Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Math Talk Part 4 of 4

I am sorry it has been a few weeks for me to get this post written, but my goodness changing districts and job title really takes up a lot of time the last few weeks of summer!  This is part 4 of 4 postings that I have been writing that teaches one way to structure Math Talk in your classroom at any age.   This post picks up Math Talk in February and March of the school year.

This time of the school year involves using Math Talk to help students gain fluency with the desired methods.
*Now students may choose a method to solve each problems.  We should see them choose more formal/efficient math methods.

*Fluency involves being able to explain (teach) their methods and also be able to question other's strategies for more clarity.

*The teacher can challenge student understanding by choosing more challenging problems.  This will test true mathematical understanding by applying what they know about certain strategies (prior knowledge) and applying it to other areas.  When I am focusing on double digit addition w/o regrouping then I will throw in a 3- digit addition w/o regrouping to see if they understand the strategies.  Be sure to choose a problem that will allow them to do similar steps to solve the problem, but will need an extra step.

Phase 1 of Math Talk- Explore growth and understanding of mathematical concepts and knowledge.

Phase 2 of Math Talk- Understanding of the mathematical concepts and growing fluency.

Phase 3 of Math Talk- Fluency (Reason, explain, and question).

Building a Math Talk Community

Frequent opportunities for students to explain their mathematical thinking is a must to make the Math Talk more successful and strengthen mathematical skills in the classroom.  As students frequently question, listen, and practice expressing their strategies aloud, they increase their knowledge of mathematical concepts as well as take more responsibility for learning.  Here are some questions you can use to build the Math Talk Community in your classroom:

Create Student Thinking:

  • What is the problem about?
  • Tell us what you see.
  • Tell us your thinking.
  • What did you think of first, next, then, finally...  

Support Student Thinking:

  • Can you tell us what you meant when you said _________?
  • When you decided to do _____________, what were you thinking?
  • Use your drawing to show us what you mean.
  • Take your time......, we will wait......, 

Extend Student Thinking:

  • I hear you saying _________________.  Is that correct?
  • Now can you think of another way to solve this problem?
  • How is your strategy similar to the way _________ solved his/her problem?
  • How is your strategy different to the way _________ solved his/her problem?

Increase participation of other students in the conversations:

  • Prompt students to participate further- Would someone like to add anything?
  • Try to get students to restate the reasoning of others- Can you repeat what _______ said in your own words?
  • Try to get students to apply their own reasoning to someone else's reasoning:
    • Do you agree or disagree?  Why or why not?
    • Did anyone solve the problem in a different way?  Did you get the same answer?
    • Did anyone solve the problem and get a different answer?  Please share your strategy with us.

Probe specific math topics:

  • What would happen if ___________?
  • How can we check to be sure our answer is correct?
  • Is that always true?
  • What patterns do you notice or see?

I taught the 2013 Common Core edition of Math Expressions last school year and have never been so impressed with the mathematical understanding my first graders would share with me all year.  I have already created I Can statements for the Math Expressions first grade and am now finished with the second grade I Can statements.  This second grade product should be posted on My teachers pay teachers store by Sept.7, 2014  Please understand that these statements are taken from each and every lesson of the 2013 Common Core edition and will be different if you are teaching from an earlier edition.  I am also working on the kindergarten I Can statements and hope to have it out within the next month.   Here are some slides from this product.  Every slide includes vocabulary if used in the lesson and a visual example of the I Can statement that can be used as an intro to each lesson.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Getting to Know Me! (Linky)

I am linking up with Stephanie over at Falling into First for my first linky of August.  Here are a few things about me!
My name is Tina Parker and for the last 13 years, I have been teaching first grade. This coming school year I am not only changing jobs (elementary interventionist K-5 in both reading and mathematics), but also changing districts to take the position.  

I am married and have three very active children.  Madisyn is 8 and enjoys swimming, gymnastics, going for bike rides, and loves all animals. 

Easton is 5 and will be starting kindergarten in a few weeks.  He enjoys going for bike rides, teasing his sisters, and anything that involves planes, trains, and automobiles.  

Addalyn is 3 going on 14 and this one keeps me on my toes.  She is lucky she is cute ;).  She loves playing house, dolls, anything sparkly, and the colors pink and purple.  


My Children.  Neon colors. Mr. Sketch markers. Creating my own classroom materials. Going for walks with my family. Watching my children growing up. Meeting new people through blogging, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.  PowerPoint.  Flash drives. The sport of swimming. 



I cannot stand sitting still so I would need a job that would keep me moving.  Maybe working for the post office.  I love sorting out papers and I could get a workout all day!  


Quiet.  Perfectionist. Workaholic


"I would love to extend the school day.  My first graders can handle more sitting time...said no teacher EVER!!"



I am not big on celebrating my birthdays, but I would invite my immediate family, my great-grandpa Charlie, and my brother in law, Chuck.  Both are passed, but I would love for my family to see them one more time :)


 Organized Chaos

I would love the ability to heal those who are sick or hurt..... 


" You are never too old to set a new goal or dream a new dream."
-C. S. Lewis-


 Strawberry Wine by Deena Carter......  no lie!!



Both, but if I had to choose then I would say a night owl.  Once my children are in bed, my work motivation kicks in and it is hard to stop!! 



 I absolutely love my Math intervention products!  I created these products for our math intervention time and I cannot believe how engaged each and every one of my students are during these lessons.  The best part is that the lesson plans are included!!
Math Intervention Building Number Sense (with lesson plans)

My Math Intervention (with lesson plans) product

I am an extreme perfectionist.... I am very hard on myself and what I expect of myself.  This can be a very strong weakness, but does work for me most times in this profession!!
Thanks for taking the time to get to know me!

Math Talk.....The Big Math Trend Making a Difference (If you do it correctly) PART 3 of 4

This post contains part three of a four part series about how you can incorporate Math Talk into your classroom in quick and easy way.  I have been posting two months at a time to help you ease your students into becoming great math communicators!  If you missed my first two postings then you can read PART 1 HERE or PART 2 HERE. 

At this point of the school year your students have the expectations and routines understood so now it is time to put those routines in action.  I like to challenge my students in a variety of different ways by using one problem, but multiple strategies we have already practiced.  I use story problems that I create myself to facilitate the Math Talk lessons.  This way I can really focus on a certain type of story problem (result unknown, change unknown, start unknown, doubles, doubles + 1, and so on).  Story problems also give students math vocab exposure to help with story problem comprehension. 

 I created these headers and placed them on the front dry erase board.  All of these strategies were the ones my first graders were practicing, but you may want to create your own based on the strategies that your students will be learning.  All of these strategies could be used with both addition and subtraction with numbers up to 20.  I say this because you really do not want your students practicing inefficient strategies.  The circle drawing and counting on box strategies are not efficient with numbers over 20, but works well with numbers up to 20. 

I set my Math Talk lesson a bit different than others may.  I choose 5 random students to work on one of the strategies at the board (do NOT only choose your high students to go to the board.  Student errors on the board create wonderful learning opportunities during the questioning portion of the Math Talk lesson).  The other students in the class will be working on the problem using each of the strategies.  Once the students at the board are finished then they will quickly and quietly go back to their seats and start working on the sheet as well.  I love this method because all the students are engaged for at least the first 5-7 minutes.  My quick workers take about that long to finish showing all five strategies and my struggling students at least are attempting or finishing up the circle drawing and maybe the counting on box strategies.  This is valuable time for me to walk around and take note on student work and to guide students that may need it.  You would be amazed how engaged these students are during this time.  If students finish early I will have them turn the paper over, look at the strategies on the board, and write down questions you will have for each of the strategies.  It is honestly almost too easy!! 

Once students SOVLE the problem and show their strategies then I will have those students that showed their work on the board come up to explain their strategies.  Students at their seats will be listening and then thinking of questions to ask each that student about how they solved their work.  This questioning takes practice and I will get into this part of Math Talk in the fourth and final posting later this week. 

This is an example (above) of how I modify my Math Talk lessons with my class.  I moved my students from one digit addition and subtraction to double digit addition.  I keep the same format for each of the lessons, but will change the strategies or the order of the strategies to make sure students are always looking at the strategies closely. 
To get started with Math Talk in your classroom then you need to come up with a list of strategies you would like your students to know and use.  After teaching at least one of the strategies, then you can start the whole group Math Talk.  As you teach another strategy then just add it to your list of strategies on the recording sheet.  Just make sure your students get used to explaining their strategies first to a partner, then small group, and then whole group.  Only take volunteers to explain in the front of the classroom.  More shy students will come around and volunteer after a while, but you do know they understand the strategies through their written work and then you can come up to them during work time to hear their explanations.  Hearing students explain their strategies is VERY important because you will be able see if they are solving the problem through procedural knowledge or true understanding.   

Here is a sneak peek of a product I just finished and will go more into detail in part 4 of the Math Talk posting.   This product will teach efficient strategies to your students and have activities to support that teaching.
Have a great week!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Math Talk…..The Big Math Trend Making a Difference (If you do it correctly) PART 2 of 4

This is part 2 of 4 of the Number Talk/Math Talk guide.  If you did not read part 1 of this series, click HERE 

Your students should have that critical understanding of quantity of number and basic Math Talk at the end of the first two months of school.  October and November will be a time to get your students used to your expectations and really setting up structure in your classroom. 

3 Key Components of Math Talk

1.You will need to build a cohesive classroom that encourages mathematics conversations that are safe, supportive, and risk free.  State your expectations before each math lesson.  In first grade I like to create learning targets to refer to and that are applicable to every Math Talk session.  Here are three examples I have created according to the needs of my students. 


2.  Classroom Discussions
When you first present each problem, ask the students to first try solving using mental math.  Mental math encourages students to build on number relationships to solve problems instead of relying on memorized procedures. 

When students come up with an answer, have them place their fist to their chest with their thumb up to show they have an answer.  Once they have an answer then they will put one finger up for every other strategy they come up with on that same hand.  This gives you an opportunity to challenge your advanced students and give more time for struggling students to come up with one answer.  This is a great time for you to walk around the group and ask questions to check for understanding. 

Clip art created by  Melonheadz Illustrating

Clip art created by Melonheadz Illustrating

Once the class have their answers and strategies, then I always give my students a chance to practice explaining their strategy with a partner.  I assign math spots in a circle arrangement on the floor and then I partner students up that are next to them.  They are grouped heterogeneously so I have some control of the learning process.   Group students that work well together and I would suggest grouping your high students with students that are more of the mid to higher math students, rather than with your lowest.

When I group my students, I will roughly rank (number order) my students from high to low according to overall strength in mathematics.  I will then divide my class in half and group my highest students in the class with the highest middle students.  My struggling students will then be grouped with the middle students.
Example:  10 students in my class (Don't I wish :)!)
Student #1 grouped with student # 6
Student #2 grouped with student #7
Student #3 grouped with student #8
Student #4 grouped with student #9
Student # 5 grouped with students #10

3.  Purposeful Computation Problems
The problems you choose to have your students work on need to guide students to focus on specific mathematical relationships.  The teacher is responsible for deciding what the learning target will be, choosing numbers that are in an acceptable range for the needs of your students, and making sure your students understand_____________________________________

Here is an example:
I always choose my Math Talk problems as a form of review or challenge of the previous day’s focus.  If we have been working on addition and subtraction to 20 and using circle drawings to show our work, then the next day I will have my students try to solve a similar type-problem using mental math, base ten blocks and leftover ones, and so on.  I do not want my students to become comfortable with one strategy.  Flexibility in thinking is a main focus I want my students to understand in mathematics.

If you like these learning targets and teach the Math Expression Common Core Edition, then check out this product.  I have designed every single first grade lesson into learning targets/ I Can statements.  All have lesson vocabulary listed along with a teaching examples on every target.  You can check out this product here in my store
The next posting will be part 3 of Math Talk (Dec/Jan).  This is where it gets good!  Prepare to be amazed with what first grade students are able to do!!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Math Talk..... The Big Math Trend Making a Difference (If You Do It Correctly)- PART 1 of 4

Earlier this summer I went to a math workshop by the one and only Greg Tang.  Now if you have seen him present before then you know he has no filter in his thinking or opinions.  Personally, I find him very entertaining and an mathematical genius.  At one point of the workshop he began making fun of "Number Talk" or "Math Talk," calling it worthless in the classroom.  He went on to explain that the kind of math talk he has observed has trained students into copying strategies of the "smart" kids and teachers praising any strategy......

Two months before this day I just entered a 10 page paper, an additional 10 pages of supplemental materials, and 45 minutes of video of how I conduct "Math Talk" in my first grade classroom to the NSF for the 2014 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching award .  When Greg Tang spoke those words, my heart sank thinking that now I would not have a chance at that award :(.  

But then I thought about it...... My "Math Talk" is nothing like Greg Tang's explanation.  The following outlines how I set up my 2013-14 first graders to become some of the greatest math thinkers I have ever taught.

I am going to guide you through a years worth of Math Talk to get the most out of your students (Mathematically) in a fun, interactive, and engaging way!!  I am going to focus on two months at a time so you do not have so much to take in at once :). 

I started the year with the whole group instruction to facilitate math talk.  Dot pattern flash cards are such an easy way to encourage math talk with the group.  The dot pattern below can be flashed to the class for 1-2 seconds and then hidden from view.  Ask your students to share how many dots they saw on the paper?  Then, once they share that number then ask each student HOW they saw the pattern (notice that the dots are trying to get students to think of 3 and 1 with then will relate to 3 + 1= 4).  Then ask other students how they saw the dot patterns.  The important part of this conversation is to show the students the pattern card once again and to ask them what patterns they notice.  Guide them with questioning to discover that there is 3 red dots and 1 yellow dot and then relate that pattern to the equation of 3 red dots and 1 yellow dot is 3 + 1= 4 total dots.  The vocabulary of using the word, total, is very important as well.

Use 5 frames with your students BEFORE 10 frames.  Once students "see" patterns of 5 and have those patterns written out into equations, then seeing patterns of 10 become much easier.

Once students have a strong understanding of patterns of 5, then move to using 10 frames.  Encourage and guide students to see number 6 as 5 and 1 more (5 + 1), 7 as 5 and 2 more (5 + 2).  Always relate the verbal to writing to bridge common gaps with learning facts.

10 frames are a great way to teach the understanding of teen numbers.  12 is 10 and two more (10 + 2), 13 is 10 and 3 more (10 + 3).  Remember to ask questions of your students to specifically guide them to understand AND apply the learning goal/target.
 I would suggest going through these dot patterns as a math warm-up DAILY (5-10 minutes) and then referencing them when working on math fact practice later on in the school year.  You can extend the understanding by showing two dot pattern cards at once to find the total and even adding white boards to further extend that mathematical thinking.

I created these ten frames myself using a table in PowerPoint and circle shapes.  I then saved them in JPEG form and done.  If you would like a copy of these 5, 10, and 10+ templates then just leave your email in the comments area and I will send them to you :). 

My next post will talk about where to go next with Math Talk in October and November.  Oh and for that Presidential Award (PAEMST), I just found out last week that I am once again a state finalist for 2014 and will have another chance at being a National Recipient!!!  My fingers are crossed because either I win this year or I will not apply again in 2016.    2012 was a disappointing national runner-up. 

Thanks and feel free to follow my blog to get the rest of this blogging series as it is posted!

Friday, July 25, 2014

First Day of School Activities Blog Hop!

Hello Everyone!

I am excited to be teaming up with a great group of bloggers and hosted by Mackenzie from
Brownbag Academics.  This blog hop will give you a number of great ideas that you can use right away on the first day of school. 
Brownbag Academics

Since the first day of school is very hectic for first graders, I always like to break up the long first few days with literature and craftivities that go along with the literature.

My favorite first day of school book is, "First Day Jitters" by Julie Danneberg. 

I start out by telling them how nervous I get on the first day of school, even though I am a teacher.  I will ask them to think to themselves about one reason they were nervous this morning coming to school.  I will then give them an opportunity to share with a partner near them, and then finally I will ask for volunteers to share their jitters coming to school this morning. 

Nancy Vandenberge over at firstgradewow.blogspot.com has a great resource that I use bits and pieces of.  You can get her 13 page download with activities HERE. 

Another activity I will conduct with my students is an I Have Who Has activity whole group.  I will have students pick sticks for partners (their partner will have the same sticker on their stick) and they will share a card.  I will give them time to figure out the words together before starting the activity whole group.

I have the complete short and long vowel packet in my store HERE!!  You can also get the Freebie version of just the short /a/ activity as my store featured download freebie HERE

I always start teaching mathematics the first day of school and one activity students love is this one were they roll a die or dice (depending on grade level) and then practice writing the quantity of number in circle groups of 5 and leftovers.  Building this understand of the quantity of 5 will help ensure they meet the end of the first grade goal of fluency of numbers w/in 10.

Get your copy of this activity HERE  Once we work on this in class then I will send another copy home with my students to get in the habit early of learning at home.  The fact that we have already practiced during the school day will increase the likelihood they will actually do the homework because they already know what is expected of them. 

Finally, since it is so important to work on classroom expectations starting on day 1, I am going to share my Whole Brain Teaching rule cards I created for my classroom.  If you have not tried this method of classroom management then you are missing out!!  I love trying new things in my classroom as long as they work and when I tried the Whole Brain Teaching last school year, my whole classroom management was so much more manageable.  For more information about this FREE resource click HERE.

To get a free copy of these 5 rules to display in your classroom please click HERE

Check out what other teachers are doing on their first days of school below by clicking on their links.  This is a wonderful opportunity for you to get a few steps ahead before your school year starts!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Simple Instructional Strategies Guaranteed Success in Mathematics

With new educational research coming out all the time, I have found 5 staples of math instruction that applies to any math curriculum as well as any grade level!

 Make sure the students are doing the thinking!!! 
  • DO NOT think for your students!
  • DO NOT tell your students too much!
  • Whenever you feel like telling your students something during a lesson, ask a question instead.

Listen to what your students are saying, not just what you hope to hear!!
  • Ask questions to determine what they are really understanding.  Have your students "defend" their answers.  If you work hard at this at the beginning of the school year, then this will quickly become a wonderful habit!

Partner Talk or Math Talk is a MUST!

Slow down your math activities and give each child a chance to share.  I know that in the lower primary grades I have found success in partner shares.  This way all students have a chance to talk.  Once students have a chance to share with their partners, then I will discuss the strategies whole group. 
  • This method works in many ways.  Shy or anxious students may just get enough confidence they need to volunteer in front of the class and  students get a chance to talk through their strategies before sharing to catch any mistakes.  Students can also share out what their partner said to them.  This is another great way to dig deeper into the problem.

Be patient with your students!
  • We all mean well when we jump in to save students, but this hurts students in the long run.  They will learn quickly that teachers will do the thinking for them and that they do not even need to try.  Review the first tip I gave you about ask a question instead of telling.


Always Assess!!
  • Assessment should not be something that is only conducted at the end of a topic.  Assessment should be ongoing, quick, easy, and specific.  Exit slips, whiteboards, or math journals are just a few simple ways to assess the progress of your students.  This data should be the driving force of your future instruction.
Here is an quick and easy way to use exit slips.  Make a form like this one, or use this one if you wish by clicking HERE!!   Clip art border provided by Dots of Fun and the font provided by KG Fonts. 

If my students are struggling with using the making 10 concept then I would create a problem for them that enables them to practice using that strategy.  I may need to tell them to use that strategy OR I can just give them the problem to see if they use that strategy. 

Have a great day!