Student Talk Leads to Deeper Thinking

I witnessed this cool thing the other day, the thing that I keep on blogging about because I keep on seeing it over and over. I was in a second grade classroom where students were adding two digit numbers.  The lesson was to add the ones first, then the tens by decomposing numbers. The well meaning adult in the room (me) kept on teaching it according to the lesson.  Students were making mistakes and errors like crazy.  Then, I gave them the freedom to try whatever way they pleased.

I was astounded by their thinking, they came up to share one by one with different strategies that made WAY more sense to each other than what I was preaching. It was pretty amazing to see what they were coming up with. Not only did their ways make sense, but they were also accurate. Another reminder that I need to SHUT UP!


This student made tens, and then added the ones and tens in the order that made sense to him.


So let them talk! The deep thinking and learning that will come from it will be amazing.

iHeart Math Blog Hop

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I have the pleasure of linking up with several wonderful math bloggers for a month long holiday hop. We are excited because each day you can read something from each blogger, their post will go live on the day that is on the calendar.


Giving Back

Sometimes giving back means helping those around you stay sane during hectic times. Sometimes all you need is a silly video to make you smile. Be sure to show this one to your students to give them a good laugh during this stressful holiday season. I guarantee you will crack up!


A Math Tip

One of our school district’s stresses right now is finding math interventions that will work to increase student success. I’ve been scouring the internet looking for something to help our most struggling students with problem solving. I love Intervention Central, so I was thrilled when I stumbled upon Guided Problem Solving. The approach is to teach a 7 step problem solving process.  In addition to that the interventionist makes the students say their thoughts, ask questions and check their thinking along the way.  The best part is that you could use this approach in several settings, 1 on 1, small group or even as a whole class. That leads me to my gift to you, because maybe you’d like to try it out:


A Free Gift

I created a cheat sheet (for the student) and a progress monitoring tool (for the teacher) for running this intervention. My plan is to teach it for four days, and then progress monitor on the 5th day.  Click on the image/table below to download it from Google Docs.

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You can get other tips from other great math bloggers by following along this blog hop. You are sure to find something you like. You can head over to Jen’s blog, Runde’s Room tomorrow!

A Few of My Favorite Things

I am not normally one to participate in many fluffy things, I like to keep my blog about teaching tips. When I heard about this I thought it was a great opportunity to do one of the things that I love the most, give.

Here are a few of my favorite things:

1.  My favorite restaurant is a farm to table Italian place that is local.  Food is the way to my heart, and they prepare everything with love and sauces! There is a chicken saltimbocca dish that is like tasting bites of heaven!

2.  My second favorite thing is something that my daughter and I do every holiday season. I wrap up books in wrapping paper and put a stack in her room. Before bed each night, she unwraps a book and we read it together. It is a cheap way to bond with my daughter as well as give the gift of reading.

3. My third favorite thing is to give. Since one of my other favorites is to eat, I am giving away this gift card (just enter below by clicking on the link: a rafflecopter giveaway!):

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Because we value our followers and wanted to treat you to our favorite things, we have put together the best giveaway of the season! My bloggy friends and I welcome you to the best, biggest, most cheerful event of the season:

7 winners for 7 prize packs!

Come and enter the giveaway and check out my bloggy friends’ favorite things:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Help! What’s My Error?

Every so often I have one of those moments where I want to stop the entire class to show everyone something a student did. Today was one of those moments when I watched how a student tackled a word problem. He had asked me for help and I was guiding him through it.  He was doing some mental math, realized that something didn’t seem right and checked his thinking. When he realized that he was 10 away from the target number, he very quickly realized that he could adjust his thinking and his answer. (You can see he changed 44 to 34.)


This is perseverance and precision!  This is what we are constantly hoping that kids will do without us having to remind them. The problem is we are running around asking students to do this on an 1-on-1 individual conference. Imagine how powerful it would be if students shared examples like these and learned from them, how much more time would be free up in our classrooms to really dig deep with kids!

Here are some simple ways to share:

1.  Stop the entire class and have the student show their error and how they fixed it.

2.  Build in share time at the end of your lesson for students to tell a story of how they found and fixed an error in their thinking.

3.  Here is my favorite idea…make a “What’s my Error?” chart!  This is a simple chart where students (while they are working on an assignment) could put up problems that they are stuck on.  We’ve all been there before where we keep on getting the same answer, but we know that something isn’t right.  Other students during a share time could help figure out the error and write their thinking on the chart.  So often adults turn to others for help when we need it (for technology, for many things), but often in math class we leave students to figure out these things alone.  A “What’s My Error?” chart could help students explain their thinking AND help them to be more interested in finding the error in their ways in the future.  Like all things, you have to manage it by making it a routine and having general expectations (imagine the students fighting over the markers, crowding around the chart), but isn’t that a good problem to have?


Let me know if you try it I’d love to hear how it goes!