Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Number Sense Routines Book Study: Chapter 2

Little Minds at Work

I am linking up again with Little Minds at Work for a book study on Number Sense Routines by Jessica Shumway.

This is my second attempt to post this entry from my phone. I wrote an entire post that was not saved and had to rewrite the entire thing! Ugh! Please forgive any mistakes for that reason.

I also want to apologize for the delay in writing my reflection on the second chapter. I was out of town last week on a road trip around south Florida and only had a day and a half before leaving for my next trip. I am now on my way to visit one of my closest teaching friends from the Philippines in her home state of Minnesota. I'm taking advantage of my downtime at the airport while on my layover to catch up!

Chapter 2 Improving Number Sense 
Routines That Are Not Routinized  

In this chapter, Jessica Shumway says that most teachers already begin their math blocks with some kind of warm-up, and her goal is to help those teachers refine their warm-up to expand students' number sense. She writes, "These number sense routines are not 'auto pilot' activities, but opportunities for meaningful practice." This statement really hit home with me because my current warm-up is what I call my Calendar time, and about half way through the first semester, I am already terribly bored of the monotony. I did switch it up a little throughout the year, but with subtle changes such as singing a different song for the days of the week and using a different counting strategy (count the numbers on the calendar by 1s, 5s, 10s) and so on. For the most part, the day-to-day routine was very much the same. It was my thought that having a predictable routine was what was best for my students which is sort of right. Predictability helps students feel more comfortable and willing to share, but there should be different routines instead of the same activities every day because students need multiple opportunities to develop number sense. The routines need to be fluid and flexible as well so that they are responsive to the students. To be a "responsive" routine, they should be responsive to students' discussions, understandings, and learning needs.

All routines should do the following:

• Provide daily number sense activities. 
• Include discussion about numbers and their relationships.
• Respond to students' current understandings.
• Build on students' existing number sense.
• Encourage students to play with numbers and enrich their mathematical thinking.
• Help students make connections to big ideas in mathematics.

Also, number sense routines should get all of the students actively involved as they review old concepts and practice new ideas. With my current set up, I have a Calendar Helper that runs the daily warm-up/calendar. This person is obviously involved, and I can count on a handful of other students to always participate, but then the rest of the class checks out during portions of the calendar routine. Who can blame them? If they aren't being challenged then they will not pay attention and instead will act out. And this isn't helping anyone! I can only assume they were bored but maybe the reality is that they were not participating because they did not know the answers to the questions being asked. A warm-up consisting of number sense routines is the perfect time to assess students. I definitely knew that the students that regularly participated had a strong grasp of the concepts being reviewed, but what about those that did not respond? I had no way of telling if the students had a clear understanding if they were not always involved. 

It is important to note that number sense routines do not always need to be related to the current math content being taught. What is important is that students build number sense and use their number sense. 

Part II of the book discusses the routines that Shumway has found to be the most effective in helping students build number sense. I look forward to gaining new tools to spice up my warm-up time! 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Ten Pin Linky

As if I needed an excuse to spend more time on Pinterest, I am linking up with Ashley at Just Reed for her Ten Pin Linky party to share my 10 Favorite Pinterest Pins! This week's theme is classroom decor. Picking only ten was so much harder than I thought!

I absolutely love all of the colors in this classroom! I used the center signs from this packet last year, but plan on using some of her other ideas to add more pops of color.

I need to make some of these pom poms. Not want to make, need to make!

I adore this classroom library. I have the book boxes in my shopping cart over at Really Good Stuff already, but I have been going back and forth between the neon colors like hers or the primary colors. Such a tough decision!

World's cutest file cabinet.

Crate seats have been all over Pinterest and on my never ending to do list, but I can't find the crates in the Philippines and haven't been able to convince myself to spend the money to ship them over from the U.S. Maybe when I move to another country!

Lamps make a classroom feel so much more like home, not to mention the cozy color scheme and other decor.

This would be great for a writing station.

What an easy way to switch out displays of children's work.

Love this idea. I think I need to add a data board to my classroom next year.

I actually already have this lantern caterpillar hanging in my classroom, but it is too cute not to share!

Head over to Just Reed and link up with your favorite Pinterest finds! You can follow me on Pinterest here: Here's the Hoot. Happy pinning!

Number Sense Routines Book Study: Chapter 1

Little Minds at Work

I am linking up with Little Minds at Work for a book study on Number Sense Routines by Jessica Shumway.

The first chapter answers the question, "What is number sense?" In the past when I have thought about number sense, I have considered it the first step in children learning how to add and to subtract. After reading this chapter I realized that number sense is so much more complex than that. As Shumway wrote, "There are many layers to it, and it is rooted within all strands of mathematics." Students with a strong number sense demonstrate all of the following understandings and skills:

  • A sense of what numbers mean.
  • An ability to look at the world in terms of quantity and number.
  • An ability to make comparisons among quantities.
  • Flexibility, automaticity, and fluidity with numbers.
  • An ability to perform mental math.
  • Flexibility with problems.
  • Automatic use of math information.
  • An ability to determine reasonableness of an answer.
  • An ability to decide on a strategy based on the numbers in a problem.
One of the things that stood out to me in this chapter was Figure 1.3 Components of Number Sense. This web shows that number senses involves big ideas, strategies, skills, models, tools, and language. Once again, this helped show me that number sense is not only children knowing how to compute fluently, but also being able to use the appropriate language and tools to do so. Too many time I have asked my students, "How did you find your answer?" only to be told, "I just thought about it in my head." If my students had a strong sense of numbers, they would have been able to explain their reasoning and thought process.

I also loved, loved, loved Box 1.1 Early Number Sense Learning Trajectory. As a Kindergarten teacher, this is so helpful for me to understand so that I can better support my students' mathematical development. This box includes information on subitizing, magnitude, counting, one-to-one correspondence, cardinality, hierarchical inclusion, part/whole relationships, compensation, and unitizing. To be honest, when I first saw this box I started to think I was in trouble because I was not familiar with half of the terms! Once I read the explanations I felt a lot better because I realized I DO know this stuff, and I have seen this progression in my students throughout the year. I just did not know the proper terminology. I loved that these clear descriptions were included because I believe it is important that I know as much as possible about number sense development to be able to plan developmentally appropriate lessons for my students. 

Tara from Little Minds at Work asked some questions to go along with Chapter 1.

1. What is your current comfort level with teaching number sense?

As a newer teacher, I think my current comfort level with teaching number sense is on the lower side. I have taught two different grade levels and both years I was unsure of where my students would be at the beginning of the year and where they should end up at the end of the year. As the year progressed, I would get to know my students' mathematical skills, but I did not always know what to do to help those that were struggling in their development of number sense.

2. What have you already started in your classroom to build number sense?
At the beginning of the year, I did a lot of subitizing activities with dot cards. I usually used the dot cards while lining up or transitioning to another activity. I also did a daily calendar where we practiced counting (at first rote counting and then later counting with one-to-one correspondence) and place value (when we counted our days in school). The same way I used the dot cards at the beginning of the year, I started to use flash cards towards the end of the year to improve students' mental math with addition and subtracting. 

3. What have you considered adding to your classroom that will give your students that much needed "multiple exposures" component? 
I plan on expanding my subitizing activities to use other tools instead of only using dot cards. Some ideas I have are ten frames and pictures of objects or fingers (I had some students towards the end of the year that were still counting each individual finger on their hands instead of automatically knowing that one hand had five fingers). I would like to do these activities daily and continue throughout the year, not only at the beginning. In my math stations, I would like to include a variety of number sense activities that the students can continuously work on every day. I also plan on extending my calendar time to include more number sense activities including a number of the day and estimation jar. Hopefully with all of these and other additions, I will no longer be told, "I just thought about it in my head" when I asked for a student's explanation of an answer!

I will leave you with my favorite quote from the chapter: Only if children come to believe that there are always multiple ways to solve problems, and that they, personally, are capable of discovering some of these ways, will they be likely to exercise - and thereby develop - number sense.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Bunting, Books, and Bainbridge Giveaway

Have you seen the MAJOR Giveaway Christina Bainbridge is doing to celebrate her 2 year Blog-a-Versary? Head over and check it out. It is amazing! Her blog is the first teaching blog I ever stumbled upon before starting my first year of teaching when I was busy reading anything and everything I could find about teaching. Who knew that two years later I would have a blog of my own. I hope that down the road, I will have tenth the amount of followers as she does!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Flea Market Finds

I went to the flea market today on the search for more books to add to my classroom library, and I struck gold! I found a bookstore that had shelves and shelves full of books that were mostly $1! They were also in very good condition. I bought as much as I could carry and plan on making another trip back to get some more leveled readers. Here's a peak at what I found:

I also bought this bucket of cookie cutters from Lakeshore that had the original $16.95 sticker on it, but were being sold for only $3.

Last, I got the game Chutes and Ladders still in original packaging for $5! Perfect for math stations to help counting skills. 

I tried to find some garage sales and had no luck. Maybe next weekend. If not, back to the flea market for this girl! I am going to need an extra suitcase to bring back all of the stuff I am buying for my classroom.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Last Week of School

After a dreaded stomach bug chose to strike the last week of school (right after I mentioned how ya never know when you'll get one!), end of the year shenanigans, having to leave a day earlier than planned to fly back home, begging a security guard to let me on the last possible bus that would get me to the airport in time, almost missing my flight to Tokyo, not getting on my flight to Detroit, being rerouted to San Francisco and adding an extra layover in Atlanta, I finally made it home! Did you get all that? In short, it was a hectic week. I had to quickly finish cleaning my classroom and packing my suitcases right after school ended last Friday, so I did not have a chance to blog about our last week of school. It was nothing short of crazy! I tried to keep things as normal as possible as far as routines, which didn't work out so well when I was unable to make it to school on Tuesday! When I was there, we finished up our Sunshine and Shadows Unit in Science by writing some facts we learned about the sun. I used April Larremore's The Sun and Stars Packet for some ideas to help with this unit.

We also painted Here I Come! poems, thanks to Little Miss Kindergarten. Unfortunately our choice of paint is limited, so the paint we used covered the writing a bit more than I would have liked, but I still think they came out okay. And let's be real, Kinders love to paint anything!

On Wednesday we had a Teacher In-Service day where the teachers could use the time to tie up any lose ends before the end of the school year, clean our rooms, hand over portfolios to the next grade level and tell the teachers about their incoming class. I already know my future class very well because the Pre Kindergarten and Kindergarten class collaborate often throughout the school year. We also had a Transition Day on the Friday before the end of the year where the students moved up to their next grade level for about 20-30 minutes to see their new classroom and learn about what to expect the following year. I used my time with the Pre K class to have their very first Morning Meeting! We did a quick greeting, sang the song Bear Hunt, shared our favorite animal (this was not my plan for sharing time, but they kept pointing out the different animals they saw on my alphabet and on my carpet, so I thought it was more fitting for their interests), and read a morning message. I used the extra time after our meeting to read the story Look Out Kindergarten, Here I come! It is such a cute story and it got the kids even more excited about moving up to Kinder!

Thursday and Friday of the last week were half days for different assemblies. Thursday is a Sports Assembly that highlights the winners of the big sporting events throughout the year (such as cross country and field day) and to honor the different sports teams. The biggest announcement of the assembly is the winner of the House Cup. The entire school is divided into three Houses and all year the Houses compete against each other in different events to win points  (think Harry Potter). At the end of the year, the House with the most points wins a big trophy. And bragging rights of course. I will talk more about Houses in another post.

Friday is our big Moving Up Day celebration and class parties. Moving Up Day is the time for all of the students in Grades Pre K- Grade 5 to receive certificates of completion and subject awards. Also, one student from each class is awarded a medal and certificate for being the most improved student in their class. We also sing the Moving Up Day song. Each class has their own verse in which we change the words a bit to fit our class from the year. The words tell a little bit about us and what we did during the year, and then say that we are "going out" of our class and are "safe now" in the next grade level. We sing a song as a whole Lower School as well. Both last year and this year we sang songs by Bruno Mars... He is widely popular in the Philippines. :)

After the awards assembly, we had our class parties. I started our parties with some of of Reagan Tunstall's Minute to Win it games. Most of the kids loved the games, but I had a few kiddos who were suddenly self conscious and did not want to participate because they thought the games were "too hard." Eventually their friends convinced them that the games were fun and they decided to give them a try.

Once we were finished it was time to eat! Most parties at my school are potlucks and the parents bring in mounds of spaghetti, fried chicken, pizza, and a variety of Korean food. Since our party was at 11 am and honestly, I wanted to do something a bit different, I requested we had brunch instead. I planned the party with my Homeroom Mom to make sure she agreed this would be accepted by both the Filipino and Korean families. She reassured me that they would be okay with it and eat anything so I went forth with the brunch idea. Normally the parents sign up to bring whatever they want, but this time I made the list of brunch items I wanted them to bring in and asked the parents to sign up for one of those foods. We had some difficulties with the sign up process, but in the end, most parents ended up bringing in something from the list. I still had one bring in cupcakes and one bring in hotdogs with marshmallows (it's a very popular Filipino snack) and wouldn't you know, every single kid went straight for the cupcakes and hotdogs and totally skipped the brunch foods! I was also hoping that this style party would lend itself to healthier food options, but all of the brunch food that were provided were from McDonald's, and although I had two spots to sign up to bring fruit, we ended up with only one tray of fruit and then a big box of doughnuts (that were not on the list). I tried. I really did! Oh well... Here's to next year!

Monday, May 27, 2013


Please tell me I am not the only one with a class that has turned into a bunch of little monsters this last week of school? They started off they day as chatty monsters then transformed into giggle monsters then the next thing I know, they were full blown throwing-pencils-across-the-table-and-running-in-circles monsters. I had three students absent today leaving me with only 7... Yes, you read that correctly. I only have 10 students in my class... I am sure you have now lost all sympathy for me after reading that, but let me plead my case: the majority of the class is boys (7/10) and they all have big enough personalities to make it feel like a class three times the size on a normal day. On a day like today when we have all checked out and are ready for our summer holiday, it feels like a class 5 times the size! If you don't believe me, feel free to pay us a visit. :)

Because we were already acting like monsters, I thought a great way to get some of our energy out while still incorporating math was by reading the book Monster Musical Chairs. On each page, one monster is out of the game. After reading and discussing the book, we played our own game of musical chairs. As each child sat out, they helped me write the equation on the board. Once we played the game a couple of times, students went to math stations. When students came to work with me, they used these cute monsters pictures from First Grade Best to make up their own subtraction problems.

I couldn't believe they were capable of sitting still long enough for me to take this picture!
Another task I took on today was Step 2 of my library organization project. I gave my students the choice of either going to literacy stations or helping me sort through our library books. Only two chose to go to literacy stations and the rest were eager to help. I gave them each a box of books and told them to pick one book each. Those books were the start of our piles. Two students happened to both pick Dr. Seuss books which gave me the opportunity to show them how and why to put those two books together. Then the rest of us looked through our boxes to see if we had any other Dr. Seuss books to add. After we found all of the Dr. Seuss books, we moved on to alphabet books because another student had picked Chicka Chicka Boom Boom as their first book. It continued like this for awhile until we had most of the books sorted. There were a few that we couldn't decide where to put them. What do you do with the books that don't fit with any of the others? I may just put them in an unlabeled box for now until I build up more of a collection.

My floor after we were finished.
I realized I have A LOT more piles of books than I do book boxes, so I will be on the look out for some more. If only we had a Target here...