So we have been doing genius hour for the past tho months now and though I had reservations about it, it truly has been an amazing experience for me and my students. For this that do not know what genius hour is, it is basically a moment in our week where students can explore their passions. We do it every day 4, right after technology. My students have been in love with it. In fact many of them have been finishing projects at home.

## Unusual Animals

Thought I would share a great science project that we just completed. In grade two the students learn all about life cycles of animals and differnent animal groups. As a team we decided to give the classes a culminating task where they had to make their own animal. Students had to first decide on an animal name, the describe what group the animal was from using the characteristics that we had been working on, then tell us it’s habitat, and physical and behavioural adaptations. Students then recorded their presentation using educreations and shared them with the world. The kids were really engaged in this lesson and loved creating their own animal. Here are some samples of the students work:

http://www.educreations.com/lesson/view/gurshan-s-unusual-animal/13186427/?s=UuyUv8&ref=link

http://www.educreations.com/lesson/view/gureet-s-unusual-animal/13183547/?s=fu7qdt&ref=link

http://www.educreations.com/lesson/view/pranav-s-unusual-animal/13177965/?s=4l4Z7u&ref=link

http://www.educreations.com/lesson/view/krish-s-unusual-animal/13176490/?s=VhbCaT&ref=link

http://www.educreations.com/lesson/view/navjot-s-unusual-animal/13127743/?s=VRUeF2&ref=link

http://www.educreations.com/lesson/view/manjot-s-unusual-animal/13113473/?s=VyE5ed&ref=link

http://www.educreations.com/lesson/view/avreet-s-unusual-animal/13113328/?s=vymFlX&ref=link

http://www.educreations.com/lesson/view/manveen/12972145/?s=7OYsVM&ref=link

http://www.educreations.com/lesson/view/sumaima-s-unusual-animal/13185979/?s=zeZrTs&ref=link

http://www.educreations.com/lesson/view/prabhnoor-s-unusual-animal/13180992/?s=zmdYtW&ref=link

## Accountable Talk in the Classroom: Practical Advice for the Classroom

I have recently finished one great book and one great article on Accountable Talk and Classroom Discussions.

*Mathematical Thinking and Learning*,

*10*, 313-340.

*Classroom Discussions: Using math talk to help students learn.*California: Scholastics. 2009.

**Implementing Classroom Discussions**

**Establishing and Maintaining a Respectful, Supportive Environment:**

**Focusing Talk on the Mathematics:**

*plan your questions carefully*

*Have good formative assessment happening at all times*

*Make a plan as to what big ideas you want to cover*

*Anticipate problems and possible solutions*

**Providing for Equitable Participation in the Classroom Talk:**

**Types of Talk Moves:**

**Talk Moves That Help Students Clarify and Share Their Own Thoughts**

**Talk Moves That Help Students Orient to Others’ Thinking**

**Talk Moves that Help Students Deepen Their Reasoning**

**Talk Moves That Help Students Engage with Others’ Thinking**

**1: Anticipation (P.322)**

**2: Monitoring students’ work (P. 326)**

**3: Selecting student work (P.327-328)**

**4: Purposefully sequencing them in discussion (P. 329)**

**5: Helping students make mathematical sense (P.330-331)**

**Trouble Shooting Talk in the Classroom**

**My Students won’t Talk:**

**First ask yourself:**our my students silent because they have not understood a particular question? –> sometimes they need to hear the question a few times and have time to think

*if this is the case then give students time to think (*

**wait time**is very important)*also revoice it or have another student revoice the question*

**Second they may be shy or unsure of their abilities:**

*If this is the case you may need to revisit strategies for talking*

*Think-pair-share**is an excellent way to get kids comfortable to talk*

*it will also take time to get kids*

**comfortable****.**

*Wait time**again is important as it holds students accountable. Also making them feel comfortable and that mistakes are okay will assist with this difficulties*

**The same few students do all the talking:**

**Wait-Time:**

*I know that I say this a lot but it allows the other students to think and then participate while making the ones who always participate*(it will feel awkward at first but wait as long as you can)

**Have students Revoice**:

*This is good strategy to bring validity to students answers and encourage others to talk*

**Conferencing with the ones who talk a lot:**

*You also don’t want to ignore the ones who talk all the time. You can talk to them and let them know that you are not ignoring them but are just trying to allow others to participate.*

**Turn-Taking/ Random presenters/ group discussions:**

*These are all roughly the same strategy. It allows you to have certain presenters share their thinking without offending or allowing others to take over the conversation*

**Should I call on students who do not raise their hands?**

**“right to pass”:**

*allow students at the beginning of the year the right to pass. You’ll notice that they may do this at first but as you build the community they do this less and less*

**after partner talk**:

*Often when you give them a chance to share first they are more willing to share or at least have a response from their partner*

**My students will talk, but they won’t listen**

**Set the classroom Norms:**

*remind each students that they have the right to be heard but that this also means an obligation to listen*

**Students Revoice:**

*When students need to revoice then they have to listen*

**Huh?” How do I respond to incomprehensible contributions?**

**Revoicing or repeating**what they have said. After you have done this ask them is this what you meant?

**Record their strategy**on the board and ask them is this what you meant?

**Brilliant, but did anyone understand?**

**I have students at very different levels**

**Pair students in ability groups**:

*Similar abilities with similar abilities. This allows students to contribute at their level and to also struggle at their level. In addition, it allows you as the teacher to differentiate as needed. When you scaffold you can do so by group not by individuals*

**Parallel Tasks**:

*Give students similar tasks but with varying degrees of difficulty (still around the same big idea)*

**What should I do when students are wrong?**

**This discussion is not going anywhere or Students’ answers are so superficial!**

**Use the working on phase as an opportunity to direct your bigger discussion:**

*As you are walking around and looking at work, look for the progression your students are taking. This will lead you to a group discussions. What questions are the students asking themselves? What problems are occurring? What big ideas are they trying to work out, have worked out or are struggling with?*

**Look at the type of questions that you are asking:**

*As teachers we are comfortable asking questions but do our questions already have responses? Are we leading the kids to*

**OUR**thinking or our we allowing the students talk to**LEAD**the thinking. Yes you are very much in control of the discuss and have to lead but it is not**YOUR**thinking but**THEIRS**that should be articulated.*Higher order questions build-upon or go beyond the thinking that is being presented. As a teacher we need to help with the connections in mathematics. Compare student work? Compare strategies, Pros and Cons, naming and identifying. We need to go beyond just show and tell*

## Another day in patternville

It’s been awhile since I last blogged but we have been on our two week fall break. It is quite nice to be apart of a balanced calendar. The kids have been great getting right back into the swing of things Today in math class we are talking about patterns. From my previous blog post students were doing identifying non patterns and patterns. Now they are creating their own patterns for another group to solve. Take a look at the patterns below Once the groups finished they had to tell if it was a pattern, then tell the rule of the pattern and finally extend the pattern by three terms. Here are some of their work:

This had some very interesting results. I had some students unable to make patterns, and some students who only made repeating patterns. The interesting part is when it came to explaining all students recognized if it was a pattern or not but some struggled to make them. I found this interest because of they can recognize patterns they should be able to make them. However, that is not the case, I wonder why? More work might be needed in explaining patterns and identifying key attributes of patterns. Overall, this was a great exercise to help the students solidify their understanding with patterns. Our next big problem is looking at how two patterns are a like and not alike (e.g. 2,4,6,8,10,… And 3,5,7,8,11,…..). Stay tuned for more on patterns

## Patterning in grade two

Today was our first formal lesson in patterning. What I mean by that is we have been discussing patterns but more in the context of number sense, where we have been learning to count by twos, fives and tens, as well as, doubling numbers. This type of talk has been focused on the magnitude of numbers and associated with place value not so much on growing and shrinking of patterns.

For the patterns we used click on this link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/okxkmomlckfu758/Is%20this%20a%20pattern.docx

## Place Value

These last few months we have been focusing on place value. Place value is such an important beginning for any primary student in mathematics. We have started the unit with basic counting. Now this may seem too basic and you may think, “what kid doesn’t know how to count by grade two?” This may seem an obvious skill to many but it is something that many (not some) still struggle with.

Counting goes beyond being ale to tag each object and say its corresponding number. By grade two students should be seeing groups of objects, especially twos, fives and tens, and be able to count by them efficiently and effectively. Students are still grasping with recognizing fives and tens as they count often still counting by ones till they get to five and then putting that aside. Students should start to see 5′s as 2+3 or 4+1 or even better 10′s as 9+1. 5+5, 2+8, 4+6, 7+3, without having to count.

To help with this we have been collecting and organizing objects in our classroom. Students have been counting bins, pencils, books, etc. in order to tell me how many is in each basic. We then moved to figure out how many bundles of tens there was in each basket and if there was any patterns we noticed in the numbers. Students soon realized that the number (or numbers) to the left became the amount of groups of tens. I told them that this was because that is called the tens column in the place value system and really it is saying 1 group of 10 or 1 x 10.

We are now trying to see how many groups of fives and tens there are in the bins. Now again, I thought to myself this should be an easier concept. Obviously if they see the fives then they will see how many tens. I also thought that since we worked on doubling so much in patterning that they would see that there was two fives in one ten. However, I was wrong again. Like many students, we are struggling to see how one group of objects can be called a 1 group but still be 5 or 10 things. Another mistake that my students are making is assuming that the ones place value tells us how many tens we have. They assume that if the left column told us the tens then the right must tell us the ones. We are currently working on this concept by looking at numbers and asking how many tens and how many fives? The follow up questions are simple: What patterns do you notice? Why does this occur? My hope is that students will see that there are two fives for every ten and if the leftovers (after making a group of ten) is greater then five it is just one more group. Example: 76: The number 76 has 7 groups of tens because there is 7 tens in 70 (10+10+10+10+10+10+10=70). We also have 15 fives because there are two fives in one ten and we have 7 tens so you double it; however, we also have 6 leftover which can make another group of five; making the total 15 fives, with one leftover.

## Genius hour

So we started Genius Hour! Now you might be asking what is genius hour. Genius hour is a time set aside so that my kids can pursue their own interests in learning. It allows the students to learn, research, and develop what they what to do. Now you might be thinking, you let your kids have free rain? Well in a way, yes I did, however, their was one criteria, it had to benefit the classroom.