An Environment of Numeracy

I just started a book study, led by Mrs. Bell and Mrs. LeSeure, on the book Guided Math by Laney Sammons.  I have only read the first few chapters so far, but am really loving it already.  The book is based on the idea of using the strategies that kiddos already know as readers (visualizing, connecting, questioning, rereading, summarizing, etc) in relation to math; the same things that we do to understand what we read can help us understand math (or any other subject, for that matter!).

So, like I said, we’re just at the beginning, but have learned the overview of the big ideas in Guided Math.  Then we were supposed to choose one that we were going to commit to change or add to our math class as we work through the book together.  My goal was to add to the environment of numeracy in my classroom: to find new and innovative ways to add math to parts of our day outside of “math time.”  The goal is to get kids thinking like mathematicians in all parts of their life at school.

One way to do this, even from the minute they walk into the room in the morning is with warm-ups.  These are quick, math-focused questions that kids answer on a chart for everyone to learn from together.  This was our warm-up from this morning:

It wasn’t a ground-breaking question, nor is it the most deeply I’ll ever ask my kids to think, but it got us focused on math right from the beginning.  I loved it when someone said they had no idea what to write and with just one question from a friend, were able to add “I used math when I had to figure out how long I had until I had to leave to go to my dad’s house” to the chart.  That’s what it’s all about really, supporting each other in our learning.

So what math did you use this weekend?  How do you involve your kids in mathematical thinking outside of “math time?”  What suggestions do you have for math questions we can use for a warm-up?  We’ve love to hear your thinking and add to ours!

Geometry Challenge for January 23

Today was one of those days when I decided to totally change my plan for math and it worked out tremendously better than the original plans. Let me tell you about it. 🙂

My kids are used to what I call “geometry challenges”, where they have to prove that a statement is true, by using what they know as mathematicians.  The first one we did was to prove that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.  They worked alone or with a partner to show how that was true, or to find a way to prove that it wasn’t.  Then next one was to prove that a straight angle equals 180 degrees.  With that one, they used Power Polygons with angles that they know to show whether that statement was true or untrue.  Needless to say, they’ve totally rocked each of those situations, and really shown what they know about geometry.

So today I was headed in a totally different direction, but decided to do today’s lesson as a challenge again.  Here is what they were asked to do:

Like in the past, they had amazing things to show for the work on this challenge.  Before I show you what they did, I’m curious to know what your answer would be.  Could you answer this challenge?