Our Week – November 1

It’s been a busy weeks. The math stations seem to be working well, blogging continues to be exciting – thank you for all the comments and for sharing the blogging address so widely, and we’ve begun our second set of book clubs which is great, great, great.

Humphrey Book Clubs

Humphrey always says things in three’s when he’s excited.  We’re having fun reading books from this series together.  We’re reading five different books in the series and learning how to record our understanding each time we read.  We’re learning to use the Essence Strategy.  That is recording the main idea or what we feel is essential in each chapter.  When we share what we’ve recorded with each other we also try to share how and why we made those inferences.

S.E.L. – Open Circle – Considering the Impact of Our Words

This week our S.E.L. discussions have focused on the definition of bullying and how we can take care with our words.  We’ve practiced being encouraging, complimentary and caring.  We’ve talked about reading reactions and apologizing. We’ve read several different books, Say Something, Just Kidding, Red, and Poetreeto help us imagine different situations and to remind us of things that happen around us each day that we might make better.  We’ve discussed advocating for our selves and others.  We’ve begun to explore what it means to be an up-stander.

Learning the Commutative and Distributive Property of Multiplication

Our goal in daily problem solving is to offer the children opportunities to practice logical thinking and to find ways to use new knowledge to become more efficient over time. The children choose a strategy they can use to document their thinking and follow through to an accurate solution. This can be challenging.  When you and I read the problems, we see that most of them can be solved with multiplication, but because it is still new to your children, it is not always their choice.

Please expect this. There are many things happening all at once in this thinking process.  The children have to read the problem and visualize the operations that are happening in the story.  The problems generally have two-steps, sometimes more, and often more than one operation.  They have to keep them separate which is not always easy.  The problems also use amounts that are manageable, but still challenging.

At this point you’ll notice any range of strategies.  Sometime the children are drawing out the problems.  This can become cumbersome and mistakes are often made when counting. Sometimes children are skip counting or using a doubling strategy.   Sometimes children are able to mentally manipulate amounts in their minds but are off by a bit when the value of a digit is confused.  Each child is using what s/he knows to solve the problem, and with time will become more efficient. With time you’ll see changes and progress. The children selected sample problems in the classroom to anchor their understanding and process at this time. You may want to save some at home too, so you can talk about the growth that you see when you look at problems from across the year.  They’ll be surprised that you notice how they are using more sophisticated strategies and understanding all four operations with whole numbers and fractions.

We’ve spent some time understanding the ARRAY model of multiplication.  The class has learned about the commutative property.  We are sure that 6×7=7×6 even if we are not instantly sure of the answer. On top of that we can create an array of that amount and find a way to solve it (We know how to 7 fives and then we just need to add one more on.  Or we could double 6 three times and add one more.)  It is interesting to discover there are many correct ways to reach a solution.

We’ve also been learning how to use what we know about place value to help us multiply larger amounts. We’ve just begun to explore the distributive property.  At this point taking these steps more often help us with accuracy.  They remind us to multiply everything – not just the hundreds and tens, but also the ones.

The problems have been written to help the children practice using this skill to become more efficient. More and more of the children are feeling sure of themselves with this strategy.

Bits and Pieces –

  • We are still trying to find out why Mrs. Brisbane is away from here class in Room 26.  Humphrey’s been collecting clues and we have too. We’re having fun reading Mysteries According to Humphrey.
  • We’ve been reading about different types of scientists and science.  The children have been thinking about science topics they might like to explore.  They’ve considered things from nature they might like to observe, things about space or space exploration they might want to know more about, or insects or rocks… They’ve been thinking about what they have lots of questions about so we can begin an independent inquiry project.
  • A reminder – Parent-Teacher conferences are coming up next week on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

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