# How Many Fingers Did We Cross?

Last night I send these tweets to an author friend of Rm. 202’s:

After the conversation ended, I knew I had the plan for what we’d be doing in math this morning. 🙂 #reallifeproblemsolving #wehadtofigureouthowmanyfingerswerecrossed

So…I started by sharing the Twitter thread and telling them all about the conversation I’d had with Ame Dyckman–the one that started with shrimp and chili dogs and ended with unicorns and crossed fingers. LOL  I told them all about how I’d really been wondering how many fingers we would have crossed and that I knew they could help me with that solution.  First we practiced crossing our fingers (and our toes–this was really hard for some kiddos! ha!), and then I reminded them of the problem I needed their help with:

We agreed that we were figuring out the total for 23 people (22 kiddos plus me!) and that our explanations needed the have the criteria on the right side of our chart.  Kiddos worked with their learning partners, and could choose any (or all!) of the parts of the problem the wanted to work on.

Kiddos had time to work, choosing all different parts of the chart to solve.  I’m pretty sure this work went on for about 35 or 40 minutes, with partnerships working pretty steadily and cooperatively together to solve our problem.  As I worked through the room and conferred with each pair, we tweaked some things, I asked questions to help them dig deeper and many groups worked to make sure their posters could be understood without them standing by to explain what the numbers/pictures meant.

Here’s a bit of what that gallery walk looked (and sounded) like:

Once we gathered on the rug, we got to dig into some solutions kiddos had found.

We started with the first one, “How many fingers would we cross if everyone crossed 2 fingers?”  Several teams tossed out their answers and we had everything from 46 and 44 to 24 and 30.  What?? Rather than have every group explain their thinking (and perhaps confuse everyone or make it harder to get to our solution), I went with the two answers closest together–44 and 46.

We started with having Allie and Ayonna share their poster and telling about their thinking:

If you can tell from their poster, A and A decided to organize their thinking by writing everyone’s name so they remembered to include everyone.  Then, as we talked about how to count all the 2s, we decided that we could make groups of 2s to make 10.  10s would make it really easy for us to then count the total number of fingers.  We made an equation at the bottom to show the total of 46.

Callahan and Jesse showed us how they figured out 1o crossed fingers here:

They wrote lots of 10s, and then made sure to label each 10 so they knew they had enough (23).  We talked together to clarify which line of numbers was which (fingers or people), and added labels to make that more clear for readers.  They counted the total number of fingers by making 2 groups of 100 with tens, and then finding 30 leftovers.  Their equation ended up being 100 x 2= 200, then 200 + 30= 230 fingers.  At the bottom they started work to figure out how many it would be if we did the 20 fingers and toes.

Lastly, Jamie and Kaiden showed us how they knew that if we crossed ALL OUR FINGERS AND TOES it would be 460 fingers and toes!! (We were amazed by this number and figured Ame Dyckman would be impressed, too!).

Their thinking looks a little like Callahan and Jesse, with groups of 200 (made of 20s), though, rather than 100 with 10s.

After this one, we realized some connections between our numbers–like that we could have used the 10s numbers to help us with the 20s (because 20 is a double of 10)–and so figured that we could use that same thinking to figure out “how many fingers if we cross 4?”

Johnny helped us think this through and figured that if we counted 46 twice that would the same as doubling.  We drew this to help us figure that out:

Through our discussion and brainstorming we figured we could count by 10s to figure out most of it (and Callahan even found another 10 by using that 4 inside of the bottom 6! This made it SUPER EASY!!).

So…after our work we had decided we’d crossed A LOT of fingers hoping for a new book. 🙂

We ended by noticing (and we’ll come back to this much later) that the 4 is a double of 2, the 20 is a double of 10, and also that the answers doubled as the numbers doubled.  Kaiden added some arrows to show our connections. 🙂

Wow….I’m tired writing about that, but I am pretty sure my kiddos were equally tired working on it!  It’s the kind of math that reminds me that real life problems are the best and that when kiddos have a real reason to figure it out, the motivation is through the roof!  Everyone works hard and stays engaged because they have to know the answer!  Thanks for the inspiration, Ame Dyckman!!

# What Does Listening Really Look Like?

The other day I came across an interesting tweet that made me think in a new way.  That’s kind of an everyday occurrence, so it didn’t really surprise me, but this one was one that really made me think about both my students and myself.

I have never officially taught the idea of “whole body listening,” nor do I have a poster like this in my room, but I probably encourage this general idea in my students.  It would probably be said that in our room (and perhaps in our school?) quiet and still = listening.  I know that I expect students to be looking at the speaker, having quiet ….oh wait–I just remembered something hanging on our wall.  It’s a little blurry but you’ll get the idea:

Guess I do have that poster on my wall.  Well, on my door….

Ok, so here’s where my thinking went after I read that tweet.  I think I have always encouraged students to be still, quiet, sitting up straight (no slouching or laying down on my rug!), watching closely.  In theory, this is not a bad thing.  It’s worked for so many years.  But after reading Dr. Rosenberg’s thoughts, I thought of myself and how I certainly don’t listen like that.  I am pretty sure that I am quiet (I don’t interrupt the speaker without raising my hand!), but I am probably not still.  My hands are not in my lap and I am not just sitting there.  Often I am writing, many times I am tweeting (depending on where I am listening), sometimes I am doodling–I might even be doing a puzzle on an app on my iPad.  If I were to just be sitting still in one spot, I would be SUPER distracted by how uncomfortable I felt that I would quickly STOP listening to the speaker and start thinking about how I needed out.  My next thought was then How many students have been in that same predicament as me in all these years I’ve been teaching?  How many behavior problems on our whole group rug were really just kiddos telling me they needed to listen in a different way? Man…

This tweet, along with some learning I have been doing with a counselor at our school about mindfulness and focus has caused me to rethink (and then reorganize) how my students should look and sound when they are listening.  During Read Aloud, for instance, kiddos are invited to bring along paper, a notebook or their iPad so they can draw or write while they’re listening.  Usually I encourage them to visualize and sketch what the movie they are making in their heads, but often kiddos just doodle other things while they listen to me read.  At first I was not so sure this was working, but I can usually tell by the way they still react to events in the story as well as by talking about the text that they really are focused in with me even if they don’t look just like that “whole body listening” poster.

While I do think there is a need to teach kiddos to listen, to be respectful to others and to focus in on their learning, I’m thinking differently about telling them how this looks.  I think it is ore important to get to know each kiddo personally and help them figure out what their body looks and feels like when they are listening well.  It would be interesting to make another version of that poster with my class.  I wonder what it would look like…

# Top 5 Reasons Why Twitter Makes Me a Better Teacher

I have been on Twitter for almost 5 years now (started in July 2011), and I can honestly say that it has been a great decision since day one.  Probably there are lots of people who haven’t evaluated their Twitter decision, but I wonder if the reason I did is because I use it solely for my professional life (where I am often evaluating the effectiveness of decisions I make).  Nope, no celebrities or sports figures on my “following” list; I follow other educators (of all levels, not just the one I teach), authors, librarians, principals, consultants, instructional coaches and other related to education.  I do also have a few family members (although they don’t really tweet), and also news organizations because even thought they are not teachers, they inform my teaching and keep me informed as a person.  I decided that meant they fit the criteria.

I went back to look at if I had already written this post (sometimes I have the same thoughts over and over LOL), and realized I haven’t really ever done that.  I did write about the fact that I use Twitter in a reflection I wrote for grad school a few years ago, and I wrote a post called Why I Blog, inspired by educator and author David Warlick (@dwarlick).  I realized I mentioned Twitter in that post, but only the fact that I’m on it–not why.

So I guess in some ways this post is five years in the making–hopefully that doesn’t mean it will be five-years long!  Here we go!

• Personalized Professional Learning–in my pjs!:  Because I have been particular with who I follow, I am pretty certain that every time I log on to Twitter I will read a tweet that includes something I didn’t know.  Whether it’s someone who’s tweeting from a conference they’re attending, someone tweeting an article they’re reading (or have written!), a blogger publicizing their latest post, someone tweet a meanginful quote, a chat in which I’m participating about a specific topic or just a statement about the day, I feel smarter for having spent that time there reading.  Sometimes I am able to read the whole thing right then, but often I will retweet or save the tweet for later so I can find it when I have more time.  Either way, I am able to cater the learning I am doing to my needs, on my time, and like I mentioned before, to where I am (and what I’m wearing!).
• Quick Sharing: Sometimes I do have time to write a blog (at least not at that moment), so I use my Twitter feed (@jenbearden) or our class Twitter feed (@jbeardensclass) to share what we’re doing through out the day.
• Validation:  Sometimes you just need to hear someone else say you’re doing a good job, you know?  While I by no means do what I do for a pat on the back, or to toot my horn, but it does feel really nice when someone else agrees that what you’re doing is a good idea.  Having someone retweet your idea or respond to you and tell you they agree with your thought feels good.  Often it doesn’t even take anything on the other end, but just for me to see that someone is doing something similar based on their tweets or retweets.  This often happens during chats (which could fit into the collaboration section, too), as you can talk to other educators about a common topic, learning and growing together, as you share ideas.

I’m not even sure that this covers all the bases (I’m sure that as soon as I hit PUBLISH I’ll think of something else I’ll want to go back and add), and in some ways it’s hard to even put it into words how much I feel like Twitter is an important resource for me.   I’m hoping that this list at least gives some small idea of it’s great possibilities for helping both me and my students explore and connect with the world!

Why do you use Twitter?  What would you add to my list?  Leave a comment and tell us what you think!!  🙂

# Pictures of the Day: May 19, 2015

I REALLY want to show you the WHOLE thing about this project, but instead I’ll just show you two pictures as a tease for a later story.  They’re the pictures of the day for today, but they’ve been in the works since last week at this time.  And you know, I think I’m just going to let you wonder.  To let the pictures speak for themselves and see what happens….:)

# Picture of the Day: May 12, 2015

This picture is from something that happened today as we embarked on (yet another!) inspiring project:

It’s related to a really cool conversation we had the other day about ways to show that you care for someone, and the idea sparked a HUGE idea for venues outside our classroom that we could spread the love.  We watched a @wonderopolis video about hashtags today, and so as we began to brainstorm, Millie wanted us to create our own brand new hashtag.  Well…I think we did it.  These are the only two tweets that come up when you search the hashtag #nicethingstodoandsay, which tells me that those are the only two tweets that have been written.  And they’re both ours.   (Ok, yeah, and don’t tell us if it’s not true–hee hee). CANNOT wait to show this to Rm. 202 kiddos tomorrow!

# EDUC 573: Week 5–I Went to School on a Saturday

Yep, you heard me right.  I got up at 5:45 (which is WAY earlier than a school day), drove my kids 30 minutes to my mom’s house, then drove about 40 minutes in the other direction to go to school on a Saturday.  And it was all by choice.

EdCampStl was the reason.  What’s EdCamp?  Well, it’s honestly just a bunch of teachers who all gather at a school together on a Saturday to learn together, and what that learning is is not decided until we all arrive.  Sessions are planned on the fly, based on what people know and what they want to know.  You’re encouraged to sit in on as many sessions as you can, moving from one to another if it doesn’t end up meeting your needs.  For more about what your brain looks like on EdCamp, check out Krissy Venosdales’ blog where she wrote about it this weekend.

I attended my first EdCamp last year, and this was even more fabulous!  Last time I went alone, which was a little bit daunting, because I am not the most outgoing person.  I had a fine time, but didn’t really talk to anybody or make any new connections.  I did learn more about using social media in the classroom, but didn’t really take away anything I could implement right away.

This time, I was really excited to be able to finally meet some of my online “friends” in person, putting a real face to the avatar I’ve been looking at for the last year!  This was better than I even anticipated, and will make the connection we share online even stronger.  I attended some pretty great sessions, too, where I  learned about a new iPad app, how to use Google forms in the classroom, more about collaborative groups and had a discussion about the impact of ELA Common Core on what we do in our day-to-day teaching lives.

For me, it was the conversations that made this year different.  We’ve been talking alot about PLNs lately, and I definitely have some pretty fabulous people in mine.  Being able to sit in the same room as them and share ideas was a little bit surreal.  Kinda like nerd heaven, really.  And the best part was that since we’re connected on Twitter (which is where I learned about the whole EdCamp experience in the first place), we could keep  the conversation going even after the day was over.  Our learning continues beyond the conference, which is not always something that happens.

I feel really lucky to be a part of a PLN of some really smart, risk-taking, innovative educators from whom I learn something new every time I log on (which is pretty much every day!).  I can truly say that without them, I would not be the teacher I am today. 🙂

Are you a member of a PLN?  Why do you like it?  What do you learn from your PLN?  Have you been to EdCamp?  Tell me about it!

# Mystery Skype Take 2

Last week we participated in our first Mystery Skype.  It was great fun, and we were looking forward to our next opportunity, which came this week!  On Friday, we were able to connect with Ms. Copland’s 4th graders–a connection we made from some friends I have on Twitter.

We had some basic knowledge this time around, since we’d done it before, but we were determined to improve on some things.  For one, we knew that we’d need to have more maps out, and to already have our computer ready–if we needed a map or some other resource that wasn’t in our atlas.  And since I didn’t have pictures from our first try, I knew I wanted to have a photographer ready for this call.   It was great to have some teachers comment on our blog in the meantime, too, offering great suggestions for how they do Mystery Skype.  Thanks to Mrs. Kneller, Mrs. Venosdale (who was our Mystery Skype call last week!), Mrs. Bowman, and Ms. Ripp (who didn’t comment on our post, but who is definitely one of my go-to teachers on topics like this!) for sharing your Mystery Skype know-how with us!

This time the set up of our call was a little trickier (at least for me!) because there was a time difference to take into account.  I cannot tell you how many times I checked and then double-checked if the times we were throwing out were for Central (where we are) or Eastern time.  Finally we settled on a 9:40 EST phone call.  This meant that I would have less of my class present for the beginning of the call (since we don’t really start school until 8:45 CST), but it worked out ok, I think.  We were able to get started with 7 or so students and then the rest joined us as they trickled in.

So we were prepared with our first question to be related to time zone, because last time it gave us great info to start narrowing down where our Mystery Skype friends were located.  But then, I had a smart cookie who saw this on the message board on my Skype page where I’d been talking to Ms. Copland prior to our call:

We didn’t need our time zone question anymore, because my friends had already figured out that our new friends were calling from somewhere east of us.

This time we had “stricter” rules that you had to get 10 clues before you could guess the other classes’ location, so we kept careful track of their answers to our questions.

I was pretty impressed by the questions that the kiddos thought of this time, but even more surprised by the initial prediction that Seamus made on the state they were in.  Once he knew they were in the eastern US, he said, “I bet they’re in Massachusetts.”  It was kind of a fluke, related to the fact that his dad is from Boston, but was indeed the place we were supposed to be guessing!   So with Massachusetts knowledge in his head, he began to gear our questions toward MA facts that would help us decide if that was indeed the mystery state.

As the rest of the class starting arriving, more and more kiddos got involved in the work, using the big map on our wall, the computer and the atlas.

I was so impressed by how well this one went!  Last time we were a little fuzzy on our own MO geography, and so we knew we needed to brush up on that before this call.  This time we knew the answers to the questions they asked, used many resources at our disposal to figure out which questions to ask, and also paid attention to the details we saw in their room to help narrow down our guess on their location–like the fact that someone close to the camera was wearing a Boston Red Sox shirt!  We asked them about that, but they quickly pointed out all the other teams represented in the room–including our very own St. Louis Cardinals!

What a great time we had!  We’re definitely Mystery Skype missionaries now, and are helping connect other teachers in our school to this great activity!  Another 5th grade class is going to visit during our Mystery Skype next week (yep, already have another one on the calendar!) so that they can learn how it works.  So cool!

Yay for Mystery Skype!

One more resource I found was this list of other ways to use Mystery Skype, posted by Krissy Venosdale (@ktvee) on her blog, venspired.com.  Excited to try some of these others in the future!