Designing a Math Focus Wall for Your Classroom: The Planning Stage

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Part 1: 12 Essential Components of a Math Focus Wall

In Part 1 of this series, I explained how I wanted to create a math focus wall for my classroom.  I came up with 12 items that I think are necessary components of a math focus wall.  Since I teach intermediate students, the math focus wall I am designing would look different than many of the primary math focus walls I have seen.

To set the scene, I have five bulletin boards at the back of my classroom.  The SMART Board covers the bottom half of the middle bulletin board.  I decided to spread out my math focus wall over the three centre bulletin boards.  Since I want to incorporate several items into my math focus wall, I really needed the space to do it justice.

So after quite a bit of copying, cropping, and pasting, here’s my plan:

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I’ve managed to include all the 12 items I had mentioned previously. These are the items that are ready to go:

  • my SMART Board is at the centre and is ready to be incorporated into my math lessons
  • on the left hand side, I have my math talk sentence starters…there are 52 sentence starters and I will be changing them on a regular basis.  They will be used to help guide students during their math discussions (I will post a link to this new product of ours soon!)
  • at the top left hand corner, the four posters help student decipher math word problems and determine which operation to use (I will post a link to this new product of ours soon!)
  • on the right hand side, our GRASS posters help students to break down word problems.  The white boxes along the poster set will show student solutions to problems we are working on…these will be changed on a regular basis as well
  • along the top of the board you’ll find our posters “What does a good mathematician do?” to help students become mathematical thinkers and apply various skills when solving problems

The items shown in white on my plan will be co-created with or created by students:

  • learning goals and success criteria will be co-created with students for each new lesson
  • the white tiles next to the GRASS posters will contain student problem solving steps

I still need to work on the following items (the items shown in blue on my plan):

  • make a sign for my math talk prompts
  • find examples of math in everyday life
  • find funny math comics
  • an eye catching border and title
  • work on key terms for each section (term: definition, diagram, examples)
  • math reflection questions for their math journals
  • challenge question of the week (University of Waterloo’s Problem of the Week and Math Circles are great resources for this)
  • and math strategy posters (e.g. work backwards, draw a picture, solve a simpler problem)

Any other suggestions? Any areas for improvement?

Tune in for more updates on my math focus wall!

The Tuesday 12: 12 Essential Resources for Math Teachers to Read

Welcome to another addition of The Tuesday 12! Since Lisa, Elita, and I will be working on a TLLP math project this year, we will be using our blog to review useful resources, the progression of our project, challenges to overcome, and successes we achieve.

The following list of resources is on my summer reading list (haha…it seems to be quite an endeavour, but I hope to check off as many as possible).  If you’ve read any of these resources or if there are others you can recommend, please leave your comments below!

1. Good Questions: Great Ways to Differentiate Mathematics Instruction (K – 8) by Marian Small

2. Turn and Talk: One Powerful Practice, So Many Uses (2011) by Lucy West and Antonia Cameron

3. Communication in the Mathematics Classroom (September 2010) by the Ontario Ministry of Education-Capacity Building Series

4. Writing in Math Class: A Resource for Grades 2-8 (1995) Marilyn Burns

Writing in Math Class: A Resource for Grades 2–8

5. Big Ideas and Understandings as the Foundation for Elementary and Middle School Mathematics (NCTM Journal, Spring-Summer 2005) by Charles Randall

6. Teaching Student-Centred Mathematics (2013) by John A. Van de Walle, Jennifer M. Bay-Williams, LouAnn H. Lovin, and Karen S. Karp.

7. What Great Teachers Do Differently: 17 Things That Matter Most (2011) by Todd Whitaker

8. Math Sense: The Look, Sound, and Feel of Effective Instruction (2012) by Christine Moynihan

9. Small Steps, Big Changes: Eight Essential Practices for Transforming Schools Through Mathematics (2012) by Chris Confer and Marco Ramirez

10. What’s Your Math Problem? Getting to the Heart of Teaching Problem Solving (2011) by Linda Gojak and Laney Sammons

11. Supporting Numeracy (Special Edition #28) by the Ontario Ministry of Education—Capacity Building Series

12. Asking Effective Questions (Special Edition #21) by the Ontario Ministry of Education—Capacity Building Series

 

 

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links

Exciting News! We’re working on a TLLP Project!

We apologize if things have been quiet around here for the last week or so, but we were busy preparing for the “Leadership Skills for Classroom Teachers—TLLP Training Session” last week! It was a phenomenal event!

To give you some background information, the TLLP stands for Teacher Learning and Leadership Program, which is “an annual project-based professional learning opportunity for experienced classroom teachers”  here in Ontario.

According to the Ontario Ministry of Education, the TLLP “funds proposals from classroom teachers who seek a peer leadership role in curriculum, instructional practice or supporting other teachers. The three goals of the program are to create and support opportunities for teacher professional learning, foster teacher leadership and facilitate the sharing of exemplary practices with others for the broader benefit of Ontario’s students” (source).

Way back in November 2012, we applied for funding through the TLLP.  At first, we were not 100% sure about the direction our proposed project would take, but after a lot of research, discussion, and reflection, we decided on math learning journals, specifically focusing on student problem solving, communication, connections, and reflections (we will discuss more about our project very soon!).  In December, we received wonderful news from our school board that our project was selected and submitted for TLLP consideration.  We were ecstatic and couldn’t wait to find our if our project had been approved! But wait we did, until February 2013 when our project was approved by the TLLP committee!

Fast forward to May 15-17, 2013 when we attended the “Leadership Skills for Classroom Teachers—TLLP Training Session” in downtown Toronto.  It was a busy and intensive 2.5 day training session.  We had to juggle quite a few work and home commitments to ensure that all three of us could be there, but it was well worth it!  From the Ontario Teachers’ Federation, Mike Budd, Peter Lipman, and Rosemary Clark did an excellent job leading the event. Presenters from the Ministry of Education included Paul Anthony, Hanca Chang, and Nick Zacharopoulos, as well as presenters Claudine Laporte (AEFO), Malisa Mezenberg (OECTA), Susan Perry (OECTA), Brenda Sherry, and Peter Skillen.  All the presenters and facilitators were so friendly, approachable, and informative! The Keynote Speakers were Dr. Ann Lieberman, from Stanford University, and Dr. Carol Campbell, from OISE/UT.  Two excellent speakers who were entertaining, motivating, and knowledgeable!

Throughout the 2.5 day training session, we heard about scheduling, project management and budgeting…things I am not crazy about! Yes, I am known for my lists upon lists, but luckily I have two awesome partners—Elita who is great with budgets and Lisa who is super organized!

I really enjoyed the portion “Learning From Experience: What I Know Now that I Wish I Knew Then”. In this section, there were six presentations from last year’s TLLP cohort.  We each attended three of the six presentations and we were able to hear about their projects, difficulties they encountered, successes they celebrated, and lessons they learned along the way.  This was very informative and hearing first-hand accounts from people that were past (and also current) participants was fascinating.

On the last day, we were able to meet with other participants who matched our theme (math) and we had some excellent discussions! We can’t wait to collaborate with these excellent teacher leaders throughout the year!

One thing that we did mention over and over again throughout the 2.5 day session was how motivating and inspiring it was to be in a room packed full of teachers who are looking for new and innovative ways to develop and strengthen their own professional learning and that of their students!

If you are (or were) part of the TLLP community, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

We’ll be sharing our learning journey on this blog throughout the year. Check back often for updates and more information about our project and its implementation! We’ll be adding a TLLP button at the top of our page for easy access to these posts!

Let the journey begin!

Engaging Students in Mathematics: Free Resources from CSC

Curriculum Services Canada (CSC) “has a passion for, and commitment to, life-long learning. We recognize that people and organizations have unique learning needs and we believe that personal and professional growth is optimal when learning is context-specific, relevant, and highly engaging” (source).  CSC provides excellent, FREE resources for teachers on a variety of subject areas, professional development resources, and webcasts.

We are always on the lookout for resources to help us improve our teaching of mathematics and strategies to help our students become more engaged and enthusiastic about math.  CSC has an EXCELLENT array of resources for teaching math that would be beneficial to your teaching

The section on ENGAGING STUDENTS IN MATHEMATICS includes:

– videos on sample lessons (lesson planning, the actual lesson, student learning, and teacher debrief)

– print resources on asking effective questions, communication in the mathematics classroom, and Bansho (board writing)

– graphic organizers for teachers to use while viewing/reading the material and then planning their own engaging math lessons

This is just a small sample of some resources available on curriculum.org!

 

The Fundamentals of Media Literacy

Loriana previously posted about Concept Maps and their benefits for students.   But she also posted about how concept maps can inform our teaching.

In planning lessons for my students on a specific unit, I did just that! I created a concept map to help me visualize what the Language strand of Media Literacy entails.  At first I found it very overwhelming to address all the aspects of this strand.  My concept map has helped me streamline my thoughts and help me organize how I want to deliver the program.  Today, I am providing you my concept map.  In my next couple of posts, I will provide examples of classroom activities to address these key concepts for each heading.

MediaLiteracyKeyConcepts

Take this concept map, and utilize it for an introduction, or a summary of what Media Literacy is.  Use it for yourself or print it for your students.  You can use it as a poster as well!

Stay tuned for ideas on how you can address these key concepts in your media literacy lessons.