Archive for February, 2013


Posted on February 27, 2013. Filed under: Classroom environment, Common Core | Tags: , , , , , |

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea”

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“If you want to teach children to love math, don’t drill them to death with decontextualized skills, don’t give them hundreds of point less word problems, but rather give them interesting projects where they need to use math.”

Dr. Nicki


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Successful Strategies for Guided Math Groups: Generating and Testing Hypothesis

Posted on February 26, 2013. Filed under: Common Core | Tags: , |

Marzano (2001) has stated that generating and testing hypothesis is one of the strategies that move student achievement.  This intersects with Mathematical Practice 3.  In this practice students are supposed to understand and use stated assumptions, definitions, and previously established results in constructing arguments.”

So as students are thinking through math activities, we need to remind them to tap into prior knowledge. 

Next, “They make conjectures and build a logical progression of statements to explore the truth of their conjectures. They are able to analyze situations by breaking them into cases, and can recognize and use counterexamples.”

Do you have your students to do this?  Use counterexamples…It’s a practice.  Make sure you discuss counterexamples.

Furthermore, students “justify their conclusions, communicate them to others, and respond to the arguments of others.”

Do you use the words “justify your thinking.”  Do you provide structures like small guided math groups where everyone gets a chance to communicate their thinking to others? And do you set up structures where students can “respond” to others…. How often do you give your students the opportunity to do that?

Moreover, students “reason inductively about data, making plausible arguments that take into account the context from which the data arose. Mathematically proficient students are also able to compare the effectiveness of two plausible arguments, distinguish correct logic or reasoning from that which is flawed, and-if there is a flaw in an argument-explain what it is.”

Do you give your students the opportunity to read and listen to different arguments and then decide which one makes sense?

Happy Mathing,

Dr. Nicki

References: CCSSM 2010

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Posted on February 25, 2013. Filed under: Guided math, Math is a Language | Tags: , , , |

Marzano (2001) states that “cues, questions and advanced organizers” are one of the key strategies that move student achievement.  These should be used throughout guided math lessons to scaffold student access to content.  Use templates to teach students how to organize their thinking for short answer and extended response questions.  Use graphic organizers to help students unpack vocabulary.  Always ask great questions!

Here are some links:

Graphic Organizers

Templates 1, 2, 3, 4

Great Questions

Happy Mathing,

Dr. Nicki

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Guided Math Strategies: Setting Objectives and Providing Feedback

Posted on February 21, 2013. Filed under: Common Core, Guided math | Tags: , , , |

One of Marzano’s 9 effective strategies is Setting Objectives and Providing Feedback.  You want to set the objectives in a collaborative way.  Of course you should let the students know what the standards are but they should be a part of setting goals and monitoring their personal progress towards those goals.  Be sure to use “I can” statements so the Core is Comprehensible to your students.


Idea 1 (I can statements)

Idea 2 (Kindergarten example)

Idea 3 (Draft of a curriculum map)

Idea 4 (Draft of curriculum map)

Idea 5

Happy Mathing,

Dr. Nicki

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Successful Strategies for Guided Math Groups and More

Posted on February 18, 2013. Filed under: Assessment, Common Core, Graphic Organizers, Guided math, Manipulatives, Math Centers, Multiple Intelligences | Tags: , , , |

 Marzano (2001) states that Nonlinguistic Representations are one of the 9 major instructional strategies that advance student achievement.  We need to be sure to spend time teaching nonlinguistically, using visual imagery and bodily-kinestheic experiences.  As you progress through a CRA Framework of concrete, pictorial, and then abstract students should act things out, use physical models and draw pictures.

 Concept maps, thinking maps, and brainstorm webs are all examples of teaching with nonlinguistic representations. See my Thinking Maps Pinterest board for examples.

  Here are some other resources:


Link 2

Link 3

Link 4

Be sure to have your students work with nonlinguistic representations in math workstations as well as use this strategy during guided math groups.

Happy Mathing,

Dr. Nicki

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More about Bowling for Subtraction Facts!

Posted on February 15, 2013. Filed under: Common Core, Guided math, Math Centers | Tags: , , , |

Bowling is a great guided math activity as well as a great game to play during workstations.   Students stay engaged and they actually do learn all their combinations through ten because of the repetition element!  Here are some links:

Link 1  Must see!  Who knew that plastic cups and a tennis ball could teach the facts!

LInk 2

Link 3

Link 4

Link 5

Link 6 (Facts through 5)

Link 7

Happy Mathing,

Dr. Nicki

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Where are your tools?

Posted on February 14, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

Mathematical practice 5 is about tools.  Students should be familiar with the tools appropriate for the work they are doing.  When I am in classrooms modeling fluency routines, I am always looking for tools.  They are usually hanging on the wall as wallpaper.  The numberline that hangs around the room, is just that.  Wallpaper.  So is the numbergrid (hundreds chart) that is often posted in some far away, out of reach corner as well.

Tools are meant to be used!  Our students need big ones, that they can touch, feel, walk on and use when they are thinking.  The tools should be fully accessible and visible in the whole class meeting area.  Often, when I’m working with students and they get stuck, there are no tools to be found! 

Get the tools off the walls and into the students hands! 

P.S. Everybody should have a toolkit (whether individual or communal) that they can use whenever they need to when doing math – during whole class discussions, guided math groups or math workstations.

Happy Mathing,

Dr. Nicki

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Word Problem Running Record

Posted on February 13, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

Here is a great site that discusses the word problem interview that I have written about before.  This interview protocol was developed by Anna Newman (1977) who maintained that there are 5 specific potential error patterns that students make when working through word problems. This site actually gives some great student examples of the specific 5 different types of error patterns that students make while reading a problem.  Check it out!

Happy Mathing,

Dr. Nicki

P.S. Prior Post


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Successful Strategies for Guided Math Groups: Cooperative Games

Posted on February 8, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

Marzano (2001) found that Cooperative Learning moves student achievement.  During guided math groups students often work together to solve a problem.  Remember that when students are working on a problem there should be roles.  Have someone be the interpreter, someone be the illustrator, someone solve the problem one way and another person to double check the work.  Watch how the children work together in the group to solve their problem and take notes on how they are interacting.  When necessary, give prompts and coach students through the problem.

Cooperative Groups are great to do not only in small guided math groups but also in math workstations as well.

Resources 1

Resources 2

Resources 3

Resources 4

Resources 5

Happy Mathing,

Dr. Nicki

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Successful Strategies for Guided Math Groups: Homework Continuing the Conversation

Posted on February 6, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

Homework is crucial.  Let me step out on a limb here- it should be no more than 2 or 3 problems a night. What????  Breathe…. Yes, I said it – 2 or 3 problems a night.  Deep, rich, thorough problems…that ask students to think, model and explain what they are doing.  A problem that scales Bloom’s heights.  With a problem like that, you only need 2 or 3.  Sometimes, only even 1.

Happy Mathing,

Dr. Nicki

P.S.  Marzano (2001) found it to be one of the key ways to improve student achievement…and feedback counts

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