Student Learning Objective (cont.): 3-5 Resources

My Student Learning Objective or School/System Improvement Objective (SSIO) this year was to add on to the K-2 bank of resources I created last year.

Everything in that previous post still stands.  I am still worried about all those things however I still want to share these resources so that whoever might have a use for them does.

Feel free to leave comments about mistakes or updates that should be made to them.  I hope to continuously update these as I continue to use them while working with teachers.

My main use recently for them is for finding workstation activities focused around a certain cluster.  That way the work station game can be used over for a longer period of time and address multiple standards throughout the year.



Measurement and Data

Number and Operations – Base Ten

Number and Operations – Fractions

Operations and Algebraic Thinking

Student Learning Objective (cont.): 3-5 Resources

A Useful Reference for ALL!

I finished reading Christopher Danielson’s (@Trianglemancsd) Common Core Math for Parents for Dummies book just yesterday.  It took me a while to get through it, which I think was partly because it wasn’t the most intriguing read for me.  Now that doesn’t mean I think this book is horrible!  Instead I think the EXACT OPPOSITE!  This book is a GREAT resource for anyone with kids or teachers grades K-12.  Now, I am a certified 7-12 mathematics teacher but that doesn’t mean I know the ins and outs of all things math or even the Common Core State Standards-Math (CCSSM).  That is why I recommend this to all K-12 teachers (that teach mathematics) and especially parents!

Yup there are A LOT of tabs on that book! 11 to be exact.

This post is a quick write up of how I would (or plan to) use this resource in my current position.  I wrote this post while enduring a bad day at the beach.  A bad day at the beach for us who live here in Hawaii looks like this:

Hamoa Beach, Hana, Maui

As for parents, you should read this resource to help you get a better idea of the how and why of what your child is learning in their math classes from grades K-12 and how you can help support a positive journey through learning mathematics.

As a resource teacher when I’ve worked with grade 3-5 teachers I’ve had teachers ask to have “training” to learn where their teaching of math gets applied beyond their 3-5 grade band.  After reading this book, I can see using this resource to provide a 1 day training, maybe even an ongoing book PLC where grade level teachers (K-8, maybe 9-12 too) could brush up on their grade level content standards.  In addition, teachers would engage in a conversation about how to approach teaching their grade level standards knowing where a standard comes from and goes to, previous grade level and post grade level.  This discussion is rooted in the Coherence shift of the CCSSM.

Other conversations that could be fostered, would be around the Standards for Mathematical Practice, domains of the CCSSM and/or specific topics that span CCSSM: linear equations , functions, arrays, etc.  This structure would work well for a course that would help teachers engage in the understanding of their content standards and span across a few sessions.  This would help teachers expand their knowledge of math beyond their grade level and feel more comfortable teaching at their grade level knowing where their students’ learning is coming from and going to.

Conversations and learning can most definitely be had around strategies of teaching concepts or even math strategies used.  These two could also be combined together and you could add in a bit of strategies in order to foster student discourse around these math strategies.  For example, on page 84 in the book


I jotted a note in relation to a model and how might a teacher use it to teach a related topic.


Allowing teachers to make connections between concepts within their grade level (horizontally) and between grade levels (vertically) addresses the Coherence shift again here.

When I started writing this post I had 2 ideas I wanted to share, however as I am writing it up more and more ideas are popping into my brain making connections to the two main ideas I started with.  I hope to mull these over more and since I said this post would be quick, I’ll leave it as is.  I hope I can make any of these ideas come to life sooner rather than later.  In the meantime, feel free to leave comments, feedback or updates on how you’ve used this resource.  In addition, feel free to contact me to have a more in depth conversation of how to use this resource

Lastly, MAHALO Christopher Danielson for providing us with a great resource to help support positive math teaching to students.

A Useful Reference for ALL!

A Course Idea, Feedback Wanted!

So I am at it again!

I want to teach another course.  A different one from my last one (although I will be offering that same course again next year).  I want to offer this new course for professional development credit, so that teachers will be able to get something back from their hard work. And I also want to pack the course with serious learning and requirements!!!!

I’ve been working with Kristin Gray on some of and here is what we have come up with so far (it is not complete yet):

I’d really love feedback on the course.  If you want to leave comments directly in the doc. Email me your google accounts and I’ll add you on as commenter.  If not go ahead and leave your comments below.  Any feedback is greatly appreciated!

A Course Idea, Feedback Wanted!

#coreadvocates Conference

To be honest I have so many different feelings after this conference:

  • Empowered
  • Rejuvenated
  • Supported
  • Honored
  • Humbled
  • Validated
  • Speechless

That I’m not sure this post will come out as coherent as I’d like it to but I’m going to share it anyways.

Imagine being surrounded by educators who have the same drive as you: to be the best you can be AND MORE! Add in rigorous who honor you as a professional, treat you as such, and empower you to keep moving forward.  Now imagine you get to spend the weekend with them chatting about learning, teaching and supporting efforts of teachers across the nation.  Their on top of this learning sessions focused around math, literacy, common core, professional development, planning tools and much more.  This describes the most amazing weekend I had attending the #coreadvocates: Taking the Next Step children’s in Denver.

There were multiple times that I got completely emotional because we were bring tested like professionals.  During the opening panel discussion it was mentioned multiple times

You are the ones doing the hard work of the core advocates. Let us know how we can support your efforts.

This really spoke to me.  I felt recognized as a professional and as someone who had an impact in education.

This panel consisted of Jason Zimba, Sue Pimentel and Gene Wilhoit and was the kick off for the weekend. It really set the tone of the conference bit it didn’t stop there!! Throughout every session I attended, this mindset and belief was embedded.  It was evident that each educator attending this conference didn’t just believe in their profession and the work they did but they lived and breathed it.  It was part of their everyday teaching and they continually work day in and day out to put these practices into every second of their profession (sometimes more).

The presenters also emanated this mindset.  They shared their experiences, hard work and expertise with us.  And at the end of each session, we did an evaluation that the last question always asked us:

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 11.43.06 AM

How are we going to live this belief (if you will)? How are we going to share and continue the hard work of the advocates with other people we connect to? It’s all about moving forward with the work we know is right for learning and ultimately what’s right for our students!

So after this amazing weekend of learning and interacting with awesome educators I’m commuting to living, breathing, believing, and sharing the work of the #coreadvocates. Keeping in touch with people I met this weekend, educators who impacted me to continue the hard work in this profession, taking next steps in order to take back or profession and empower other educators I work with ti do the same.

Mahalo tio Barbara Beske and all the Student Achievement Partners purple for giving me this opportunity to learn and be a part of this positive change in education.

My closing quote from Sue Pimentel:

All kids are geniuses. As educators, it’s our job to figure out how to get them to access their genius.

#coreadvocates Conference

A Learning Experience

I can’t really remember how I got the idea but I remember negotiating with my boss about being able to do something I wanted to do before I left this position. My main idea started off small but eventually evolved into what I offered:

  • A course for teachers
  • The course to be focused around small group instruction in math
  • Only attract teachers who wanted to learn something new

I asked a friend (and co-worker) to help me with the course, he said yes so with these main ideas in mind we started writing up our course description and figuring out the logistics of the course: how many days, where to hold it, how many people etc.

Here is what we came up with:

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 9.13.15 PM

Our complex area did not provide any funding for substitutes and/or stipends.  Basically the only benefit teachers got from this course was what they personally learned from it.  My co-worker and I were going to be happy even if only 5 people showed up.

We limited the class to 20 people because of the space we had and the amount of follow up we could handle. We ended up with 23 teachers enrolled!  We were SHOCKED!  As day 1 drew closer and closer my nerves increased.  I could only really think about day 1 for now because I didn’t know how the course would evolve with the teachers in it and their needs and wants.

We decided on day 1 being an overview day.  Driving questions for the day turned out to be:

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 8.31.06 PM

There were more than just these questions answered  but this was the main gist.  Day 1’s plan really laid the ground work for days 2 and 3.  There ended up being a few routines that started on day 1 and continued to day 2 and 3. These included the math entry task, the task breakdown, troubleshooting workstations, and goal setting.

Math Entry Task

I’m a true believer in providing teachers opportunities to engage in mathematics as learners.  This section was provided on all 3 days of the course and allowed me to provide learning opportunities for K-5 teachers that normally don’t get to engage in mathematics.

The entry tasks rolled out like this:

Day 1 – Robot Stepper

Day 2 – Noah’s Ark Task

Day 3 – Central Park by Desmos

Task Breakdown

After every math task (see above) they had to breakdown the task with their teacher vision.  Here are the task breakdown questions for all 3 days:

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 8.36.11 PM
Day 1
Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 8.36.26 PM
Day 2
Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 8.37.58 PM
Day 3

Troubleshooting Workstations

This started on day 1 as “Obstacles and Worries” that they had about implementing work stations.  My main goal for this was to see their fears so I could make sure to address them throughout the rest of the course.  Day 1 produced a chart full of them.  On Day 2, my colleague and I choose 3 big worries and obstacles from their day 1 list to conduct a PLC style session. We posed their questions/worries right back to them. We asked them to use their professional knowledge to collaborate and come up with ideas of how they would address these issues:

On Day 3 this section looked pretty much the same except the troubleshooting statements were a little more specific and came from Debbie Diller’s book, Math Work Stations: Independent Learning You Can Count On, K-2.

IMG_3417 IMG_3414 IMG_3413 IMG_3412 IMG_3411 IMG_3410

The best part of this section of the course was that you could see their progression of learning from their worries and obstacles to day 3 troubleshooting answers they came up with!

Goal Setting

Everyday in the last hour or so, teachers were given time to reflect, set goals and share their goals with the group.  This helped to keep themselves accountable for actionable steps (next steps) they would take with the information they learned from each day.  It also helped them figure out how Ian and I could help with the follow up we wanted to provide between days.

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 8.44.06 PM

After Day 1 forming this structural routine for the course we moved forward….

As I already mentioned day 1 was an overview.  They got to play some stations (6 different stations) that had a variety of activities (various grades, various concepts).

On to Day 2……

I wanted day 2’s focus to be around implementing workstations.  So now that they got their feet wet on day 1, I wanted them to dive deeper on day 2.

We made day 2 really about the contents of workstations.  We focused on activities that could be placed at stations.  This day was the most prep work Ian and I did for this course.  We made 2 workstation boxes for each grade level.  Lucky us we had no 3rd grade teachers so we only had to make 10 different boxes!!!  Each box had a minimum of 2 activities and we only reused 4 or 5 activities from day 1.  Teachers sat by grade level and switched between 2 roles during this investigation time.

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 8.45.50 PM

After they were at the station for 10-12 minutes they switched roles and switched station boxes for 10-12 more minutes.  I then proceeded to ask teachers to step into their teaching role and break down the tasks in their grade level boxes.  In addition to the task breakdown they were asked to come up with variations for differentiation for the games also.

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 8.46.50 PM

There were a lot of smaller pieces to day 2 but this was the main course!

Overall look of day 2:

  • Play station games
  • Figuring out station games big idea
  • Where to put it in their teaching
  • Little sprinkling of differentiation

Best part of day 2 was when we gave away all the station boxes as prizes and we even got a variety box of goodies to give away from 52pickup!!!  TEACHERS WERE STOKED!

Day 3: The hardest day….

So now that they have a good grasp on workstations it was time to discuss: “Now what?”

Day 3’s focus was on assessment and what happens with the small groups the teacher pulls.  I really struggled with this day because I thought it would be the hardest for teachers to agree to.  Most teachers I work with want an assessment already made and don’t want to create  one or take the time to engage in the deliberate assessment process.  In addition, I often see teachers using just paper and pencil test to formatively assess their students.  Teacher’s often forget an important piece to the classroom: The sayings and doings of their students.  So I tried to integrate data collection an other formative assessment strategies in to day 3.

To address the assessment piece, I created a speed dating style activity.  Each station had an iPad and an index card.  The index card had a previously played activity written on it.  The iPad had 2 tabs open for them to use:

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 8.52.14 PM

Teacher’s only had 7 minutes to get familiar with the station activity and create a question that they could use to assess students’ understanding of the concept the activity addressed.  The results of this speed dating was two fold:

  1. Teachers practiced creating quick formative assessment questions for stations.
  2. We now have 6 different formative assessment questions for 6 different activities that you could use in your class when you use one of these activities.

But this wasn’t my favorite part of the day (but I did love this part).  My favorite part was sharing with teachers Kassia Omohundro Wedekind’s Math Exchanges.

We read a portion of her book that she does such an eloquent job of describing Math Exchanges but beyond that she specifically talks about why math exchanges and not small groups.  This part of the day I knew I’d be pushing teachers thinking about small group instruction.  Most of my teachers see small group instruction as a time to address student’s with the same ability during that small group meeting.  I really want to provide them with examples of how to go beyond that one way method of seeing this time with students.  I shared with them how I did my math exchanges (2 years ago) with 2nd graders.  I shared audio of student’s conversations and pictures of what students were doing.  Best part about it all is no one had anything to argue in their reading.

At the end of day 3, right before they did their goal setting activity and evaluation, I thanked my teachers for joining me on this journey of learning.  This was an idea that I wanted to try for myself. To try for teachers but mainly I was being selfish.  And they rode the wave and helped me with my learning.  From the looks of it they did a bit of learning along the way also.

If you have more specific questions about this course, feel free to email me, I’d be delighted to expand on what I share here or fill in the the holes of what I didn’t share.

A Learning Experience

The struggle is real

In the 60s and 70s, we learned about sending our troops away to war and having them return to an unsupportive environment where they were ridiculed for performing tasks that our government “asked” (really forced) them to complete.  We learned that these soldiers were being forced to enroll in the military and then asked to “fight for our freedom” and what did they receive in return?  Protests and ridicule about killing innocent people in a foreign country.  How has our support for our troops changed?  Well for one, joining the military is voluntary (sometimes).  What else has changed?  We support our soldiers while they are away and send them care packages filled with goodies they don’t have the luxury of having while fighting in another country.  We also don’t protest and ridicule them for the jobs they were being asked to do by our government.  We instead focus our attention on the systems that are asking our soldiers to perform these tasks.

This is somewhat how I feel right now in my profession as a teacher

Yes I know, to make an exact correlation to what soldiers went through and teachers is not a fair comparison however I am going to attempt to point out some similarities.

1.  Teachers are the ones fighting on the front line.

Teachers are the ones in the classrooms with students EVERYDAY! Day in and day out!  They are dealing with students hormones, foul language (just being honest here), sassy attitudes, loving attitudes, emotional baggage, insecurities and much much more.  In addition to all this, teachers are being asked to teach through it all in a way that reaches every kid with all different thought processes, make sure they are engaged and pass this assessment to make our school look good.  Us teachers are doing the work!!  We are soldiers on the front line.  We are the ones signing up for this job and being asked to do things that we sometimes don’t agree with and sometimes things we can’t LIVE without doing (teaching kids)!

2.  Teachers are getting ridiculed for doing jobs that a bigger system is forcing them to do.

If you asked the most dedicated, student focused teacher the question: Why do you do this job? They would answer with something similar to: I want to make a difference in students’ lives! (This is why I do this job!) Teacher’s don’t want to: judge students, fail them, test them once a month (sometimes more), be the mean guy (even though sometimes its a job requirement), make kids endure standardized testing, let them fall behind, and all the other shitty things we have to do.



Why else would we do this job???  For the money???  HA!  We do this job for similar reasons that soldiers want to “fight for their country”.  The benefits of working with students outweigh  the negatives (it’s getting harder and hard to say this).  Right now as a teacher, our systems (public systems) are forcing these negatives down our throats.  All the positive things and reasons that motivate us are getting pushed away by people making decisions who AREN’T even educators!  Some of them have never taught a day in their lives!  On top of this who is being ridiculed and blamed?  TEACHERS!  Similar to the way soldiers were being ridiculed to do things they didn’t agree with and being chastised about it , our teachers, who are the main workers on the front line, are being asked to push aside what they know is right for students, to check off boxes on someone else’s agenda!  And who’s being blamed and put down for it????? #facepalm

3.  Teachers aren’t being given what they need to be successful.

Everyone knows teachers don’t get paid enough.  But what everyone might not know is that teachers work more than what we get paid for.  Now you people with the “but you get paid during the summer” argument might want to check yourselves.  In Hawaii, we are 10 month employees which means we DON’T get paid “during” summer.  But instead our 10 month salary is being stretched out over 12 months so that we  don’t have to worry about not getting paid for 2 months.

Now check out the #DITLife blog posts, where teachers from across the nation decided to share a day in the life of their typical teaching day.  I’m amazed at how much time these teachers give to their profession.  As a teacher, I am getting paid for a 8 hour day.  But how much do I actually work? If I kept a record everyday I would definite be going into overtime by Wed or Thurs.

Effective teaching takes time.  It takes time to plan deliberate lessons that are engaging, standards based and rigorous.  It takes time to plan for 7 different preps a day (being the only HS math teacher, I taught it all and had to plan it all).  It takes time to give specific descriptive and timely feedback on students’ work (formative assessment).  How much time are we given to do all this?!  ONE HOUR!  ONE HOUR!!!  ONE HOUR to plan for 7 different classes, give feedback on student work, make copies for tomorrow’s lesson, differentiate your lesson, this list could go on and on!  Teachers are expected do a quality job without being given a reasonable amount of time.  This also doesn’t include all the administrative things we have to attend: data team meetings, academic and financial planning meetings, leadership meetings, this list could also go on and on.  In a nutshell, the first thing teachers need to be successful in this profession is time to do all this and they don’t get it.

Other things teachers don’t get to be successful is basic things to make their classroom function: desks and chairs (now ask if these items are in working order), basic supplies: dry erase pens or chalk, chart paper, a few computers, pencils, manipulatives, novel books, pencils, professional learning resource books.  Do we send our soldiers out without the tools they need to get their jobs done?  Do we ridicule them when they aren’t given supplies they need to do a good job and come back without the job done?

If you know me by now, you know I’m against the BLAME GAME.  I’m very solution oriented, I seek for ways to make the best out of shitty situations.  So whether you are a parent, teacher, coach, administrator or merely a bystander think about the struggles teachers are facing today.  What can you do to be a solution to this mess of education?

Parents – How can you support your child’s teacher by even just giving them positive feedback on something you like about their classroom?  How can you rally behind the teachers who are on the front line of education and working over their hours to make your child’s classroom a safe and productive place to learn?

Administrators – What are you doing to be a solution to your school’s structure and system?  Are you allowing teachers to make decisions based on what’s best for students?  How are you supporting teachers and parents in this huge transition in education?  Are you the leader that is the role model for all at your school?  How are you being the educational leader in all this?

Teachers – What are you doing to support your fellow teachers that are teaching along side you in the battlefield?  How are you being the role model for your students?  Have you committed to life long learning for our students as well as for ourselves? How are you striving to be that teacher you never had but always wish you did!?

Be a solution to our dilemma and not another grumbling voice that would much rather talk the talk but never really walk the walk.

I’m striving and struggling to be the change I want to see in this world.

Won’t you join me!?

The struggle is real

Expanding from #countingcircles

In my classroom, I started using counting circles to be a solution to the problem of students not being able to perform mental math or have any mental math strategies.  Counting circles has worked great for me but I’m ready to start expanding.  A friend of mine recommended buying Pamela Weber Harris’s new lesson and activities book that stems from her first book Building Powerful Numeracy for Middle & High School Students.  I purchase the new book and start thumbing through it.  I realize that she refers to her first printed book a lot.  This gets to thinking….I realize that I barely read any of it and it is sitting right there on my shelf!  So I got to reading!!!!!

This book is the expansion that I’ve been looking for.  Every move in this book is deliberate and calculated.  She discusses numeracy and the importance of it in our students’ math education, in order for them to be successful for more advanced mathematical concepts.

The part that I loved about this book is that she gives you sets (number strings) that you could use for specific strategies and/or specific classes.  She expands the number strings into Pre-Calculus and students (and teachers) see the application of strategies throughout different courses.

How do I see myself using this resource?

In December, I presented Number Talks to the curriculum coordinators in our complex area.  They were K-12 curriculum coordinators and my number talks session mainly focused on using number strings from Sherry Parrish’s book.  Not until my secondary teachers asked me about their grade levels did I make the connection to Pamela Harris’s resource and that I had her book for teachers to borrow in our professional resource library.  I borrowed out the books and looked through mine again and now I feel ready to start working with secondary teachers in implementing number talks as daily routine in their classrooms.  Pamela’s original book has the number strings I would use for my daily routine but her new book, Lesson and Activities for Building Powerful Numeracy, has amazing lesson and activities that you can just use straight from the book!  These are my favorite types of resources to purchase as a teacher because you can just use the activities right from the book which minimizing the adapting teachers have to make.  BUT…..She doesn’t stop there!! She also has sample dialogue between student and teacher for various activities in the book.  This is the best help for a teacher who needs that extra support to get their students discussing mathematics and/or explaining their reasoning.



I can’t wait to start sharing this new addition to my counting circle routine and to also help teacher who are ready to stop the blame game in their classrooms!


Enjoy fellow teacher friends!

Expanding from #countingcircles