructional coach can help with. When something is too broad, it's easy for me to feel overwhelmed and like it maybe doesn't apply to me. So, here is a list of specific things (in no particular order) of ways I am here to support you.
Things to remember about instructional coaches...
I am an elementary instructional coach for the Sioux Falls School District.