Wednesday, July 8, 2015

I Teach 1st! {Day 2}

I'm back to share with you what I learned during day 2 at I Teach 1st!

Day 2 started off with Matt Gomez with a session about inquiry-based learning.  I saw Matt last year at I Teach K, and was interested to learn more about his classroom.  This session did not disappoint!  It was so exciting to see someone else who loves project-based stuff, and someone who has the flexibility to do things that are right for his kiddos. Some of the things they did and were interested in were so cool.  Some of my take-aways were:

  • They learn more through the process than the product, so don't focus as much on what the product looks like as the process to get there.  
  • When you take videos, take them horizontally for easier formatting and transfer to editing programs.  His kiddos use cameras all the time and this is one of their lessons.
  • Coding can be done!  I wrote a little about this in my post about making video games.  I learned about some new apps and websites that I'm excited to try out: Scratch Jr., Made With Code,
  • Have students make videos explaining what they are doing throughout the process.  This can be done using still photos in an app or just by taking a video.  

Using glue guns in K!
Above you will see the building of a project.  Students were told to make the tallest structure you can with popsicles and hot glue.  Some of the mouths dropped when he said that the kids use glue guns.  The more I thought about it, I thought, heck yeah, I'd let them do it.  We'll see how that goes; we're going to need plenty of ground rules and small group learning to introduce that.

The second session of the day was about increasing reading and math fluency with Jodi Southard from Fun in First.  Fluency is something that I think is a struggle for my kiddos, especially when our curriculum that we are to follow does not really do much to address it.  I was looking for new ideas to help with this.

Some of the ideas to help build fluency were:

  • Choral reading to provide support for students who are shy or struggling.  
  • Echo reading to help students hear it fluently the first time.
  • Read it like a... (monster, robot, underwater, etc.
  • Use songs: song books for reading and make up songs for strategies in math to help them become more fluent.  HeidiSongs would be great for this to build sight word fluency.

I had two ideas that I really liked.  The first one was to label thing around the room using complete sentences.  Instead of just writing "clock", write, "Can you tell what time it is?".  I think this would work for my kiddos the second half of the year, but the first half it would just be too much.  I'd love to have them make the labels.  The other thing I really liked was writing notes to the kids on sticky note and stick them at their seats periodically.  They are going to want to read this and will take the time to decode or use resources to do so.

My third session was about developing mathematical thinking with Eliza Thomas.  I was looking for more ways to get my kids to think mathematically and be able to talk about their thinking.  I loved her phrase "purposeful eavesdropping", which is simply what all teachers do, listen in when kids are collaborating.  Instead of just listening in, though, you are listen specifically for who "gets it" and for any "ah ha's" that you can share with the class.  When students give an answer, ask "Is there another way?"  This will get them thinking and help them realize there is more than one right answer.  She also suggested using cuisenaire rods to help show combinations that make a number.  I had some of these (not sure where they are right now) but had no idea what to do with them.  So smart!

This was an example another teacher sent of the cuisenaire rods being used in her classrooms to make sets.
In addition to just thinking mathematically, we want our kiddos also be able to talk about explain how math works.  Using vocabulary throughout the day and asking "Is there another way?" or "Can you explain your thinking?" will encourage them to do so.  She also talked about incorporating multiple skills in one project.  The website suggested for great ideas for these types of projects (with standards attached!) is  Once you are there, you go to "3-Act lessons. It looked like there were some great lessons on there that would be fun to try out with my kiddos and get them thinking.

The final session I attended today was also with Eliza Thomas and it was about math mentor texts.  I was so excited about this one because I know I can be better about using literature in math.  I think it will be easiest to make list so you can easily see the books and the idea(s) for each book (all links to Amazon).

  • Memoirs of a Goldfish/Memoirs of a Hamster:  If you haven't read these, they are cute!  Her suggestion to tie in math was to have them write a math story of themselves (numbers about me idea) or a math memoir of the year (favorite things learned in math, strategies used, etc)
  • Duck! Rabbit!: Make and analyze a graph showing which character you think it is.
  • 1+1=5: There is an example of this book below.  Students could then write their own problems and make it into a class book.
  • 100 Snowmen: The story tells about the adventures of snowmen and in the end, all adds up to 100.  She suggested using this on the 100th day and having students string 100 beads on a strong (10 of each color, alternating 2 colors- ex: 10 red, 10 blue, 10 red, 10 blue, etc).  Then, as you read the story, the kids "act it out" using their bead strings.  They could then write their own story.
  • Matherpieces: This book uses classical art to introduce math concepts.  Students could look for math in their environment, take a picture and teach someone about the math they see.
  • 12 ways to get to 11 (suggested by another workshop participant)
  • Amy Axelrod books (also suggested by another workshop participant) for a variety of math concepts.

This session was small, so she asked us where we wanted the focus to be.  Most people asked her to incorporate math and writing, which after listening to her presentation, seems like it will be a great way to get more writing into my day!

Looking forward to day 3 tomorrow!


  1. Thanks so much for sharing your learning. Wumbers is a great book that you could use for writing and math.

    1. Thanks! I'm going to check it out right now!