Tuesday, September 13, 2016

"How much?" vs. "How many?"

Can you believe it? I haven't blogged since April... and it's been amazing!
You heard me right. I've been busy enjoying life and summer. On the scale of life, family time has definitely outweighed work time. This doesn't mean I haven't been thinking math. I have enjoyed lurking on Twitter and reading blog posts here and there. Keep up the great work everyone.

So, I'm dusting off the blog and wiping away the cobwebs so I can share just one gift of parenting a six year-old, learning the English language. Well, at least one part of the English language: when to use "how many?" and when to use "how much?"

I provide my son with a healthy amount of questions that involve estimation. I know, big shocker. So it shouldn't surprise you (or me for that matter) when he fires them back at me. However, it's extremely interesting that most of the time he begins his questions with "how much".

Here are some examples. Hey Dad, I wonder
  • How much air is in the tire?
  • How much pumps of air the tire will need?
  • How much miles it is to the beach?
  • How much pancakes will we make?
Can you spot which questions need help?
What advice would you offer a six-year old (and his dad) so he is better equipped to know when to either use "much" or "many"?

Here's what I offered him:
If it something you can count, use "how many"
  • How many pancakes will we make? 10
  • How many eggs are in a dozen? 12
  • How many pumps did it take to fill the tire? 6
  • How many minutes until we leave for soccer practice? 5
If it is something that is difficult to count, use "how much"
  • How much air is in the tire? not much
  • How much sunblock did you put on? only on my face
  • How much ketchup would you like? a lot
I'm more fond of my criteria for using "how many", but I'm not entirely convinced my criteria for "how much" will win me English/Math teacher of the year. I know there is a way to quantify the air inside a tire. There is a way to quantify the amount of sunblock applied. Help me make the criteria better and easily comprehensible for a six-year old.

Hope the school year is going well!


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Principles to Actions Book Club [phases]

Inspired by Kaneka Turner's #ShadowCon16 talk, I decided to form a Principles to Actions book club during the summer of 2016. Sorry, the club will be comprised of teachers in my district. I'm excited at how it is shaping up in the past week. I broke it into three planning phases before we actually start reading NCTM's Principles to Actions. I recommend you start your own. Here's why:

Phase 1:
I created a goal for the book club (inspired straight from Principles to Actions):
Collaborate with other TUSD teachers to strengthen our math teaching practice and improve the learning of mathematics by engaging students in mathematical thinking, reasoning, and sense making.
I reached out to a small group of (K-12) math teachers and coaches in my district to generate interest.
10 teachers replied with interest. We're ready for Phase 2.

Phase 2:
I will tap into the wisdom of these 10 teachers to help structure:
  • HOW we will accomplish our goal.
  • WHAT tools we will use to accomplish our goal.
I'm confident these 10 teachers will help structure how we discuss the book, how much time we spend as a book club, how we will collaborate (virtually or in person), etc. I also know these teachers will help suggest what tools we might use to help assist in the virtual collaboration. For example, Google Docs, Google Classroom, Padlet, etc. 

I asked them for input via Google Forms. Here are the questions I asked.

Once I hear back from this small group, I will move forward in structuring the PtA book club along with setting up the digital tools and spaces that make the most sense. Phase 3 is next...

Phase 3:
I plan to do a district-wide invite to the Principles to Actions book club so anyone who teaches math is invited. More importantly, I am counting on the small group of 10 teachers to reach out to other colleagues at their site and throughout the district to personally invite teachers to the Principles to Actions book club. I'm confident their reach and influence will make the collaboration more meaningful and fun for all invloved.

I've never done something like this before, but I'm excited because I am confident in the 10 teachers who have already expressed interest. I encourage you to find something mathy you can invite others to be a part in. Maybe it's a Principles to Actions book club. 

Please let me know if you have any questions or tips!


Friday, April 22, 2016

Open Middle and Google Docs

A few weeks ago Kassie, a teacher I support, came up with a great idea. The idea was inspired by one of our other Digital Learning Coaches, Michelle, who introduced Kassie to hyperdocs.

Idea: Incorporate Open Middle problems with Google Docs.

Here's how it went...
Kassie had her students work in eight groups. This happens often in her class. She pushed out one Google Doc to the entire class so every student has editing rights. However, you just need one group member to make edits for their group.

Each group was working on the following open middle tasks:
Use the integers from 0 through 9 only once to create an equation with:
Day 1: One solution
Day 2: No solution
Day 3: Infinite solutions

First, students work on their desks with whiteboard markers, discussing with their group members. Isn't that lovely!
Second, students enter their equation into their respective cell inside the Google Doc table.

Third, each group needs to test the equations that other groups submitted. Keep in mind, that each group could not submit an equation identical to another group. Once they worked on other equations, they entered if they agreed or disagreed with other groups.

I experienced Day 1 and it was awesome to see the collaboration and community of learning throughout the room. When debriefing with Kassie about Day 3, she told me students realized an equation with infinite solutions couldn't be done if they use the numbers 0 through 9 only once. That's awesome! Good work kiddos! She ended up allowing them to use a number more than once. I'm wondering how it might change if we allowed them to use the numbers 1-10 (only once).

Since our middle school students work on iPads, a large Google Doc table like the one above might not let the math breathe on a smaller screen. I adapted her Google Doc to look more like this as a template:
  • I split the eight groups into two tables on two separate pages.
  • Each group still enters their answer into their respective highlighter-yellow cell.
  • Each group has a vertical column so they work downward when entering agree/disagree

I inserted this Open Middle question as a placeholder above the table inside the template.

Make your own copy of the template by clicking here

This is definitely a way for students to create their own answers which turn into questions their classmates can use to practice procedures and challenge their understanding of specific math concepts. It is student focused. It's a great way for students to generate questions that both the teacher and students can use. It makes math a social experience through the use of technology. All of the student answers are housed in one location.

Open Middle,

We have Google Classroom in our district which makes it 200 (student) times easier to push things like this out to students. If you don't have Google Classroom, there are other ways to get this out to your students' devices. If you need ideas, hit me up in the comments or on Twitter.