Friday, August 28, 2015

Letters Alive! Augmented Reality Awesomeness

I've been playing around with a really cool kit over the last few weeks and I want to share it with you!  I ran into CEO and "Chief Zoo Keeper" Cynthia Kaye in Vegas over the summer and she spent about 30 minutes introducing me to Alive Studios and their augmented reality awesomeness.  Honest first impression?  I told my husband "I've got flashcards and teach my kids letters everyday. What's the big deal?" Then she put the card (I think it was the elephant!) under the camera and it came to life.  Like 3D without the glasses kind of life.  Mind blown. 
She sent me the Letters Alive, Storybook Alive AND Math Alive kits to use in my classroom and I've been obsessed with them ever since!  My own child, my husband, my new kinders, my kindergarten team and all 3 of my administrators have been my guinea pigs as I work my way through all of the amazing technology.

I had my friend and co-worker video me this afternoon so I could show some of the cool tricks of the Letters Alive kit.  It's Friday afternoon and my voice is almost gone so no judgment.  :)

Seriously.  Can you see why I've been so excited about this?
  • It's a supplement to your reading curriculum
  • It's engaging
  • It involves multiple modalities to reach a variety of learners
  • It's Common Core aligned
There are many more videos of Letters Alive in action that you can view on the Alive Studios website {here}.  Make sure to explore their site for more information.

I can't wait to start using the letters and sight words in my small groups.  I have some ESL students that I know are REALLY going to benefit from this program this year.   I will document our progress! :)

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Math Linky Reasoning and Measurement {Weeks 6 and 7!}

Ok.  So school started back and I'm a little behind on my posts for our linky series on number sense!  I'm going to combine week 6 and 7!  Laura with Kinder Kraziness is hosting week 6 on Reasoning Strategies {here} and Marsha with Differentiated Kindergarten is hosting week 7 on Measurement {here}.  Make sure to visit them to read their wonderful ideas. You can link up your ideas on their pages as well.

Differentiated Kindergarten

Week 6: Reasoning Strategies

According to Marilyn Burns, you should always question students about their reasoning strategies.  You should do this when they are right AND when they are wrong.  This provides opportunities for deeper understanding and encourages alternate ways of looking at problems. 

    Questioning Students: Prove It! are all familiar with the teacher look.  I've had to really work hard on my facial expressions over the last few years.  When you call on a student to provide an answer and they give you something totally off the wall it is really hard not to react with your face.  However, you need to re-train yourself to not give it the answer right or wrong? Good question.  :)  I like to tell my students to PROVE IT.  They give me an answer, I act like I do not know if they are right or wrong, and then I have them prove it to the class.  I will tell you that most always my students who give wrong answers initially end up identifying their mistake during their explanation.  That's what we want.  When kiddos find their own mistakes and are able to correct them in the moment they are more likely to remember to apply their new learning in the future.  Click on the image or here to download you own copy of the "Prove It" sign.  I keep my on the wall in my carpet area as a reminder for students.

    Alternate Ways of Solving Problems

    One of the ways we practice reasoning strategies is by seeing how many different ways we can solve a problem.  For example, if my students were solving the number bond above I would have multiple students demonstrate different ways of solving it.  These could include:
    • base ten (one group of ten + 6 ones = 16)
    • 16 -10 =
    • 10 + 6 =
    This helps our students build number sense and become comfortable with the connection between addition and subtraction.

    Visible Thinking Routine: CSI

    Traditionally a CSI stands for color, symbol, image and I use it primarily with reading.  After reading a story, my students give me a color for the story (like black for Tacky the Penguin or green for Hide, Clyde!), a symbol that encompasses the story and an image that pops into their brain when they think about the story.  For The Greedy Triangle a student might give you: 

    • Color: green for greed
    • Symbol: a wand to represent the "poof" from shape to shape
    • Image: 2 friends holding hands to show the friendship and loyalty of the triangle's friends
    You could even modify the color part by changing it to number or shape to go along with your math lesson.


    Week 7: Measurement

    Measurement is a fun way to use concrete experiences that lead to further investigations.  It takes estimation (week 5) to the next level.
    I also love how it gives students opportunities for selecting tools and using appropriate units.  We usually start with unifix cubes, links, paper clips or anything thematic that we are studying.

    Visible Thinking Routine: Think, Puzzle, Explore

    A Think, Puzzle, Explore routine is similar to a traditional KWL chart.  One huge difference though...a KWL is more fact-driven and a TPE is more inquiry-driven. It allows for connections with prior knowledge and encourages inquiry and curiousity.  It also helps to see what direction your students are wanting to take the unit of study.  Here's a TPE my class did at the beginning of our measurement unit.  Forgive the was an in the moment chart and I was writing their input as fast as I could!

    Connections with Literature

    Here are a few book suggestions that encourage reasoning and measurement.

    I hope you were able to get some new ideas from this post.  Thanks for reading. :)
    Make sure to check back for our final week on math fluency!

    Sunday, August 2, 2015

    Estimation! {Math Linky Week 5}

    First Grade Blue SkiesEstimation is the topic for week 5 of our linky series all about number sense!  Jennifer with First Grade Blue Skies is hosting this week so stop by and read her ideas {here}.

    Here are a few ideas on how to use estimation in your classroom:

    Week 5: Estimation

    Estimation should be embedded into problem solving.  Discussing real-world problems, like which checkout line to get in at the grocery store, helps students understand the importance of estimation in everyday life.  It is something that is easily incorporated into morning meeting or math tasks.  There's nothing wrong with incorporating a little seasonal fun with your estimation too.  :)

      Visible Thinking Routine: Chalk Talk

      Place butcher paper or something similar in different areas of the room.  Allow students to walk from paper to paper with a marker and add their ideas, observations, thoughts and questions to the paper.  You could brainstorm items that might weigh the same as an elephant, a feather, etc.

      Visible Thinking Routine: Tug of War

      Have your students participate in a tug of war debate such as Do we estimate the total to be closer to 100 or 1000?  Students can divide up into sides of the classroom depending on what they estimate to be true.  Let your kiddos argue and defend their position while they try and convince their classmates to come to their side of the classroom.

      Estimation Online Game
      PBS Kids- Curious George

      Guesstimate Game

      Divide your class into groups of 3.  Have 2 of the students place a sticky note on their back or forehead with a number on it.  Have the 3rd student tell the sum of the 2 numbers and see if the students can guess their hidden number (practice for missing addends too!).

      You could also do this with one student who has a number on his/her back.  Have the class give clues using "Math Talk" and allow the student to ask questions to help figure out the secret number.

      Sid the Science Kid "My Best Guess" Song

      Count Around the Circle

      Decide on how you will count around the circle (i.e., skip counting by 5's) and let students estimate what number the last person will say.

      Connections with Literature

      Here are a few book suggestions that encourage math discussion of strategies.

      Make sure to check back for week 6 on reasoning strategies! :)

      Monday, July 27, 2015

      Math Strategies (Linky Week 4}

      Swamp Frogs It's time for week 4 of our linky series all about number sense!  Heidi with Mrs. Samuelson's Swamp Frogs is hosting this week so stop by and read her ideas {here}.

      Week 4: Discuss Strategies

      It's important to have class discussions about the strategies used for solving problems.  Students need to know that it is ok to solve a problem in more than one way and feel confident in using multiple strategies for solving. 

      One of the first examples that pops into my head is working a word problem.  The word problem may clearly call for a subtraction number sentence.  However...I love it when my kids figure out they can also solve backwards with addition.  Or use part-part-whole and number bonds! When we come across word problems during our morning messages, I love to let my kids come up to the white board and illustrate different ways of solving the problem.  It is really beneficial for my students to verbalize their thinking as they explain it to others.  It is helpful for those in the audience too who may or may not have thought to solve that way!
      • Students need to be able to explain their thinking
      • Explaining their reasoning gives insight into what's going on inside their little brains!
      • This helps children cement their ideas and re-evaluate them if needed
      • Math talk questioning stems can help facilitate math language between learners until it becomes more natural in their partner discussions

      Visible Thinking Strategy: What Makes You Say That?

      Pretty self-explanatory! :)  It's amazing the answers your children will give you when you ask them this question.  Sometimes it's pretty eye-opening!  I make it a point to ask this question multiple times a day (even if I think I already know the answer!).

      Mathematical Practice Standards
      A few years ago I created a kid-friendly version of the Mathematical Practice Standards to use in my classroom.  Each card is related to a community helper to help make it easier for my students to identify with.  These are posted in a pocket chart in my room and we refer to them often (this really helps build our math language!).  You can grab them in my store for FREE by clicking on the pic or {here}.

      Higher Order Thinking Math Tasks

      Have you seen Susan Moran's (T.G.I.F.! Thank God It's First Grade) Higher Order Thinking Math Tasks??? I LOVE these!  They are listed for 1st and 2nd but they make for great whole group discussion or small group tasks with my kinders.  Check out her blog post {here} for more info and tell her Mrs. Lirette sent you! ;)

      Connections with Literature

      Here are a few book suggestions that encourage math discussion of strategies.

      Make sure to check back for week 5 on estimation! :)

      Sunday, July 26, 2015

      Back to School with Pete the Cat {Stations & 2 FREEBIES}

      We go back to school in 2 weeks (kids in 3)- yikes! The last few years my kindergarten team has started the school year with Pete the Cat.  He's adorable...he's groovy...he loves school!  During our first day we take our Groovy Cat School Tour to help us learn the layout of the school.  When we return to the room we find a treat that Pete has left us- Meow Mix (colored goldfish).  It's a lot of fun and even at the end of the year I always have one or two kids that are still on the hunt for Pete.  :)  Click {here} to grab the tour cards for FREE.
      This year I'm planning on going full-blown Pete with my stations!  I've created 20 different activities that are perfect for the beginning of the year!  Check out the pictures and make sure to download the FREE ELA one at the end!

      You can purchase the 10 ELA Stations, 10 Math Stations or save $4 with the BUNDLE of 20 stations!  All 3 packs are on sale for 20% off through Wednesday, July 29th!

      Grab your FREE station activity {here}.  :)

      What fun ways do you incorporate Groovy Pete?

      Saturday, July 18, 2015

      Mental Math {Linky Week 3 with a FREEBIE}

      It's time for week 3 of our linky series all about number sense!  Laura with Kinder Kraziness is hosting this week so be sure and read her wonderful ideas {here}.

      Week 3: Mental Math

      This is a fun one!  Mental math allows our kiddos to focus on number relationships.  Working mentally requires them to rely on what they already know and understand.  Fact fluency automatically pops into my brain when I think about mental math but there is so much more we can do to build a solid foundation with number sense.  Here are a few examples/resources that I hope you can use in your classroom:

      "Onesies" Dice Game

      I was introduced to this game by my sweet friend Carol Stafford.  Onesies is a popular game in her classroom and is done all year.  She even has admin and other faculty, as well as older students, who stop by to challenge her kinders to a quick game every now and again.  Awesome! I plan on making Onesies a BIG deal in my room this year...just like Carol does. To play the game each player needs 6 dice.  When the race starts, each player begins rolling the dice as fast as they can while looking for ones.  When ones are rolled, they are stacked on top of one another to make a tower (of dice showing one).  So they will roll the dice, pull out the dice that show one and stack them on top of the tower, and then roll the remaining dice again to look for more ones.  This continues until a tower of 6 ones has been made.  Then the tower is broken down and the player starts again, trying to build a tower of twos.  This repeats for threes, fours, fives and sixes.  The player who finishes making their complete tower of six first is the winner.  This can be done as a whole group competition, small group or partner race.  It's fast-paced and fun...and helps students become quick at recognizing those numbers!  For an even quicker version, you can ask students to race while completing a tower that shows one, two, three, four, five, six stacked on top of each other.  Store sets of 6 dice in a cheap container so they will be ready for play whenever.
      *I know this description is a bit confusing.  I will add a video tutorial soon!*

      Subitizing Spoons

      Perceptual subitizing (recognizing a number without any math process) is a great way to build number sense and cardinality.  Just like Onesies, Subitizing Spoons helps strengthen students' ability to subitize quickly.  You can read all about this cheap and easy game in an earlier post I wrote {here} or by clicking on the spoons picture.
      There are many cheap ways to make subitizing flashcards or "quick images" for practice.  Here is an inexpensive plate idea I found on Pinterest from Frogs and Cupcakes.  She has a cute video tutorial and subitizing arrangement cheat sheet picture on her blog too!

      Piggy Poof: Subitizing to 5

      I love to play Poof games in my classroom.  They are great for small group fun or intervention/enrichment time.  Here's a new one that is perfect for the beginning of the year when we are working specifically with numbers to 5.  It shows the numbers in different ways and is simple enough for young learners to catch on quickly and become confident in their number recognition.  You can download it for FREE {here} or by clicking the picture.

      Count Around the Circle

      Here's another great number sense activity from Jessica Shumway's Number Sense Routines.  You make your way around the circle by counting different ways.  For example, I may say let's count around the circle by 5's starting with 25.  You could practice skip counting, +1 or -1, counting backwards, etc.  This is great for giving your little ones practice with beginning their counting with numbers other than 1 (Common Core...counting from any given number!).

      Roll and Cover Games

      These differentiated games are wonderful for number recognition/subitizing, finding the sum of 2 numbers and finding the sum of 3 numbers.  I have 13 FREE Roll and Cover games that you can download {here}.  I most always have one of these games in a math tub, morning work drawer, or math station.  :)

      Connections with Literature

      Here are a few book suggestions that incorporate mental math.

      Over the next 2 months I'm working with a few other teachers to focus on these guiding principles of number sense.  Our hope is to share tips, strategies and examples that help impact student learning and push number sense to the next level!  Make sure to check back for week 4 on math strategies! :)

      Tuesday, July 14, 2015

      Vegas & Periscope!!

      So Vegas was amazing and I learned so much!  Have you heard of Periscope?  I knew nothing about it until it started being mentioned in almost every session I attended during the conference.  Wow!  I've joined in and plan to do my first live broadcast at some point tomorrow.
      You can find me @MrsLirette

      I haven't quite figured out the whole colored heart thing but I'm working on it...

      Here are few pics from Vegas.  :)  Did I mention my hubby went with me?? <3

      A photo posted by Mary Lirette (@marylirette) on

      A photo posted by Mary Lirette (@marylirette) on

      A photo posted by Mary Lirette (@marylirette) on

      A photo posted by Mary Lirette (@marylirette) on

      Sunday, July 12, 2015

      Making Sense of Math {Linky Week 2}: Computing Methods

      Swamp Frogs
      I'm back for week 2 of our linky series all about number sense!  Heidi with Mrs. Samuelson's Swamp Frogs is hosting this week so be sure and make sure you check out her wonderful ideas {here}.

      Week 2: Modeling Different Computing Methods

      This is one of my favorite guiding principles of number sense, as outlined by Marilyn Burn (founder of Math Solutions).  As many of us already know, there are so many ways to solve a problem.  Very often when I ask a child to explain their thinking behind their answer I am hit with an "aha" moment because I had not thought of it in that way.  It's amazing how empowered children feel when they are able to teach the teacher something.  ;)  I think it is very important to encourage students to find solutions using different methods and to celebrate them along the way.
      • focus on what methods make sense for different situations
      • there is no one right way to compute
      • we needs our students to be flexible thinkers 
      Here are a few examples/resources that I hope you can use in your classroom:

      The Queen of Ten with her "Ten Wand"

      Have you heard of this?  It's pure genius in my book!  It comes from Jessica Shumway's Number Sense Routines.  Here's the gist: Every 10 days the students get a visit from the Queen of Ten.  She has a wand, made out of 10 unifix cubes.  The queen is fairly clumsy and always manages to slam her wand against a desk or something.  As you would breaks.  But alas!  It never breaks in the same way! So.....bam.  Decomposing 10 at it's best, right?  You can take this a step further by having the students partner up and pretend being the queen or king.  They can record their ways to make 10.  Groups will come up with different ways of making 10 so this makes for a great discussion.

      Counting Collections

      This video changed my life the first time I saw it.  For real.  I know it is something most all of us do in our classrooms already but I LOVE the way this teacher models, encourages flexible thinking, questions her students, etc.  She specifically tells her kiddos that they are making collections of 10 and then she sees a kid counting by 2's.  Instead of getting onto him for skip counting by 2's she asks him to explain his thinking.  He does and his way of computing makes perfect sense.  Then she praises the child and asks him to explain his ideas to the other children.  Love it.

      Visible Thinking Routine: Chalk Talk

      Chalk Talk is a great thinking routine to help encourage different methods of computing.  If you are unfamiliar with thinking routines I suggest getting this book: Making Thinking Visible by Ron Ritchart.  Chalk Talk consists of laying out a few pieces of chart paper around the room and giving your students markers to circulate with.  Your kids use their marker to add their thoughts onto the chart paper. They can add a new thought, idea or picture, or they can add onto someone else's thought.  For example, if you have a chart paper with the number 10 in the middle students might write the number ten, draw 10 pictures, draw a dime, write an equation, use tally marks, etc.  This is traditional a quiet routine where students communicate with their writing utensil rather than their voices but I usually let my kinders talk quietly.  It's up to you!  Just make sure you allow enough time for everyone to circulate to all of the chart papers.

      Connections with Literature

      Here are a few book suggestions that capitalize on the idea of computing in different ways.

      Over the next 2 months I'm working with a few other teachers to focus on these guiding principles of number sense.  Our hope is to share tips, strategies and examples that help impact student learning and push number sense to the next level!  Make sure to check back for week 3 on mental math! :)

      Wednesday, July 1, 2015

      Making Sense of Math: Real-World Experiences {Linky Week 1}

      I am so excited to be working with some sweet friends on a linky series all about number sense!  Over the next 2 months we will focus on guiding principles outlined by math guru (and founder of Math Solutions), Marilyn Burns.  Our hope is to share tips, strategies and examples that help impact student learning and push number sense to the next level!

      Why is Number Sense Important?

      • encourages students to think flexibly
      • instills confidence with numbers
      • builds a foundation for more complex math
      • helps students to understand numbers and their relationship to one another

      Week 1: Linking Math to Real-World Experiences

      This is something we do many times without even realizing it, whether it be with the hook of our lesson or examples that relate to our students' lives!  It is so important to relate math with the real world because it helps students to make connections and see the reasoning behind the skill.  Let me be honest.  I strongly disliked math as a kid.  I didn't understand the purpose in a lot of it and wasn't very confident in it.  (Thank goodness I teach K and not 8th, right?) I'm sure I am not alone.  Because of that I have made it a personal mission to never end a math lesson with my kids still wondering, "But why are we doing this??"  I want them to see the reasoning behind the skill and a great way to do that is by relating it directly to my learners and their world. 
      Environmental Print: 2D and 3D Shapes in the environmentOne of my most popular math units each year involves images of real-world objects found in the environment.  I have a whole slew of photographs I took that I use throughout the unit.
      Environmental Print: 2D and 3D Shapes in the environment

      The pack includes: 79 photo cards, 8 shape scene cards, 3-In-a-Row game (8 game mats), 26 sorting cards, 2 Spin and Graph games, "I Can" and "Math Talk" task cards

      Make sure and download the FREE PREVIEW FILE to grab your "sample" activity {here} or click on the Google doc {here}.
      Environmental Print: 2D and 3D Shapes in the environment

      Want to add a Visible Thinking Routine to add rigor?  
      I suggest asking your students to complete a "See, Think, Wonder" by studying a shape scene card and discussing what they see, think and wonder about the picture.  The thinking routine will get your students digging deeper to focus on detail and is a great routine for introducing and/or exploring ideas.

      Relating math to the real world can be as simple as discussing slicing a pizza during a fractions lesson, identifying shapes with food or relating doubles facts to concrete examples that students are familiar with.  Check out these ideas I pinned on my All About Math Pinterest board. (Click each picture for the link to head to the original source- love these free printables!)

      I went to Eureka Math Curriculum training this week and one of the presenters shared a simple- yet effective- fluency activity.   The idea is to have your students close their eyes and count in their heads as the teacher drops coins into a can.  When using pennies, students would practice counting by 1's and would give you the total amount of money in the can at the end.  You could extend this to work on composing/decomposing by asking the students questions such as, "If you know I have 6 pennies in the can and I remove 2, how many are left in the can?"
      This could be used to practice skip counting as well by using other coins.  Use nickels for 5's and dimes for skip counting by 10's.  You could take it a step further by practicing +10 and -10.
      That is real world, right?  What kid can't relate to wanting money? :)

      Lastly, we know that integrating literature into our math lessons is a must.  There are so many wonderful books that cater specifically to our standards!  Here are some of my favorites that work well for relating math to inside and outside the classroom.

      I found this book on clearance at my local bookstore last week.  I was drawn in immediately by the real-world items!  Take a look at a few of the pages inside this book.  I'm thinking it would be perfect for taking a "shape walk."  What do you think?

      I hope that some of these ideas helped to get you thinking on how you incorporate real-world experiences in your own classroom to strengthen number sense.  I would LOVE for you to link-up your own ideas and experiences on this week's topic!  Join in on the linky below.

      Next week Mrs. Samuelson's Swamp Frogs will be hosting Week 2 of our Making Sense of Math series so don't forget to get those blog posts ready and join in on the fun!