Mathematics in the City (in Kirkwood)

Mathematics in the City is an organization I learned about this summer when the fabulous Kara Imm came to Robinson to teach us about how to better teach addition/subtraction and multiplication/division of fractions using new units from Cathy Fosnot (another amazing math mind!).

Fast-forward to now: yesterday we (several 5th and 6th grade teachers and math specialists) were lucky to have Kara back again to continue to learn from her (and each other!) as we taught one of those units in our own classrooms!  We spent the morning planning our lesson, digging into the mathematics, talking about how we’d introduce the scenario, anticipating what kiddos would do and say, and brainstorming questions we’d ask our mathematicians to help “lift their thinking.”  Then our group (oh, did I mention there were like 15 teachers??) watched as Mrs. Hong taught the lesson in her room with her friends.  We got to “kid-watch” and take notes on what thinking they used, how they explained their work and also practice what we’d planned during our earlier session.

At lunch we debriefed on how the morning had gone, planning for how we’d change things based on the information we gathered.  Then it was time to plan for what would happen in my classroom later that day.

We decided that Kara would lead a number string with my students, focusing on fractions, but using the context of money.  Her string looked like this:


See the red parts?  Those are the problems she gave students to solve (remember when we did number strings together at our Curriculum Night?  Same idea, only with a different concept).  The black is documenting kiddos’ thinking, and the blue is how she was modelling their thinking.  The story she told here (that gave kiddos an entry point and helped them make connections to what they know) was about how she’d found some money as she walked along this morning.  What a great way to talk about fractions huh?  TOTALLY made it less scary, and who doesn’t know at least SOMETHING about money?  The thinking they were able to share was fabulous, and the kiddos who felt confident to share their thinking was great, too; some kids who don’t normally share during number strings were more than willing to do so with this one!



I know that pictures of this totally don’t do the fabulous thinking justice, but here are some shots I captured during our work yesterday.  Check them out!

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What a fabulous (man, I say that alot, but it’s true!) opportunity to learn with such great minds!  Can’t wait to see how this helps our math thinking progress as we begin a new investigation and more number strings!

If you’re a parent, be sure to share what your kiddos said about this experience.  If you’re a teacher, have you used number strings in your room?  Do you know Kara or Mathematics in the City?  Do you use Cathy Fosnot units with your learners?  What do you think of them??  I’D LOVE TO HEAR ABOUT IT!!


Math Warm-Ups January 28-February 1, 2013

Another busy week in Rm. 202!  This week we only had three warm-ups because of our schedule.  Enjoy solving them!


IMG127This warm-up was a nod to the next part of our geometry unit–coordinate grids.  We’re also going to continue to practice “old” skills like adding fractions to keep them fresh–and because many kiddos still didn’t quite get it during our fraction unit.



IMG128One thing that I want to make sure I always highlight for my kiddos is the fact that they know many things that help make math easier in their heads than on paper.  I want them to be flexible thinkers, and know how to do things in more than one way.  This one was a way to get them thinking about using  known (in this case a multiple of 10) to help them figure out a problem.  Below it is the number string that we worked through after the initial conversation.



IMG129Can you tell we ran out of chart paper this day?  Nothing like using every last bit of it!  While this question could have been seen as “easy” to some, I was hoping that since we’d done these before, kiddos could dig deeper and share a problem that was harder than just this plus this equals 125.  I LOVED it when Luke through out a problem with exponents!  We had a great conversation about how they work, and the best part is that we’re going to do more with them during our upcoming decimal unit–as we discuss expanded form.  It’s so great when kid provides a natural connection without even knowing it!  You can’t plan that kind of stuff.  Beautiful. 🙂