Wednesday, June 12, 2013

June Happenings

A lot has happened since my last post at then beginning of June.

Summer School
I taught a week of summer school for second graders going into third grade that focused solely on math, specifically mental math and math strategies. Which is hard for me since upon teaching summer school, I realized I don't have many mental math strategies. I always do the standard algorithm in my head and I just assumed that everyone did that. 
Hardly anyone does that. 
News to me.

Everyone has these super clever strategies that involve rounding, compensating, estimating, etc. 

I still like the standard algorithm though and will probably continue with it because I tried to use other strategies. Really tried. But I always got stuck somewhere in my head when using a clever strategy. 

But anyways, it was hard for me to teach mental math because I don't really do it the way we're supposed to be teaching kids. But we started off doing a mental math problem every day to get the kids' brains working. They would solve the problem in their head and then talk about how they solved it/the strategies they used with a friend. 
These two girls are discussing the strategies they used to solve the problem. Which sounds tricky. But the kids actually did a great job explaining what they did in their heads to get the answer. Obviously, first graders would need a lot more scaffolding to be able to successfully share. Because my kids' favorite strategy was "I did it in my head."

Then we would make a list with the strategies they used, starting with the most basic and going to the most sophisticated. The kiddos would then record their thinking in their math journals.

Next was a minilesson where we taught the kiddos some more strategies they could use besides counting on, which was by far the most popular (but least sophisticated) strategy. We taught them about making tens, doubles, and tens frames. The students would have time to practice the new strategies with the teacher, with partners, and independently.
Here we are working with part-part-whole mats and manipulating the cubes to make groups of tens.

We also made posters that we hung up around the room for the kids to look back to whenever they needed.

Last, we ended the day with centers that reinforced these skills. The kids loved centers since they were playing games and having fun.

All of that happened in the mornings. In the afternoons, the teachers had PD about how to teach math so it was more meaningful for students. We then took our new learnings and planned for the following day. I learned a lot from teaching summer school and I am super excited to take a lot so much of it back to first grade. Things that I definitely am going to incorporate are math journals, mental math time, and a math strategies/vocab wall. 

Phoenix --> Milwaukee
I also returned to Milwaukee on a red eye flight. Which was, of course, delayed. It wouldn't have been too bad except with the time change, I didn't arrive until 1:30 or something? Thankfully, I have wonderful parents who came to get me even though it was super late at night. Plus I feel bad about leaving Evan and Marlee. But with less than a month to go before wedding day, someone has to get this planning going. 

Thankfully, Pinterest and Etsy have been amazing resources. What would I do without them? Here are some of my ideas/inspiration.
From Pinterest: Here

From Pinterest: Here

Etsy: Here

Ampersand: TJ Maxx

From Pinterest: Here

Busy days for sure! 


  1. When I started teaching mental math strategies, I realized I used some that I didn't even know I was using. I think I thought I made up my own shortcut without realizing it was already a thing. There are some, though, that the kids get better at than me because they're just not natural for me, so I always emphasize different ways of finding the answer :)

    Enjoy your wedding planning!!! I kind of hated the planning part, but the actual day was amazing. I think I still have my "day of" schedule somewhere if that's something you haven't put together yet...

    Luckeyfrog's Lilypad

    1. Yeah, mental math is super tricky for me. I just don't think to make tens or groups hundreds or whatever smart strategies they use...unless I'm adding numbers under 30. Then I will do clever ideas.

      And planning is wearing me out. I don't have a "day of" schedule yet! Would you mind sending it to me

  2. Have you looked at the book, "Number Talks"? Great resource for all kinds of mental math strategies and practice problems!

    Mrs. Laffin's Laughings

    1. I'll definitely have to check that book out! Thanks!

  3. I was never very good at math when I was younger, so it's a real passion for me to get the students to enjoy math (and know their math facts). I don't think my mental math strategies are very good either. Sometimes the kids come up with a better way than I do!

    I seriously don't know what I would have done if I got married when Pinterest was many ideas! I had a hard time finding pictures of things I wanted or imagined - and this was only 5 years ago!

    1. I was good at math until middle school and then I struggled with it ever since. It's funny though because I never thought my mental math strategies were bad until now! I felt like I should have been a student instead of a teacher! Ha!

  4. Enjoy your wedding planning time! Cute blog. :)
    Creating Lifelong Learners

    1. Thanks for stopping by! Wedding planning is wearing me out!

  5. Wow!! Love all the Pinterest ideas :) So cute!

    1. What did we do before Pinterest?!

  6. Sounds like you've had a busy summer already. Good luck with the wedding plans!! I'm also an Arizona blogger and your newest follower.

    1. I'm definitely over the wedding planning! It's so much work and so detail-y!

  7. Hi Liz! I love those Pinterest ideas!I just found your blog, I’m your newest follower!
    Science for Kids Blog

    1. I am slightly addicted to Pinterest! Thanks for stopping by!