Monday, June 24, 2013

Estimate Everyday!

What is estimation? Let's see what my dictionary widget says:

Estimation is a valuable part of your classroom routine daily life. I often say, "Estimate everyday!" I was pleased to see that Dan Meyer agrees in in his recent blog post where he offered making estimation a part of your daily routine as "one of the steps we can take to acclimate our students gradually to new ways of learning math."

Luckily we have the materials at our fingertips to make this happen fairly easily. All it takes is a photo! Check out Andrew Stadel's Estimation 180 project for some serious inspiration. Just a quick flip through some of the photos and you can see that there numerous connections to measurement, whole numbers, fractions, and the math list goes on and on! Class discussion about how students predict their estimates will reveal how students are thinking about number and the connections they are making among mathematical ideas. 

Sometimes our elementary students really need to count and touch concrete materials to prove their estimates. Just the other day I was inspired by Rayla Rucker through my twitter feed. Check out the process of estimating she took the students through:


Then, Rayla tweeted out what the students were saying:

If you are a parent, start estimating with your child today. Show a picture or give a jar of beans and ask, "How many?" Then, show your child you value the process by talking about reasonableness, strategy and well, math!

If you are a teacher, start collecting photos and collections of objects to estimate. Are you still in touch with your class via twitter, a blog, etc? Then, I challenge you to do a summer estimation station via social networking!

If you are a student, run an estimation contest with your family and friends during your break from the pool. Don't forget to put those estimates on a number line!

Let's stay curious this summer and have some fun sharpening our estimation skills!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Guest Blog: Preventing the Summer Slide

We are thrilled to have one last guest blog for the 2012-2013 school year from Rayla Rucker, a dedicated 4th grade teacher at Pleasant Hill Elementary and math teacher leader! Other topics she blogged about were Transforming Math Homework and Transforming Math Instruction. This time, Rayla gave some inspiring and insightful advice to her students and parents on how to "Prevent the Summer Slide." Thank you, Rayla, for offering fellow educators, parents and students a chance to read this advice on how to keep learning happening throughout the summer in all subject areas-not just math!

Preventing the Summer Slide
Summer slide happens to kids that spend the summer having fun, but forgetting completely about school.  As parents, we have the best intentions, but I know from experience that giving a couple of weeks off can lead to an entire summer of stagnancy that results in low beginning of the year performance.  These kids have worked too hard this year to leave learning alone for two months.  

So, what is Mrs. Rucker’s prescription?  Make learning fun and stress free.  Even better, make them feel like they did not do any learning at all while enriching their Summer experience.

Here is a list of suggestions and links to cool websites.  The only slide we want is on a playscape or at a water park!

Language Arts:
Read, Read, Read, Think, Create
Keep a journal throughout the summer.  Record your thoughts, dreams, adventures, favorite parts of books or movies.  Keep your brain active through writing.

Read, Read, Read
Guys, reading is fun!  It is it’s own adventure. Don’t stop.  You owe it to yourselves, your present families, and your future families.
Great Places to Find The Latest and Greatest Books:
Mr. Shu is a librarian and he blogs about awesome books! has great books at great prices!

Leander Public Library:  Find out about summer reading program and learn how to be a Library card carrying Texan!

Find the math in the world all around you!

Seriously, ask your parents to redecorate your room...We are redecorating Chloe’s this summer.  You’d better believe she’s going to be figuring out the square footage of our walls and calculating the amount and cost of the paint we will be buying.  That’s as real as it gets!  

Do Your Own Number Talks
Lead your parents through them.  Don’t let them lead you.  :)  Let them see that there is more than one way.  Remember, they were taught to remember ONE WAY...isn’t that crazy.  :)

Excellent resource to prevent math slippage. 

Problem Solve Every doesn’t have to be a written problem.  Help mom or dad figure out how much you need to spend on groceries, or how many ingredients you need when a recipe needs to be doubled.  Or how much weekly allowance do you need to save for that sweet new ipod 5?

Fractions and decimals aren’t going away.  Next year you have to know equivalent fractions without the pictures.  Practice. Practice. Practice.  When you eat pizza, cut the same size pizza into different sized slices and think about pizza as fractional parts!  

Wonder about life.  Wonder about nature.  Experience it.  Hike, bike, play, explore, but also think about why things are.  Research. Learn.  Have fun with life.

Social Studies:  

Start studying your states and capitols.  You have to memorize them in 5th grade.  Be curious about history and community.  

Love you all!  Have an excellent summer!