We made it through the school year! I'm pretty sure it was the longest school year ever! We added days to our calendar and lost some precious vacation time. Either way, summer vacation has arrived for us Zones Math ladies and we are truly grateful for it! I don't know about you but I really need these summer weeks to do the 3 R's, relax, revive and refresh! It makes me a better teacher, mother and wife when August hits and it's time to get back to business. If you are just starting your summer vacation or it is so close you can almost taste it, you might be doing some reflecting on your school year. Did you implement Zones Math? How did it go? I hope you loved it like we do. If you are not in the reflecting state of mind try reading Olivia's blog post that might help you connect with how awesome of a teacher you truly are!
Maybe you thought about doing Zones Math and you just weren't sure if it was for you. Read Meghan's blog post! It will help you make that decision! Or did you just stumble upon us and now you are wondering what in the world Zones Math even is? Read this for a great explanation! Whatever state of mind you are in this summer I hope you have time to enjoy the 3 R's (relax, revive, refresh)! Stop back to see us at anytime! We are always here to help you along your math journey! Until next time, Sara
We all know the term "growth mindset" has been pretty trendy lately. But, what does it REALLY mean to cultivate it in your classroom? When the article "How to Integrate Growth Mindset Messages Into Every Part of Math Class" kept showing up in our Twitter feed, I knew I had to check it out. This is one of the opening sentences of the article:
Can you identify with the 60% who don't feel strongly about cultivating a growth mindset in your students? I know I feel that way at times.
Fortunately, this article had some concrete suggestions of what we can do... and there's something we ALREADY do! One of the suggestions is to use error analysis, which we do quite often in the Notebook zone. I originally got the idea from Teaching With a A Mountain View (check it out for some great premade error analysis pages!). I modified her form for our ELLs, so that it includes a word bank and sentence starters. We do a number talk style model of what a strong response looks like before students work on the page on their own. Here are some examples from my 4th grade class from their work on the standard algorithm for subtraction.
So how does this error analysis cultivate a growth mindset? Here's what Cathrine Good, growth mindset researcher and social psychology professor says about error analysis: "Embedded in that worked example is a lovely opportunity to talk about growth mindset and mistakes and process."
Do you use error analysis with your students? How can you use this to cultivate a growth mindset in your class?
Has this ever been you?
Um, yes. Me too. There are so many times when I want to get inside a student's head to figure out exactly what he/she is thinking.
It's GOOD for students to explain their thinking. It helps solidify their ideas and their learning, as well as help them clear up misconceptions on their own. In order to develop our students' verbal reasoning, I looked for a way to frame their thinking and become independent in their explanations. I started looking in to Visible Thinking  and I love it!
Visible Thinking has routines that help students frame their ideas and discuss their thinking. These can be done verbally, in writing, or both!
In 5th grade, we started comparing decimals with a class discussion. Students had to compare 2.587 and 2.98. Of course, they picked 2.587 as the greatest, because 2.587 was longer. This started a great discussion about the value of each digit. At the end of the class period, we wanted to see how students' thinking had changed through the discussion. We used the routine "I used to think___ but now I think____". Students completed this on their whiteboard, and it was very interesting to see what they came up with.
In 4th grade, we used the "See, Think, Wonder" routine to explore rounding numbers to different places. I wrote on the board a series of numbers, such as:
527 > 530 642 > 640 987 > 990 Students first discussed what they saw. This is simply surfacelevel observations. Then, they discussed what they thought about what they saw. This gets a little deeper into what is happening with these numbers, what the pattern is, or what the "math" behind the numbers is. Then they discussed what they wondered, which gave me a good gauge as to what they knew about rounding and what gaps they had. Students first thought about their response, then discussed with a partner, and then shared with the class. This kept all students engaged in the routine.
I love using the Visible Thinking routines because it's like opening up a student's brain and seeing what is going on inside. These routines also develop ELL's language in math, especially at the discourse level. It also helps students have a clearer understanding of their own thinking.
Check it out for yourself, and leave your experience in the comments! Always thinking, Christi
Guided Math seems like the one of the largest buzz words in mathematics instruction as of late. Just do a Google Search or a Twitter hashtag search, and you can find numerous resources, examples, and professional conversations regarding the Framework.
We (the creators of ZONES Math) have researched the text Guided Math by Laney Sammons and agree with many of the strategies and structures Ms. Sammons suggests. We also encountered the same struggles in our math instruction as Ms. Sammons. The reflection that our whole group math instruction was not reaching all students was also the reason that we created our Framework. However, ZONES Math does go a few steps further than the typical Guided Math classroom. Here is a chart that compares the components of both ZONES Math Framework and a Guided Math Framework.
ZONES vs Guided Math by Olivia on Scribd ZONES Math includes all of the components of a Guided Math Framework. However, there are several areas where ZONES Math exceeds the basic Guided Math Framework outlined in the book. We have gotten such positive feedback from all of the teachers who have implemented ZONES Math. Real teachers understand what really works in a classroom. They understand the essential components that are necessary in math instruction and appreciate the detailed instructions ZONES Math includes. We have received such excitement over the ZONES Math Framework and how it includes all of the best practices in a model that is realistic to implement. Do you need any more reasons to start ZONES Math right now? You should try it, you will love it too! Olivia
If you are thinking about switching from whole group math instruction to a guided math workshop format, here are some more reasons why you should!
1. You are able to support each student at their level of mathematical understanding. This is within their individual activities and in your small group teaching. 2. You are able to teach more directly, and maintain attention, in a small group format. 3. Students engage each day in meaningful learning at their level. 4. Activities can be tailored to each student's needs and learning style. 5. You are able to provide feedback immediately to students on their understanding and work during conferencing. 6. You are able to incorporate each of the standards for mathematical practice in your math block  easily! 7. You will have time for the 'fun' stuff  games, manipulatives, etc. that are so hard to find time for whole group. 7. Your students will be excited about math! 8. It's not as much work and prep as you might be envisioning! 9. You will be able to speak easily to each student's performance in math. 10. You can do it!!! :) Meghan 
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