My Take on 3rd Grade, Unit 1

Unit 1 for our Round Rock 3rd graders is titled, “Summarizing and Analyzing Data Using a Variety of Old and New Data Displays” which is very much reflective of the Focus TEKS for this unit.

Collect and Display Data:
3.8A summarize a data set with multiple categories using a frequency table, dot plot, pictograph, or bar graph with scaled intervals; and – R RC4

Solve Problems Using Data:
3.4A solve with fluency one-step and two-step problems involving addition and subtraction within 1,000 [with 1- and 2-digit numbers only in this unit] using strategies based on place value, properties of operations, and the relationship between addition and subtraction; – R RC2
3.5A represent one- and two-step problems involving addition and subtraction of whole numbers to 1,000 [with 1- and 2-digit numbers only in this unit] using pictorial models, number lines, and equations; – R RC2
3.8B solve one- and two-step problems using categorical data represented with a frequency table, dot plot, pictograph, or bar graph with scaled intervals. – S RC4

On a personal note, I love that this unit has been moved to the beginning of the year! Students always enjoy collecting data about themselves, their families, and their friends, and this unit should lend itself to some great conversations that will allow students and teachers to begin making those valuable connections between their lives. Of course, it’s also awesome that teachers will be able to pull these skills in repeatedly during science throughout the year. Great suggestion, teachers!!

The most important ideas I would want my students to get out of this unit are

  • Data can be collected and analyzed many different ways
  • There are different types of data that require different types of graphs
  • Collecting and organizing data into graphic representations can help us efficiently solve problems.

I would start the unit by previewing graphs students have previously seen and used in 1st and 2nd grade, then allow a few days for students to collect some different types of data and create graphs using that data, utilizing frequency tables as a collection tool each time. Then I would have students use the data they already collected and turn it into a dot plot, after modeling what this is and how I could use it for my own data. I would hope that some of the students’ data would lend itself to using dot plots while others may not. This situation could give us a great platform for discourse and a discussion about how we decide which graph to use for a particular set of data.

Along the way and throughout the data collection and analyzing using graphs, I would ask students to think about what they wonder when they look at other students’ graphs and slip in some computation problems about some of our class graphs each day. I’m thinking I would create a bank of questions to pull from including both one- and two-step addition and subtraction problems and some open-ended thought provoking problems such as

  • Which graph will best represent the data I collected? Why?
  • Is my data easier to read in a pictograph or a dot plot? Why?
  • How could I justify why I chose a bar graph to represent my data?

Hopefully, by beginning to ask some of these questions early in the unit, as we move through the unit, students will begin to use the same questions and really start to see why we summarize data using multiple categories, and also have a lot of fun along the way!!



About to burst!!

Ok, so this is not a required blog post for my Math Rocks cohort, but I am so excited about something I just created that I’m going to burst if I don’t share it!

I just made my very first screencast-o-matic video!!!

This may not be a big deal to a lot of people, but for me it is huge. I learned about this resource at a tech training given by our district ITS’s (Instructional Technology Specialists) last semester but hadn’t seen a need for it yet. Well, given the right opportunity, just look what can be created!

My need came from a problem. My campus principal wanted me to present a Math Unit Planning Kick Off for our campus, but the Monday she wanted this to happen was the same day I had a required training. Uh oh… After we talked through it and foudn that there was no flexibility with when this information should be presented, we decided she would just present it for me and I gave her some main points to cover. Well, that just wasn’t good enough for me. I knew there had to be a better way for me to give information to my campus without actually being present and making sure everything I would want to cover would get covered, that’s where screencast-0-matic comes in!!

At first I was going to just record myself talking on the webcam but I really needed to show teachers what I was talking about on a computer screen. Luckily, I can do both with this program. I used a scripted recording and was able to fairly easily create the video in about 2 hours, granted it was my first time, I’m pretty sure it will go faster next time I make a video.

So, I guess the proof is in the pudding, so here’s my video. Feel free to leave constructive feedback on how I could improve my process in the future and let my new learning encourage you to try something new instead of giving up the next time you encounter a problem or obstacle.

Click here to see my video.

Strategies, Algorithms, and Multiplication, oh my!

After watching Graham Fletcher’s ShadowCon 2016 video about telling a math story and getting back to the standards as our basis for what math to teach in the first place, I was drawn to some of what we may see as the most basic skills to be taught in elementary. Multiplication, its just multiplication, right? You just memorize your facts and use them over and over, right? Nope and nope, actually there’s an amazing depth to learning multiplication. I found that students are starting to represent multiplication situations in 2nd grade, then they take those experiences into 3rd grade where it becomes an exploratory wonderland of arrays, skip counting, hopping on number lines, mental math, mathematical properties, and so many more as shown in TEKS 3(4)(E)! The standards then begin to include multiplying  two-digit by one-digit numbers using these strategies and/or algorithms they have made sense of while playing with multiplication as seen below.

3(4)(G) Number and operations. The student applies mathematical process standards to develop and use strategies and methods for whole number computations in order to solve problems with efficiency and accuracy.

The student is expected to use strategies and algorithms, including the standard algorithm, to multiply a two-digit number by a one-digit number. Strategies may include mental math, partial products, and the commutative, associative, and distributive properties.

When we start teaching kids about multiplication in this wonderland, they will be able to discover what strategies, or even algorithms when appropriate,  make sense to them and help them multiply “flexibly, accurately, and efficiently” (National Research Council, 2001, p. 121) which is an essential piece of procedural fluency. And these students can then take those strategies and algorithms with them into 4th, 5th, and middle grades where they will be able to make sense of math operations even when they include fractions and decimals. No matter what the math is, we must remember that the strategies and algorithms are not what we are teaching, they are what our students are discovering for themselves!

Here we boldly go…

I have been given the privilege of joining a group of learners in my district that is exploring math in elementary called “Math Rocks”! This is my first post on my first blog which is why I chose my favorite quote for my tagline:

“Without change there would be no butterflies.” -Unknown

I realize this journey will be challenging and exciting, may involve changing some thinking on my part, and I can’t wait to grow alongside my peers! I have to confess, I’m also super excited that we are going to be exploring MATH! I have always enjoyed math, mostly because I’m a rule follower and as a kid I was taught to follow certain rules and I would get the right answers. I love getting the right answer!! Luckily, I’ve been involved in some amazing professional development both inside and outside of my school district which has taught me that there is actually more to math than just following rules, and working with students for 14 years has shown me there is definitely more to math than the “right” answers. The more I learn, the more intrigued I become about how interesting and mystical math really is. (yes, I realize this makes me a huge math dork, and I’m ok with that)

So, in conclusion, I would like to publicly declare my goal for this Math Rocks cohort. To Boldly Go, where no man has gone before in the name of Math…actually several people have gone before, but it’s my first time, and I love me some Star Trek. But I do plan to go boldly and realize there may be moments of discomfort and frustration but it will all be worth it in the end. I look forward to the enhancing, changing, and transforming of my own ideas and practices in the name of Math!