If you're as bad as me at staff developments you see some great ideas and immediately want to try them out. Which translates into DollarStore Run!

My Coordinator had these great little 3x5 corkboard picture frames with the Station Labels attached to them. I had to get them and of course couldn't find exactly what I wanted. I did grab some 3x5 frames with a shadowbox effect. I removed the glass and cut up some scrapbook papers to color coordinate with my table colors (red, blue, green, purple). I have table buckets in these colors to keep materials organized. I have even spray painted the backs of my student white boards to coordinate as well.

Yesterday I noticed that the Coordinator picked out one or two students to highlight for each activity. I found these great small plastic traffic cones printed with "Great Job!" "Awesome!" or "Way to Go!" I grabbed a couple of these to give out at each table to "Make You Famous" and know who to call on when I need a student to explain. I will watch for the student who mostly seems to understand the math behind the concept to give this award to.

I also grabbed some Mardi Gras beads - 8 for a $1 with colors that coordinate with my tables. When the students arrive for my class next week I am going to ask them to select a color and sit at that table as a means of separating my groups on the first day. I will then assign tables according to ability for the next two days. This requires some quick assessment of these new students as they work through the math activities on Day One.

Now, on for today's Math Work:

Focus - Variables - a symbol that takes place of the unknown

We started with Math Vocabulary and worked through their definitions. Another estimation from this great site called Estimation 180. It has enough for EVERY day of the school year...umm, hence the name, right?

We worked through another set of Number Talks. Today the strand was Doubling and Halving where the students will try to break apart or 'decompose' one of the factors - 3 x 2 x 6 - to make it easier to handle. My Fourth Graders haven't been introduced to PEMDAS, so that conversation didn't come up. The students did fine with this and even with the Commutative Property problem. What caused them trouble was when we extended it to a four digit expression - 6 x 6 x 2 x 12. They started zoning out and were not confident in their strategies. We moved on after some extended Wait Time. Remember - Today is not the time to teach new concepts.

Currently, we are working through some Multiplicative Comparison Problems. Asking the students to discuss what they already know and what they need to know gives them a focus. The problems were picked because they included skills that the students should already posses, they required them to explain or prove their thinking, and included an engaging portion that activates what they will be learning in an upcoming lesson.

There is an Activating Question first, kind of a We Do. A Teach Question, like an I do. Then an Active Engagement Question, You Do. Students need to talk out what they already know and what is the question asking us to solve. Can they write an equation? You can refer back to the Anchor Chart to help them understand that words like 'is' and 'times' translate into math symbols. We want to get the students to be thinking about the 'variables.' They can use their number lines to show the sets from the problems.

We moved into Workstations next. There are four and students are given 20 minutes at each. There is an

*I\ndependent*station where students work with pencil paper questions. There's a

*Group*Work station where they are to discuss with each other how to approach and solve the problems provided. The

*Teacher*Led Workstation has three Multiplicative Comparison problems that uses the same numbers each time, however you are guiding the students to see that the product will NOT always be the same. Students are given permission to use number lines, white boards, and snap cubes to help them solve. The

*computer*station uses MathPlayground to check their understanding of multi-step word problems. Students work independently here and if they finish early they can choose a different game from this site to work on.

We started a Three Act Task. If you aren't familiar with teaching method, I'm going to give you some homework to research it before tomorrow's blog post.

See you then!