Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Math Post from Peg Bailey

This week, we have spent the last two days in meetings with our math consultant, Cassy Turner.  She met with grade level teams to talk about our successes with our new program, Math In Focus - and to help us look ahead as we plan our continued implementation.  It was good to hear her affirm how we're teaching math in our classrooms, and how engaged our students are with new vocabulary and problem-solving strategies.  One thing we heard loud & clear was to make sure our students are 'fluent' with their math facts.  So, continue to practice these at home.  Last night, approximately 35 parents attend "boot camp".  As one parent commented, "I need to be in school again to learn math this way."  Much of last night's session was "hands-on" for parents . . . here are notes taken by Peg Bailey from Cassy's presentation.  

Singapore Math In Focus
Boot Camp for Parents
February 2017

Presenter:     Cassy Turner, consultant and trainer

Big Ideas in Singapore Math:
Number Sense:  our goal for students is to develop a deep understanding of number
Making Connections:  we want students to see connections between mathematical ideas
Visualization:  mental models help students see the math
Metacognition:  we want to give students opportunities to “think about my thinking . . . .”
Communication:  How do I communicate and share my understanding?

For our youngest learners, they learn to tell a number story about a picture.  They learn to apply the concept of number bonds.  Students use manipulatives to understand math.  Math In Focus moves from concrete to pictorial to abstract. 

Strategies our students learn:
·      Make a ten
·      Using a tens frame
·      Make the next ten 
Where we start . . . 67 + 5  leads to a vertical algorithm  67

Language of Math In Focus - parents will likely hear:
·      Decomposing – breaking numbers apart to make an easier equation
·      Subitizing - You can see a quantity and know the number without counting.
·      Regrouping/Renaming – trading ones for a ten, tens for a hundred, etc.

Bar Modeling – an essential strategy (visual representation) in Singapore Math In Focus
·      Drawing a picture to represent a problem increases understanding
·      Bar models support students in 3/4th grades to understand fractions
·      Bar models introduce students to the structure of algebraic thinking

·      Part-whole models (adding or subtracting parts to make a whole) – students are introduced to this in the early grades
Examples of problems:  Helen has 14 breadsticks. Her friend has 17.  How may do they have altogether?  - Or - There are 21 fish in a bowl. Fifteen are from students. The rest are from the school.  How many are from the school?

·      Comparison models  (How many more or fewer is one quantity compared to another?) Example of a problem: Grant buys 345 fruit bars. Ken buys 230 more fruit bars than Grant.  How many fruit bars does Ken buy?

Parents worked on creating a bar model for this problem:

A farmer has in his pasture 63 farm animals consisting of cows, goats, and sheep.  There are twice as many goats as cows, and twice as many sheep as goats; how many has he of each sort? 
The bar models show we know the relationship
between goats and cows is 2:1.  This can be represented as 1 bar for cows and 2 bars for goats.  We know the relationship between sheep and goats is 2:1.  Therefore, there are 4 bars for sheep.  We know the total is 63 animals and we have 7 bars.  Therefore, 63 divided by 7 = 9.  If each bar represents 9, then we have 9 cows, 18 goats, and 36 sheep, which is 63 in all.)
This year, we are teaching computation to mastery – a foundation needed for the next grade’s work.  This year, some of the concepts are being picked up in science (such as measurement).  By the end of next year, students should be ‘caught up’ with the program, since this year we ‘backfilled’ some concepts and vocabulary since the program is new to all.

By the end of 1st grade, we want students to know their addition/subtraction facts by memory.
By the end of 3rd grade, we want students to know their multiplication facts by memory.
Parents are encouraged to play games and practice basic math facts.

We may want our children to get the right answer, but we also want them to know why it is the right answer.
Mathematical problem solving is central to mathematics learning. It involves the acquisition and application of mathematics concepts and skills in a wide range of situations, including non-routine, open-ended and real-world problems.

Resources: – website and iPad
Xyla and Yabu iPad app
Sunday, January 22, 2017

January is rolling along!

3 weeks have passed into the New Year and I am in constant marvel of your children. If you ask most teachers what their favorite month to teach is in the school year - they will say January because it is as if all of the earlier learnings of the year are now solidifying and students are flourishing. For me, this is so true and watching your children this month has been an absolute joy. Before we left school for the weekend on Friday, Ms. Thomas and I told the students how proud of them we were. They seemed to be genuinely pleased with themselves.... and they should be! 

During our Writer’s Workshop time -we have been working with the students to write persuasive opinion statements. Thanks to all of you who helped the students with their “tiny topic” journals. These journals have been a source of inspiration for the students when they are thinking of what  “opinions” they want to express. We started the unit by looking at six different breeds of dogs. We learned a little about each breed of dog and then we asked the students come up with an opinion as to which one they would get if they could. In establishing a strong opinion we discussed that it is good to have more than one reason to persuade the person you are trying to reach.  Ultimately, we have decided that in our writings we would try and come up with at least three different reasons to make a concrete opinion argument. We have moved from dogs to other subject areas like food, activities, places to travel and the most popular opinion writing choice- what is the best restaurant.  So far, I think that one of the most compelling opinion statements came from Stefanie when describing why you should shop at Costco. Her reason being that “they always have clean bathrooms”.  Oh, your children do make me smile!

We just finished up two math units in our Singapore Math. One unit was numerically based (Addition and Subtraction up to 20) and one was spatially based (2D shapes).
As we continue, we have been working on numbers up to 40, learning how to see the higher numbers as units of 10’s and 1’s.  For example, 32 would be 3 tens and 2 ones. The next unit we will be doing is addition and subtraction up to 40. As the students quickly found out in the addition and subtraction up to 20, the automaticity of the basic math facts is essential to progress. We have spent a lot of time trying to find ways to get the facts more automatic and for the most part, the only way this is going to happen is if we practice, practice, practice. Therefore, we introduced you to IXL, which is a basic skills site that your child can practice. In our homework we are suggesting no more than 10-15 minutes on this site at a time. Even if your child doesn’t finish the assigned task, we ask that you close it down after that amount of time. The beauty of this is if you want to open it up another day, you can always do that.  We don’t want this to take too long each time your child is on it. Another way that you can practice math facts is by playing different types of math games with cards and math facts. If you need ideas, please feel free to ask.

The concept of “Change Makers” has been further explored this month. In the fall we spoke of Jane Goodall as a “change maker”- a person who made a difference for standing up for what they believe in.  This last month, we have learned about Helen Keller, Martin Luther King and a little girl named Ayanna. The students came home with a Scholastic News that described how a young girl can make a difference as was depicted in the early 1960’s civil rights sit-ins. We were also graced with an amazing speaker at All School Chapel- Winona LaDuke spoke to the students about being an agent of change. She was so inspirational and motivational. We are having discussions about how we all have the potential of being a change maker. The homework assignment about, “If I Were President”.... led us into a conversation about the changes our students would like to see. Most of the changes centered around kindness. We talked about if we want to see change, we need to be prepared to stand up and tell others what we believe. Children were asked to read their “President Homework” sheets.  

Being that we have a new president, the students spent some time sharing their thoughts. They were very curious about how one president moves out and another moves in. We found a couple of different websites to show them the White House. They were mesmerized! We found one site that said that you could take a virtual tour of the White House on Google Earth. We didn’t have time to do this.... but I told the students that I would let you know and maybe they could go on it at home.

For science, we will begin our discussions about the ocean this week. The following week we will be going to the MN Zoo to see ocean life. The people who are assigned to this field trip have been notified already. 

In P.E. our skating units are completely done and we don’t have swimming until the end of the school year, so know that you won’t have to worry about any of that coming up soon!

A note from NAN ZOSEL!
Calling all BOXTOPS!  Please bring in box tops by Feb. 14.  Containers are located near door D in the Middle School.  The money raised by box tops supports student led Philanthropy Projects.  They do expire, so please bring them so that we can redeem them.  Thanks!

A note from Katie Peterson

Breck Summer Programs 2017 registration begins on Tuesday, January 17 at 8:00AM! We hope you will join us for "The Most Fun Under The Sun!" Please contact Katie Peterson, with any questions. The digital brochure is available on the Breck website or go to our online registration page here! 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Holiday is Upon Us!

What a spectacular month we have had in school. The holiday feeling began when all of the grandparents and special people joined us for their special day and continued on to the last minute of school before the vacation began. Your children have been so excited and joyful, they have truly been a magical holiday gift to Ms. Thomas and I. It seemed like whenever we turned our gaze from one child to another we were seeing acts of kindness and true holiday spirit. If you continue to read all the way to the end of might even get pictures! 

 Of course, the candy houses were a huge hit! What child wouldn't gaze upon trays of candy in sheer delight!  I did warn them that when they took them home.....the candy might be all dried out and too hard to eat. However, I believe that there were a few diehards who said that they didn't care and they were going to try and eat them anyway. (Good luck on that one!) Also from my previous might want to keep the candy house out of reach from doesn't end well. ;)

The Hanukkah party was a lovely event. The kids got to eat latkes, play with the dreidel and make paper menorahs. Of all of the events this month, this was the calmest of the it was nice to have a bit of a break!

The excitement of putting on the advent with a second grade class was beautiful. Mrs. Merrill's class and ours joined forces to put on a 20 minute advent gathering. We were in charge of lighting the 3rd week of advent candles (light, promise and hope) and then add a story of a person who personified the meaning of the 3 candles. The person that was chosen was Santa Lucia in that she was giving person who brought light into peoples lives when it didn't look like there was a lot of hope. The students handed out paper Santa Lucia buns that had one of those words on it ....and the audience was to make a personal wish of light, promise or hope for someone in their lives. Another feature of this was that some of the students were able to share their musical talent. Throughout the entire day, we had so many words of appreciation given to our class. They did an awesome job!

Amazingly, throughout all of this....we were able to publish our books in the writing unit of "How To's" . We have everything from How to Brush Your Hair, or Paint a Picture....even one on "How to Listen to the Teachers" ! They are delightful. We will be sending them home the week we get back from break.....but as soon as you have read them, they need to come back for our class library of published books!

Were you able to see our rock museum? The students proudly displayed their favorite rocks. We got a lot of amazing remarks from the lower school students! When we get back from break, we will get a chance to tumble our favorite rock and make them beautiful enough to hang as a necklace!

As many of you saw, the Holiday Program was a huge hit. We had 3 different rehearsals throughout the last week and the final product was beautiful. We have some true performers in our group!

Many of you have probably already received the mid year comment cards. When I write my comments, I am mindful to tell you how amazing each one of your children is and also the goals that I have set up for them for the rest of the year. Your children all have been progressing beautifully and I am anticipating so much more in the next five months!  In the math section, you will see that a lot of the markers have been marked with a N/I. That is either because we haven't introduced them yet or it is due to the new math program. Please read this note from Peg Bailey to explain more:

Dear Parents:
At the end of this week, your child's first semester progress report will arrive in your homes.  It's always a great time to reflect on all that our student's have accomplished . . . both as learners, friends, and classroom citizens.  You may notice that there are several markers in the Mathematics section of the report that are marked as "not introduced".  As you know, we've shifted our curriculum to Math In Focus (MIF), which has a different emphasis in content and sequence.  We will be revising the math section of our progress report for next year, giving us this year to implement MIF and identify our priority learning objectives in the curriculum.  Please refer to the narrative comments to gauge your child's progress in math this year.

As for what you can do over the holiday break? We did send home - "just right" books that your child  can read to you.  "Just right" meaning ...that they could read through most of it....but might have a challenge word here or there. These books are to be read when you have some relaxing time that you can enjoy and encourage your child's reading growth. They are not meant to be a daily assignment. 
The other thing that I encourage if you have a few extra minutes....or if you are standing in long lines...or on a long road practicing math facts. The last week we have been spending a lot of time with math facts to 10.......doubles (2+2, 3+3, 4+4 etc....), doubles 3+3+1. 8+8+1 etc.....) and some math facts that include a teen number and a number up to 10 (13+6, 17+2 etc...) The students are capable of solving all of the equations that we have been working on.....but need some additional support with automaticity. We have been working on many strategies to get them to solve these equations...but sometimes the basic speed of the math fact can get in the if you have time....take a few minutes here or there to run some math fact practice. 

Here it is.....I promised you!

I hope that your holiday vacation is filled with lots of love and time to rest. We all need it after this very busy month!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Movie from grandparents day!

For those who wanted to see what your grandparents saw at grandparents it is.

It's 9 minutes long....and loaded with choose a time when you can sit back and enjoy!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Note From Nan Zosel

 Winter Wear Wanted!

The Lower School is collecting new and gently used Winter Wear 
for families experiencing homelessness.
Coats  Jackets  Boots Snowpants

Students may bring donations to their classroom or 
deliver to the "Service Shelf" located near Gym C.
Nov. 29 - Th. Dec. 14 - Thanks!
Thursday, November 10, 2016

Mid November Has Arrived

As I was watching the students at recess the other day, it seemed so strange to see them running around without coats, hats and mittens on a mid November day. We have been truly blessed with the sunshine and warmth that we have had this fall. It has been a special gift. Who knows how long this weather will last.....I suggest making sure you have all the winter gear they will need sooner than later as we know that it eventually will be coming our way!

This week has been an interesting week to say the least. The election has created a buzz in the environment. In some cases it has been a buzz of excitement in other cases it has brought up many thoughts of concern. We respect that there are a multitude of thoughts in regards to the election and we have been allowing your child to talk. We have not spoken about the results of the election as a full group but rather, we have chosen to talk with the students in small groups or individually. We have found that the smaller setting allows children to share more freely. We feel that our job is to let the students know that we are hearing them and that adults are doing everything they can to make them feel safe.

In other news, we have been incredibly busy, as usual. There are days that I look at my watch and I can’t believe that it is already noon. For example, on Tuesday, we went from our meeting time, to guided reading, to word work groups, to Chinese, to math and then to skating within the first 3 hours of the day! It is unbelievable what we get accomplished!

In Writer’s Workshop, we started our new unit on “How To’s”.  We have spent a lot of time brainstorming what we are good enough at doing, that we could explain it in simple steps. This believe it or not is the hardest part of the How To project. The students need to decide on something that is explainable and not too big. For example, a lot of students have said that they want to write a How To about skating. We have been coaching them to see that  skating is too big for a how to....but a certain part like how to skate backwards would be more appropriate. At this point, we have written a How To about brushing teeth.....but will be asking them to think in more depth about other things that they could explain. We are using word organizing words like, “First, Then, Next, Last” to guide our writing instructions.

In Science, we are continuing our study of rocks. Morgan’s dad, Brian Wright was our special geologist visitor who came down and talked to the students about the 3 main different types of rocks- sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic. He even wrote a song with a little rap in it that the kids learned how to sing. We are going to continue practicing you might hear parts of it  at home! 

Our Guided Reading and Word Work Groups have been moving along beautifully. It is always such a treat for us as teachers to see your child grow and develop new reading strategies. It is also a joy to watch your children truly enjoy literature!

In math, we are starting to work with numbers up to 20. Our ultimate goal is for your children to think of numbers as a group of tens and ones....and right now we are establishing the language and using graphic organizers.

A couple of housekeeping thoughts:
-If you haven’t signed up for grandparents/special person’s day, do so as soon as you can,

-If you know of anyone who is interested in attending Breck, have them come to the Open House on Saturday, November 12th!

-If you travel and would love to open up the world to your child’s class....feel free to send a postcard to our room and tell us about where you are:
         The address is: 123 Ottawa Ave N. Golden Valley, MN 55422

-Remember to look at your child’s homework folder everyday and initial the Peek at the Week.
Sunday, October 30, 2016

End of October

The last days of October are here and there is much excitement in the air. Your children have been eagerly anticipating the Halloween holiday and have been making decorations to fill our room with merriment. I am sure that this Halloween at school will be one that they will remember as we have lots of fun activities prepared! I know that most of you have experienced a Halloween at Breck, but I feel that we should probably review some of the basic facts of the day.
-To start, if you are driving your child to school, it is a very popular day and there is limited parking. Arrive early so that you can get a spot. We will be opening the classroom doors at 8:15.
-Your child should be in complete costume when they arrive at school. In some cases, such as if their costume is too bulky to get through the bus door and they need to put it on when they enter the school doors that is completely fine. However, please don’t send your child with anything that needs to be assembled. We really do not have the time to take care of anything too big...because the parade begins right at the beginning of the school day.
-Our parade and lower school sing along is always a favorite of the parents. If you would like to go to the Anderson gym and sit on the bleachers, we would love to have you join us. It usually lasts until 9:15.
- If you are helping with the party- it will begin directly after the parade/sing a long.
-PLEASE...have your child wear clothing under their costume of have something that they can change into. We are going skating at 11:05.... so they will need to be in clothing that will be suitable under their gear. Also.... PLEASE have a bag that your child can put their entire costume in..... so that they don’t lose any pieces. Thank you!

It hasn’t all been about Halloween in first grade! We have been so busy, it seems as if a day doesn’t go by where I am not astonished with all that your children are accomplishing. I have many pictures to share with all of you, but I have been having issues converting them into a form that you can see them on the blog. We are in the process of trying some new strategies; so don’t be surprised if when I get it working again, you might just receive a blog of short picture videos.

Our science study of rocks has been amazing! Your children have been sponges and can’t seem to get enough of looking at their findings in a magnifying glass or a microscope. Especially when they get their microscopes focused on something sparkly or shiny, it is as if they are opening a hidden treasure! The excitement in their eyes and the enthusiasm they are sharing with all when they make a new discovery is infectious! Thank you for helping them find their 10 rocks. To start we compared our property words, to find that there were many similarities between boxes. They seemed especially interested in a rock that was a conglomerate. I think that they liked the word more than anything. We will continue measuring our rocks and doing other experiments over the next 2 months.

In Writer’s Workshop, we are about to finish our first writing unit called the: Small Moment. We have been learning how to edit. Whether editing means to check for punctuation, looking for capitol letter usage or adding on for more clarification, your children have been working on one or all of the above. We have been having them share their writings with a writing partner who has helped guide the editing process. By Friday, we will be having our first published book celebration.

Our Guided Reading/ Word Work Groups have been in full swing for 2 weeks now. We have appreciated you helping your child getting their guided reading books back every day. We have guided reading 4 times in our 6 day schedule, so plan on having your child read the book or the chapter in the book that we have assigned and return it the next day. There will be some days that your child will be bringing home a book that we aren’t doing in guided reading, but instead it will be what we call a ”just-right” book.

Math! With the new curriculum and the excitement that was brought to us by Cassy Turner (our math advisor), I have been experiencing the teaching of math in a different way. Your children seem to be responding to in a very positive way. By the end of this upcoming week we will have finished our 4th unit on subtracting numbers 1-10. This math program spends a lot of time working on the real world math problem and then the conversion to the actual algorithm. What has been interesting is to teach is that addition and subtraction are really intertwined. We will be doing a few lessons later this week where we are going to teach math families. In a simplistic form you can take the same 3 numbers and write them in different forms.
Example: 3+4=7 or 4+3=7 or 7-4=3 or 7-3=4

Last Friday, we got a SeeSaw app up and running on our iPads. This app. is made so that you can view some of the work that your child has been doing in class. At this point, we only have a couple of pictures on it, but we see that it will be used for more curricular areas in the long run. We will be sending home a sheet that has a QR code and instructions on it. All you will need to do is upload the SeeSaw app and run the code and you should be able to view what your child has done. 

To think that we have only finished 2 months of the school year!