Thursday, June 12, 2014

Guided Math Book Study- Chapter 3

I'm really excited about chapter 3, as I've spent a TON of time this past school year researching the importance of and various routines of math warm ups.

I'll start by stating that math warm ups- or my definition and opinion anyways- has greatly changed since I was in the classroom. I knew I needed to do some form of calendar math- I knew that consistency was important. But honestly- by day 30 of doing a calendar routine, I found myself just as bored with it as my students.

So I set out on a search- are there routines that I could put into place that are more important than "What was yesterday, what is today, and what will tomorrow be"?

In my blog post about chapter 1, I referenced two books I just couldn't live without- Number Talks and Number Sense Routines. After reading these books, I knew a daily math routine was a MUST. No matter what. Early dismissal? We're doing number sense routines. Assembly in the gym? We're still doing number sense routines. Something else will have to go, but I won't give up my 15 minute number sense routine.

What can students gain from Number Sense Routines, and why are they so important?
-  A sense of what numbers mean
-  Understand relative magnitude of an amount
-  Make comparisons among quantities
 - Flexible and fluid with numbers
 -  Ability to perform mental math
-  Flexible with problems
-  Determine reasonableness of answers
-  Ability to choose strategy based upon numbers in the problem

What are some examples of number sense routines?
- The absolute very first place I'd send you would be to the Number Talks book. This book has it ALL. It clearly explains what to do ( allow think time, encourage discussion and multiple ways of solving) and what NOT to do ( showing favoritism over one solution path vs. another, correcting students either right or wrong). Choose the skill, follow the pathway, and lead your students to mental math flexibility.
-Count around the circle is another fun routine. In a circle, start with any number. Give students a counting pattern. The numbers could get larger or smaller. Can you estimate the number the last person might say?
-I wish I had.... is another great routine! Show students a digit card- any number at all. Then make the statement "I wish I had ____." Students should then mentally calculate how many you need to add/subtract to reach the new number.

As my students come into the room at 7:45, they put their things away, hand in any notes, and grab their ActivExpression. An ActivExpression is a hand-held device that works with ActivInspire software for Promethean boards.

Announcements start at 8:00, so there's 15 minutes that I need to productively fill. Using the ActivInspire software, I created a self-paced fluency quiz.  Once their things are put away, students will grab their ActivExpression, turn them on and begin working on fluency. This is the only part during the day that I'll specifically address fluency. Once the announcements come on, I stop the quiz. The devices will show  the student a summary  of how many questions they answered correctly, how quickly they answered, and their rank compared to others in the classroom.  After announcements, we come together to complete our daily number talks.

If you have ActivInspire software and ActivExpressions, then take advantage of these self-paced quizzes for free!

Bringing in real world examples of math answers the age-old question of "Why do we have to learn this?"-- it makes learning math so much more exciting and meaningful to students.

Another reason it's so important to make the connection between math and our daily lives deals with long term memory. In the book How the Brain Learns Mathematics, author David A. Sousa offers us this graphic and explanation:

Students take incoming information from their senses and send it to their immediate memory. Think of this like a clipboard- we can hold information, like a series of numbers, for approximately 30 seconds.  If the numbers are of no importance to us, then our brain drops the info to make room for something else.

Next is our working memory- think of it as a table. Items in our working memory needs a little more of our concentration. Working memory is like a table- where we can build, take apart, or rework ideas. We can "hold" ideas in working memory longer than we can in immediate memory. Think of all the pieces that go into planning a party- the gifts, food, decorations, activities-- you can plan for all of these at the same time. If your brain doesn't need the information, you brain will eventually let it go.

So how do we transfer ideas from immediate and working memory into long term storage?  Our working memory connects to our past experiences asks just two questions to determine whether the information is saved or rejected:
-Does this make sense?
-Does it have meaning?

If the answer to both is "yes," then the information will become long term memory.

Long story short- if  you want students to turn information into long term memory, then make the information personally relevant and memorable.

Whew- that was another long discussion of some deep ideas! Thanks for sticking it out until the end! I'll see you next week for chapter 4!
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  1. Great post Tabitha! Number Talks is going to be one of the books I pick up on my next round from Amazon!

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    1. Great Brandi! You won't regret that purchase! :)

  2. This is a very interesting post. I've seen both of the books you mentioned and have thought about ordering them. Looks like now they are a must!
    Thinking of Teaching