Sunday, July 17, 2016

Oceans of Steals, Deals and Giveaways {Week 2}

Did you get a chance to participate in our Oceans of Steals, Deals and Giveaways last time? If not, no worries! You have a second chance. Week 2 is here and you are going to love some of the great deals you can snag during this week.

In this post, you can get a preview of what's happening all week long! 

Monday is another Monday Madness sale! Tons of dollar deals will be happening. Just search for #mondaymadness on Teachers Pay Teachers to see all of the awesome deals.

My #mondaymadness deal will be one of my favorite products! These Questions to Encourage Mathematical Thinking have been a great addition to my classroom. You can read my blog post about asking questions here. This resource will be just one dollar for all of Monday! 

Tuesday will be another 2 for Tuesday! If you are the kind of person that plans ahead, you won't want to miss this 2 for Tuesday. It's like Christmas in July! Two of my seasonal resources will be half off, and you won't have to worry about finding a great activity when winter rolls around. Restate the Question with CSIQ: Christmas Edition and my Winter Sentence Activity Pack will both be on sale for 50% off on Tuesday.

Wednesday is going to be wacky with some Flash Freebies! If you aren't already following me on Facebook, you might want to do that here. I will be announcing the flash freebies throughout the day over there!

Thursday will be an even better deal when you can get bundles at an even bigger discount! My 2D Shape Sort Bundle includes my 2 best selling products - the Quadrilaterals 2D Shape Sort and Triangles 2D Shape Sort. If you teach geometry concepts in 3rd-5th grade, this is a bundle that can add a lot to your instruction! On Thursday, the bundle will be on (even more) sale for $4.50! (That's going to save you $3.50 over buying both products separately!)

Last, but not least, is Free Stuff Friday!! You can enter this awesome giveaway by visiting our stores and giving us a follow. There will be SEVEN gift cards up for grabs! Check back on Friday to enter this awesome giveaway. :-)

Tons of bloggers and TpT sellers are participating in great week of deals, so hop on through to check them out!

Mathematical Mindsets Book Study - Week 2

Hey everyone! I'm a little late to the book study party this week, but I wanted to share some thoughts on chapter 2. I'm loving this book more and more, and I hope that you will get something out of what I share here!

I got busy reading chapter two while I was on a plane coming home from Orlando and it was the perfect way to end my 2 inspirational days at the TpT Conference. It solidified many of the things I had been thinking about and learning while I was there! LOVE it when so many things come together.

Chapter 2: The Power of Mistakes and Struggle

Chapter two focused on how vitally important mistakes are to the learning and growing process - and how our brains don't grow if we get everything right all the time. It also discussed the importance of helping students (and ourselves) to view mistakes differently, and how we can help students get there.

My Big Takeaway

When I was getting my masters, I remember discussing the power of struggle and the importance of letting kids struggle without jumping in to "rescue" them. This was a huge lightbulb for me at the time - I mean, I just wanted them all to be successful and I could totally help them do that! But letting students wrestle with problems and "get their hands dirty" really does help them grow, and this chapter reiterated that for me. Mistakes shouldn't be viewed as bad, but as ways that our brains are creating connections and growing. This new view on mistakes is going to be the forefront of my classroom this year - in all subject areas! 

I think the first part of that quote is what got me - "If we believe that we can learn.." I want every student to feel that they can, and especially in math!

3 Ideas to Bring This Chapter To Life

1. Change our message. In math, I think it's really easy for us as teachers to unintentionally focus more on correct answers vs. incorrect answer. In reality, we need to be giving kids the message that mistakes are important and they grow your brain! If students are consistently getting the message that they are failing, what incentive will they have to want to move forward? By changing this one message, students will know that their mistakes are helping them grow, not making them failures.

2. Keep it visible. So often, we start something in our classrooms and then things get crazy and we forget about it. But I don't think I can afford to go through that cycle with this. I think keeping our messages about mistakes at the forefront of our teaching will help remind students (and US!) about the power of mistakes. There were some great ideas in the book that I think I will try - like having students draw and write about their favorite messages about brain growth or having students identify their feelings about when they make a mistake and reflecting on how that makes them feel.

3. Let them struggle. This chapter did a great job of talking about students being in a state of "disequilibrium." This is the idea that when new information is presented and doesn't quite fit, that students have to find a way to make it fit into their mental model. The only way to reach a new state of equilibrium is to fit the new information that doesn't fit yet into the puzzle. Until they do, they are in a state of disequilibrium. I hadn't really thought about Jean Piaget for awhile (ahem - since college? - ahem) but his theory was that disequilibrium "leads to true wisdom." Even though students (and adults) are uncomfortable when they are in this state, it's the brain's opportunity to find new pathways and ways of putting pieces together that leads to new learning. If students are never in this state, they are not learning! We have to help students start to get comfortable with the struggle and let them know that if they aren't feeling a little bit uncomfortable, they aren't learning anything new.

Wrapping It Up

Chapter 2 really helped me get focused and challenged my thinking about how I approach mistakes in my classroom. Even though I believe that struggle is vital, I don't think I'm doing a good enough job helping students see mistakes as learning opportunities. I need to do a better job of this! Putting these practices into action is going to be a priority for me when school starts in August. 

How do you feel about this chapter? What does it look like when students make mistakes in your classroom? What do you think you might do differently to let kids struggle? Let's chat in the comments!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Mathematical Mindset Books Study - Chapter One

Today is the first day of our collaborative online book study on Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler. I am so excited to be reading this book and to hear/read what others are thinking!

Have you ever picked up a professional book and immediately started nodding your head at everything you were reading and/or furiously started scribbling sticky notes? That is exactly what happened when I began reading. I was even reading passages out loud to my husband while I was reading. (I'm sure I wasn't annoying him, AT ALL.)

I want to start out by saying that math is my THING. It wasn't always my THING but it is now. I can relate to so many things in this book simply because I feel like I have lived them myself! My mathematical journey hasn't been easy, but it has been rewarding and I'm glad that I get to share that with my students every year, and now with you! You can read a little bit about my math journey here.

Ok, let's get on to the book!!!

Chapter 1 - The Brain and Mathematical Learning

This chapter focuses mainly on giving a short overview - the author discusses new research about the brain, as well as gives a little heads up about what to expect in the upcoming chapters. She also talks about how we can use the new information scientists are learning to inform and change instruction for the better.

My Big Takeaway

I think what really struck me from this first chapter was damage that can be done when teachers and students have a fixed mindset about mathematics, BUT that when the right conditions exist - when we CREATE the right conditions - that our brains CAN change and grow. My favorite quote from this chapter:

This quote actually gets me a little teary-eyed. EVERYONE. This is the message I desperately want my students to hear every single day. "You can do it. You are a hard worker. I believe that you can learn this!" Even though many of the statistics quoted in the first chapter are pretty scary and sad (40% of students surveyed believed that intelligence was a gift - you either have it or you don't), I have hope that we can all do a better job of helping each and every student that walks through our door be successful in mathematics.

3 Ideas to Bring This Chapter To Life

1. Choose our words wisely. Students, especially girls according to the chapter, are looking to connect with their teachers. When we say things like "I was bad at math in school" or "I never liked math either" we are inadvertently giving them a pass on being a successful math student. Just being aware of our words could have a huge impact. We can also work on how we praise students - instead of telling them how smart they are, praise them for the hard work they put in. {More on this in future chapters!}

2. Be open to change. I think that the rest of this book will be eye-opening and I need to be ready for some big ideas to come my way. As teachers, we need to be open to thinking about things differently. We need to give up the idea that some kids are "wired" for math, while others just don't have "it," whatever that means. We might have to expand our thinking to new ways of doing business in our classrooms, and that means an open mind to new ideas.

3. Learn more about the brain. I found the research in this first chapter fascinating! I had no idea how our brains' plasticity worked. Boaler cited several studies where individual's brains were able to grow and change - even adults - when they were learning new things and creating new pathways in their brains. Check out this story about Cameron Mott for a pretty amazing look at how the brain can learn and develop new connections in order to grow.

Wrapping It Up

This chapter just barely scratched the surface! I can't wait to read more and learn strategies to be a better teacher for my students. I can't wait to help them discover everything that lies within them, just waiting to be tapped into! 

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts on the first chapter? Did you see something different? I'd love to chat about your thoughts in the comments!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Oceans of Deals, Steals and Giveaways {Week 1}

I am in denial. I refuse to accept that July is already here.


I know July is going to go fast, so to help myself feel better (and to help YOU feel better) I joined with almost 80 bloggers and TpTers for a week of awesome deals, steals and a HUGE giveaway! Make you sure to get a nice full cup of coffee each day so you can check it all out...

This post will give you all the information and links you need to navigate the week!

On Monday, you can find a ton of dollar deals for Monday Madness! Search #MondayMadness on TpT to save big on some great resources.

From my store, you will be able to snag my newest resource for just $1.00! Last year, my kids got obsessed with LOVED finding and learning about a new word each day. (You can read the post here.) I created this resource to help anyone get started building vocabulary, driven by students, by learning about a Word A Day!

Tuesday is 2 for Tuesday! Two of my favorite classroom resources will be 50% off. The Decimal Cards Activity Pack has tons of different uses and has been great practice for my students in naming and comparing decimals. The Questions to Encourage Mathematical Thinking resource has been my go to when working with small groups or my whole class - it's just a good reminder how important it is to pay attention to the questions I ask my students! Each of these will be just $1.75 on Tuesday.

Wednesday is going to be wacky with some Flash Freebies! If you aren't already following me on Facebook, you might want to do that here. I will be announcing the flash freebies throughout the day over there!

Who doesn't love Thrifty Thursday?? On Thursday, you can grab bundles (already a great discount) at an even better price! My 2D Shape Sort Bundle includes my 2 best selling products - the Quadrilaterals 2D Shape Sort and Triangles 2D Shape Sort. If you teach geometry concepts in 3rd-5th grade, this is a bundle that can add a lot to your instruction! On Thursday, the bundle will be on (even more) sale for $4.50! (That's going to save you $3.50 over buying both products separately!)

Last, but not least, is Free Stuff Friday!! You can enter this awesome giveaway by visiting our stores and giving us a follow. There will be SEVEN gift cards up for grabs!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to check out the other bloggers who are participating in this fun week!