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Archive for the category “Subject Discipline Understandings”

Math Stories

Story hour at Collins Playground, Seattle, ca. 1912

One observation that I have made, throughout my career, is that students regardless of the grade,  Kindergarten to Grade 6, LOVE to be read to.

This year Language Arts is not part of my teaching assignment  thus I have focused my read aloud selections on cross curricular connections that I can make to the Math, Science, Health and  Art curriculums.

I have found great success incorporating picture books into my anticipatory sets for my math lessons.  I often start my lessons with a story that relates to the math concept we are working on.  Typically my students finish a snack as I start the story. By the time I make it to page 4 they have their snack packed away and have  whiteboards and markers ready to tackle the math presented in the book.  Many of the books listed below have questions for the students to answer incorporated into the story while others require the teacher to  stop at appropriate times and  ask  students to solve related math problems.   For each math questions my student show their strategy and answer on their whiteboard, compare their thinking with a partner and then we share the strategies.    The books listed below are great at increasing the complexity of the problems as the stories continue.  For most books, I have been amazed how engaged my students are in both listening and developing strategies that they apply in attempt to solve the  problems.

My students especially loved books like Anno’s Magic Seed because it threw twists into the story that  required multiple operations and calulations.  It was great to see my students share their work on white board and engaging each other in conversations about the story.  By the end of the book my studetns were completing multi-step calulations and loving it!

Most of these books came from lists that I found online. After putting my own filter on the lengthy list, here are my top seven books for our  multiplication unit:

  1. Anno’s Mysterious Multiplying Jar – Mitsumasa Anno
  2. Anno’s Magic Seed– Mitsumasa Anno
  3. One Grain of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale – Demi
  4. Amanda Bean’s Amazing Dream: A Mathematical Story – Cindy
  5. 365 Penguins – Jean Luc Fromental
  6. The Best of Times: Math Strategies That Multiply – by Greg Tang
  7. Minnie’s Diner: A Multiplying Menu – Dayle Ann Dodds

I know that this is by no means a complete list and like with everything else I am still learning and adding to my repertoire.  Each new math unit will bring new stories! I look forward to exploring “shape” books as we embark on our new unit next month.

I would be excited to hear about any math books that you have used to teach upper elementary math lessons.


Learning to Love Knitting

Diamond Fibers Yarn Cashmere Lace from Got Cashmere?

With the second report card now behind me, I recently took a look at the Art big ideas that I need to cover before the end of the year.  There it was… the objective I have stared at blankly in years past…. the dreaded Fabric Arts.

As a teacher, I have devoted much of my professional development time over the past few years collecting unique  Art projects that can help my students develop their Art skills.  I am lucky to have an amazing artist/ administrator in my school whose expertise has been invaluable to  me.  I have used many of her ideas and I will be forever grateful for all that she has taught me.  I have also started following many Art teachers’ blogs, and as a result, I  have a collection of amazing art blogs that I learn from on a regular basis.

In an effort to tackle those material art objectives, I recently decided to teach my class how to finger knit.  It started with a single finger knitting Truffula Tree Bookmark project to honor Dr Seuss’ Birthday .   In this project, my students created a single link chain with a pompom on top. As a knitter myself, I know this is not the most popular pastime. In fact, when I shared this hobby with my students on the first day of school, many of them told me even I was not old enough to knit! Thus, I was shocked when this knitting lessons was met with great enthusiasm as the students talked about their knitting all week!

Last week, we followed up on this enthusiasm by teaching the grade 3’s how to make a Truffula Tree Bookmark.  It was great to see my students  passing on their expertise to the younger students as they embraced this leadership opportunity.  We also expanded on our skills by learning to 4 finger knit necklaces or scarves.   Once again, my students excelled and I loved hearing the stories of how many of my students were digging out the yarn at home and teaching their families how to finger knit!

I look forward to repeating this lesson with my classes in the future, and now instead of dreading Material Arts, I am excited about the next project we take on.   I would love to hear any “Material Arts”  projects that your students have loved just as much as my class enjoyed knitting!

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