Clothesline Math Again

We did it today! We did the clothesline math about linear measurement that I had made. We had some great conversations about how big things would actually be. 3 centimeters is still pretty darn tiny. We connected 12 inches to a foot and 3 feet to a yard. We read some measurements on rulers. It went well, especially for a Friday afternoon after recess!

Clothesline Math

I only discovered clothesline math this year and I absolutely love it. We’ve had some great conversations through this math routine. Right now we’re studying linear measurement and I couldn’t find a clothesline math for that. So I created one. My first one! I’m so proud of myself. (Its a little ridiculous.)

We’ll give it a try tomorrow. So if I don’t share one good thing then that’ll be a bad sign…

Flexibility with Numbers

One of my third graders is often too cool for school. Academically he fits somewhere right in the middle, but I think he’s whip smart. He just isn’t willing to show it too frequently. Today my kiddos had little white boards and were working some problems on them to review adding and subtracting three and four-digit numbers.

We’re trying different strategies for addition and subtraction as kids will find the strategy that works for them. We began moving along the number line and got to just under 100 away and this little friend had an epiphany. He realized we could add another hundred and then subtract the little bit that had gone too far. He was practically standing up in his excitement about this. It was awesome.

Class Conversation

This isn’t math related so I’m always hesitant to share here, but math is only about an hour and a quarter of my day so lots of good things happen in other times. I was unexpectedly out of my classroom for almost two months and have only been back a couple of weeks. It’s been tough for all of us but we’re getting back into routines and some great work.

Today I had planned to do a whole class conversation after reading a book. This means my third graders sit in a big circle (or rectangle as the case may be) and talk, no raised hands, no involvement from me (or as little as possible). We haven’t done a lot of these this year and we haven’t done one since I got back.

Then I talked with our literacy coach and we decided to record it to share with my team. Well, with the idea that we’d share it if it went well. I wasn’t sure how it would go for the first time after so long.

It was awesome. Lots of kids shared their thoughts. They responded to each other, proof that they were actually listening to each other. We went on for about 15 minutes and they were frustrated when I stopped them. I actually can’t wait to watch the video.

Numberless Word Problems

Getting third graders to read a word problem and think about what to do rather than to just assume they know (which usually means adding whatever numbers are there) is quite a challenge. So today we tried out some numberless ones (thanks to Brian Bushart) and it was a serious hit. My kids had white boards and set up problems before seeing any numbers. Then as numbers were revealed they put them in. Everyone was engaged. Tomorrow we’ll try some more and see if this level of excitement (and thinking) holds.

Who Knew a Test Could Be My One Good Thing?

My one good thing is a week old but it keeps hitting me again and again. Monday’s are tough for a number of my kiddos this year. Readjusting to school each week is hard. So I was worried about last Monday, the first day back after the five day Thanksgiving weekend. To add to the challenge, my third graders had to take a district wide assessment in math that morning. Their first online assessment of that scale. And they took it a day before the other seven third grade classes because I was leaving town for three days for a conference.

We got started with them all logging on to computers. That’s no small feat with 23 third graders who don’t use computers at school regularly. Once we had everyone logged on we navigated to the right site and learned that they couldn’t access the assessment. This was probably 15 minutes so far.

One of our assistant principals and I started trying to find tech support. The kids sat and waited. Then we learned that the few kids who were taking the assessment in another room could get to it. They used a different log in. We weren’t sure if that was the reason for their success or if it was because they had laptops from a different cart.

I had no idea what else to try though. So all my kiddos logged out and logged in a different way. Their computers then took quite a while to boot up again. From the start to actually getting in to the assessment was about an hour. So my third graders basically sat there for an hour. And then they took the assessment!

I was astounded by their patience and the amount of effort they put into the assessment. If they had given it a halfway attempt I wouldn’t have blamed them at all. But they didn’t. For whatever reason they gave it their best.

I have a lot of issues with standardized tests. And a lot of issues with how many tests young children have to take. In spite of that, I was seriously wowed by the dedication and work ethic these kids showed. I am so lucky to learn with them every day.

Willing to Struggle

Today was our last day of school before the Thanksgiving break. I’ve learned (in case I didn’t just know it) over the years that it’s tough to do much serious work the day before a holiday. So I thought it would be fun to try a new challenge. I worried it might be a bit challenging for my third graders but figured it was worth a try.

So we tried this. We worked through some similar problems (using triangles, stars, and flowers as I’m not a serious artist) to help students get some sense of how to work through this.

They were all in. There was some talk as they worked, which is a good sign, I think. And kids didn’t want to stop. (There was a back to the page that was more challenging.) And listening to them share how they figure things out was amazing. Seeing the light bulbs go on as they listened to their classmates was even more amazing.

For a day in which I started the morning saying, “I’m just not feeling today.” this was phenomenal.