What an amazing way to start 2016! Today, the third graders in Kristi Van's class at Fairmeadow Elementary School in PAUSD had the pleasure of exploring Spheros. It was a fantastic experience where groups of students shared the iPads, explored the user interface of the Sphero app, and had a free exploration time with those fun robots. The third graders were very quick with finding and trying the different controls on the app. The students loved being able to change the speed of their Spheros, adjust the color, make their Sphero into a disco ball, and make their robot jump.
I received this message from a teacher at a school I support today and it was definitely my #flyhighfri moment. Teachers at Fairmeadow in PAUSD have the opportunity at each Tuesday's staff meeting to recognize a colleague with a shout out. It meant so much to me to receive this note because the teacher not only thought of me, but she kept it, held onto it, and made sure to give it to me. Today wasn't a work day for me and I was just dropping off things at the school. What a wonderful way to start winter break. I am touched, honored, and humbled for this heartwarming note.
I've had the pleasure of partnering with Diane Darrow, a fifth grade teacher in the Palo Alto Unified School District, throughout this school year so far on math instruction, setting up her math workshop, using Problem of the Month packets for extensions, analyzing formative assessments, and leading the students in number talks. It's been a pleasure getting the opportunity to watch her students learn and grow.
On Tuesday, December 15th, I led the students in a number talk on fractions. Diane and asked me to design a fractions number talk since her students had been working on fractions during their math workshop. I thought of using the easier operation of adding fractions but setting the challenge in the problem with unlike denominators. The denominators I chose could lead to a large common denominator or a smaller one if the students reduced the fractions first.
As our Number Talk progressed, the students shared responses and strategies that Diane and I both anticipated. Many students were able to see the relationship and equivalencies between fractions. Toward the end of the Number Talk, Diane and I were both incredible impressed by the flexible thinking from one of her fifth graders. Instead of trying to find common denominators with 8 and 10, the student thought of a way to make the denominator (8) of the first fraction (6/8) into the value of 10 in order to match the denominator of the second fraction (6/10). As a result he multiplied 8 by 1.25 in order to have common denominators of 10. What was interesting was he also multiplied the numerator by 1.25 to make it an equivalent fraction and got 7.5 as the numerator. That led to a wonderful conversation of whether you can have decimal numbers in a fraction. What do you think?
It has been such a great few weeks leading up to this week of Computer Science Education Week and the #HourOfCode. Teachers and students throughout #PAUSD were getting excited about spending an hour engaged in computer science, computer programming, and coding. I had the pleasure of helping a few teachers get set up on code.org, work with their students in going the lessons and modules on code.org and Khan Academy, and had the pleasure of capturing some of the excitement.
Below is a video I put together on my phone of Kindergarten, third grade, and fourth grade students at Fairmeadow. It was such a pleasure of me to share the #HourOfCode with those students and teachers, and to capture their experience for them.
Students at Fairmeadow Elementary School in PAUSD have the pleasure of listening to Patricia Polacco's storytelling. What an incredible experience for everyone in the room! Patricia Polacco are sharing amazing life stories focused on imagination, creativity, and values of exploring the world (vs spending hours and hours in front of a TV watching television shows and playing video games).
Patricia Polacco addressing the students - "We are all gifted. We just open our gifts at different times."
"Look how many my bridge can hold!"
"Look how strong my bridge is."
It was so much fun leading the Kindergarten students at Fairmeadow Elementary School in a STEAM bridge building activity. The students showed a lot of perseverance building their bridges, creating new prototypes and iterations, and testing the strength of their bridges.
On Friday, October 30th, I had the pleasure of leading the third graders in Charlotte Fang's class at Juana Briones Elementary School in a Number Talk and the students were highly engaged, shared strong mathematical thinking, and engaged in powerful academic discourse. This was my second time leading a Number Talk with Mrs. Fang's students and it was great to hear the student name the strategies we discussed during our first Number Talk, such as decomposing, using place values, and using friendly or landmark numbers.
This this Number Talk, I led the students in two related problems, to check their application of strategies and concepts from the first problem to the second. It was great to hear the students' strategies, mathematical thinking, and the academic discourse we had around the two problems in the first image above. As in all Number Talks, I chose the problems 4 + 6 + 5 and 24 + 16 + 25 purposefully to see if the students would be able to make an connections between the two problems. It was great to see some common strategies used across the two problems.
It was truly amazing to see the students work so hard on the math problems, especially when the day was filled with Halloween-themed activities. What an amazing pleasure it was for me to share that Number Talk with them
Open-Ended Problem Stem
My day at Juana Briones Elementary School continued in April McCandless' second grade class. Mrs. McCandless had asked me to demonstrate how to do an Open-Ended Problem Stem with her students from having that activity introduced to her and other math lead teachers in PAUSD earlier the previous week. I had a fun time coming up with the problem so I could demonstrate the format of an Open-Ended Problem Stem while making it engaging with a Halloween-theme.
After beginning with a quick warm-up problem and reviewing the importance of showing our work, including every step so our thinking is clear, and labeling our work, I introduced the problem above. I got scared at a Halloween Party and hid under the table. Eventually I built up my courage and peeked from where I was and saw 19 legs. Who could be at the party?
The students immediately had this confused look on their faces. "How could there be an odd number of legs?" "What?!?!" "Do you get it?" "I don't understand." Those responses were just the reactions I anticipated. After a bit of encouragement to attempt the problem, suggestions to talk with their partners, and to think creatively, the students really into the problem.
It was really great to hear and see the students' increased flexible thinking with the problem. As you can see in the pictures in the above gallery, some ideas included an alien costume with three legs, a pirate's costume with a peg leg, and a costume of an elderly person whose cane was mistaken for a leg.
In my closing, I complimented the students with the lifeskills they showed during the lesson. I twas great to see the students demonstrate perseverance, collaboration with partners and as a table group on a difficult problem, effort, and a growth mindset. Those second graders definitely showed an incredible sense of accomplishment and pride when they reflected on their work.
For me, it was an incredible day being at Juana Briones Elementary School - participating in the Halloween Parade, sharing a Number Talk with Charlotte Fang's third graders, and demonstrating an Open-Ended Problem Stem to April McCandless' second grade students.
There was such a buzz in the air at the Back to School Nights at the four elementary schools in Palo Alto Unified School District that I got to experience this evening. Teachers were prepared to share their grade level curriculum programs, expectations, and structures; parents were eager to meet their child's teacher; principals and assistant principals were roaming throughout the schools greeting families and supporting the entire school community, and administrators from the district office were able to stop by to support the entire evening. It's always great to see the excitement at this point of the school year!
One thing I really want to highlight was the process a third grade teacher at Fairmeadow used for her classroom families to sign up for parent volunteer opportunities. It was definitely a great way to manage the sign up process in a paperless manner.
Math & STEAM Coach / TOSA in Palo Alto Unified School District.