Monthly Archives: August 2017

Recap: Math as a Second Language Day #3 (August 2, 2017)

Andrew Baxter joined us today for our session.  Before he left he shared with us that there is a free book called Nix the Tricks that helps us get out of bad habits of short cuts that we might use in our classroom.  The book Be the Teacher you Wish You Had is also a book he recommended.  It is not free though!

Today we resolved the handshake problem after watching a video of a 3rd grade teacher doing a similar problem with 20 people.  We noted that she used zero in her series to make the number of pairs an integer which helped with the mathematics.  Then we had someone explain the answer to our problem with 100 people.

We spent some time going over the problems we created last night for homework and will continues with these later.

In the course of our math instruction we talked about the ladder method of prime factorization.  Here is a video of the method in case you want to look further into it.  Sometimes students lose their factors in a factor tree.

There was good discussion about comparing fractions that are close to one half.

We discussed the Iceberg article.  Sherri felt that this might be a good activity to students to engage in as they encounter a new concept.  We spent time creating Icebergs for topics in our grade level. We will have time tomorrow to engage with them during breaks and add comments with post its.

HW tonight – read Principles to Action 42-52:

In your notebook – Identify a procedure or skill that you consider essential for students at your grade level to learn.  List the conceptual understandings that support students’ learning or the procedure or skill.

Review the beliefs chart on page 11 and list the beliefs that are evident in Ms. Flahive’s and Ms. Ramirez’s classrooms – figure 21 on page 1.  What are the impacts of these beliefs?

Recap Math as a Second Language Day #2 (August 1, 2017)

We began with the burning questions and explained that more practice with fractions is to come and that the idea of raising the expectations for our classwork and homework will be addressed later today with a Ted Talk.

In working through Block #2 we had some good discussion about adding positive and negative numbers – when the commutative property works and how to use compensation when adding.  The adjective and noun theme also helped ensure that we were adding quantities with the same nouns or units.

There was some discussion about the level of homework and the ability of students to complete our homework successfully.  The idea that maybe the collaboration in the classroom is helpful in the completion of the work and that the grit and time to focus at home could be an issue.  We wanted to make sure though that we are preparing them sufficiently in the classroom.  We watched a Ted talk by Dan Meyer about rethinking the types of questions we ask and how too much scaffolding and building a pathway for our students can hinder their success in persevering in problems that the real world presents.  There was an acknowledgement that his method requires more time that is often available in our days.

We ended class with the unresolved problem called the handshake problem.  It will be resolved tomorrow – I promise.  Maybe sleeping on it will allow people more time to struggle productively with this problem.


Read the reference pages and record any questions.

Read Beneath the Tip of the Iceberg.

Write the problems explained on page 8 of Block 2.

And I found these interesting websites about improving our students’ ability and mastering of the number line – it is a concept that we continue to build on: