Saturday, July 5, 2014

Gwinnett County's Connect 4

I just finished a 3-day conference, and my head is spinning with ideas.  Keep in mind that each session was 1.5 hrs.  I have a lot written here, but hopefully something will be helpful.  Here are some of my notes:

Keynote Greg Tang:  Base 10 blocks are good models, but students need to get away from proportional models.  Once they have a grasp on place value, use cubes, pens, and post-its to represent ones, tens, and hundreds.  These are just models.  Begin to use chips (we have red/yellow plastic chips)-- write 1, 10, 100 on these.  They are all the same size.  Tang then discussed bar modeling when solving word problems.  I find Math Playground's Thinking Blocks to be an extremely helpful tool for students.
STEM:  Understanding Engineering:  Free curriculum found at We also discussed their Engineering Design Process:
  There should be fluidity to move between steps.  Groups will create "blueprints."  Each member of the group has the same plan.  The teacher will listen to the plan before students begin creating.  Once the time allotment for "create" has expired, groups will test.  All groups should discuss what was successful, even those that were unable to test.  The teacher could ask them, "What were your challenges in building?"
Math Differentiation:  Differentiation can occur in the content, process, or product.  A helpful book to use is How to Differentiate Your Math Instruction.  I noticed some excellent surveys to give students.  (If you're a Gwinnett teacher, every school should have this book.)
Text Complexity/Close Reading:  Determine with students that we don't "close read" everything; my examples are confusing parts of a novel, nonfiction, a manual.  In this class, we read The Day the Crayons Quit and were given some great questions and lessons.  We also read Freedom Summer (what an amazing book!!) and came up with questions of our own, along with follow-up lessons.

Keynote: Warren Phillips:  He is a Science guru.  He gave us lots of strategies to get the kids up and moving.  I saw him in an extended session, and he had lots of fun, exciting experiments.  My mouth was dropping, so I know kids' mouths would too!  He also has written many science songs that help kids memorize tough concepts (more upper grades).

Keynote:  Kristin Ziemke:  She used Today's Meet to ask us various questions.  We logged on, using our devices, and kept conversation with her.  She uses many websites to aid in her instruction.  She loves Edmodo for students to have a discussion.  Ziemke also had students watch a PBS television show and comment using Padlet.  Her students blog, using Kid Blog.  She also visits  Each day there is a different "I Wonder" question.  What a great way to develop curiosity!  Ziemke also has students record themselves to share their learning for the day.  To review a lesson, she may show a slideshow of students' work throughout the week.
Singapore Math:  Two books to note:  Step-by-Step Model Drawing and Why Before How.  When students are working on word problems (or exemplars), students should not explain the order of what they did for problem solving.  They need to explain why they chose the method.  Remind students not to erase- just draw a line through errors.  Students should write the equation before they solve the problem.  This may seem difficult for students at first.  For example, if I have 3 red balloons and 2 fly away, I may be tempted to draw the balloons and X 2 of them out.  However, students should get in the habit of writing the equation first.  When our students move to the writing piece of the exemplar, they should answer, "Why did you solve it this way?"
Flipping the Classroom Using eClass (just applicable to Gwinnett teachers):  Go to your eClass --> Self-Directed Training --> Content --> (on sidebar) GCPS Training Materials --> Elementary School... There you will find the training manual.  Any questions you have should be found there.  However it's an extremely long manual!!
When assigning homework in eClass, "flipping" would be to assign a preview video.  Students will come in the next day, ready to learn.  You can check to see if a student did his homework.  (Content --> Edit Course --> View User Progress)
Helpful Links found along the way: no ads pop up while watching youtube!
Brainbreaks:  GoNoodle and Learning Station Music

1 comment:

  1. Loved reading about what you learned over the summer! Yay for Singapore Math!


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