Sunday, May 10, 2015

#1stchat Summer 2015 Book Chat

Our summer Book Chat will be on What Connected Educators Do Differently by Todd Whitaker, Jeffrey Zoul and Jimmy Casas.  We are excited to announce Jeff and Jimmy agreeing to be a moderator for the book chat! The book chats will meet on Sunday nights at 8 p.m. EST.  Please refer to the chat schedule below for dates and Key Connector chapters:

Sunday, July 26 - Key Connector 1 & 2 moderated by Jeffrey Zoul @Jeff_Zoul 
Sunday, August 2 - Key Connector 3 & 4 moderated by Jimmy Casas @casas_jimmy
Sunday, August 9 - Key Connector 5 & 6 moderated by Sara Malchow @smalchow
Sunday August 16 - Key Connector 7 & 8 moderated by Val Ruckes @valruckes  & Leka DeGroot @lekadegroot

This is a #1stchat event, however, all are welcome!  We would love for you to join us.  We will also archive these chats to make them available for review later or for anyone who is unable to participate on one or all of the above dates.

Thanks in advance to the moderators who agreed to host one of the Book Chat dates.  #1stchat provides a powerful PD opportunity because of our incredible PLN.

Monday, July 7, 2014

#1stchat Summer 2014 Book Chat

Product Details

Our summer Book Chat will be on Guided Math:  A Framework for Mathematics Instruction by Laney Sammons.  The book chats will meet on Sunday nights at 8 p.m. EST.  Please refer to the chat schedule below for dates and chapters:

July 13th - Chapters 1 & 2 Moderated by @valruckes
July 20th - Chapters 3 & 4  Moderated by @jag7585
July 27th - Chapters 5 & 6 Moderated by @lekadegroot
August 3rd - Chapters 7, 8, 9 Moderated by @ShannonDescamps

Additionally, please follow the moderators on Twitter to ensure that you see the questions as they are tweeted during the chat.  We will use the Q1 and A1 format for tweeting questions and answers.  Please use the #1stchat hash tag in all your tweets.  Using sites like or are helpful when participating in chats.  These sites will add the hast tag for you.

This is a #1stchat event, however, all are welcome!  We would love for you to join us.  We will also archive these chats to make them available for review later or for anyone who is unable to participate on one or all of the above dates.

Thanks in advance to the moderators who agreed to host one of the Book Chat dates.  #1stchat provides a powerful PD opportunity because of our incredible PLN.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Math Chat #1stchat Style!

All of us here cannot say enough good things about our PLN on Twitter.  I look forward to every Sunday to chat with my awesome teachers at #1stchat.  They all motivate and inspire me to reflect on my teaching and become better every day.  We have covered so many topics throughout the school year.  Now #1stchat is officially on a summer break, however, many of us continue to discuss what's on our mind on Twitter (of course, for some of you the school year is not over yet!).

A week or so ago, some of us started talking about math apps and math instructions in general.  I felt a need to organize a chat to discuss math further.  However, we all have a busy schedule during summer, so I've decided to have an on-going chat on Padlet. We have never done this before, but why not give it a try?? 

Please use your Twitter handle as a name on your post (with @).  If you want to ask a question to a specific person, you can post it on the wall or tweet the question by clicking on the post.  

Again, this is totally new, and I don't know how it works... but let's see what kind of ideas we will gather here!

Leka DeGroot (@slfirstgrade)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

How My Learning Environment Has Evolved

Over the course of the last 4 years I have transformed as an educator.  I previously was a kindergarten teacher, who taught routines and was fearful of change and what it meant to our routines. I then began teaching grade 1 and wanted to change the way I delivered my message more over I wanted learning to be enriched.

There have been 4 contributing factors to the change of the environment in my classroom.  My mindset, my students’ mindset, the social space and the physical space.

It is my goal as an educator to foster discovery and reflection through the dialogue and sharing of ideas. Our classroom learning space stems from this goal:  Our entire space was designed as a free and open area where learning is facilitated by student need.

The iPad cart is open for students to freely use to update their blogs and select the application that serves their learning need.  Our room is equipped with a projector, and an Apple TV so student creations can be shared with each other, with other classes and worldwide.

In order to have a positive social environment, I honor student voice and model positive interpersonal relationships.   I empower students by facilitating their learning through collaboration with each other and me.  Students in my class feel a sense of belonging in our classroom community.  This empowers them to take risks and explore new ideas.  My students have been taught to listen carefully to each other.

Students are given problems that are relevant and important to them.  Students often need to collaborate with outside experts through Skype or Google Hangout.   My students also use collaborative tools like wikis, and blogs.  By giving them the choice on what they learn about, they are intellectually engaged.  I center our learning goals on the big ideas and key concepts across the curriculum areas rather than limiting the students to one topic or curriculum expectation.  Learning is art, science, physical and virtual, local and global.

My students come to me as technology consumers.  My job is to teach them how to become content creators.  Many of my students have iPads or iPods at home already.  They expect learning to be fun.  My students come to me with curiosity and I embrace that curiosity through project based and inquiry based learning. 

I strive to inspire and develop the skills necessary for my students to succeed in the 21st century.  My students are encouraged to create, collaborate, communicate and motivate in my classroom.
If you step into my classroom you will quickly find out that we are a classroom with no walls.  Video conferencing, blogging, creating videos and books, teaching and learning from other peers in the classroom, in the school and in the world about what they are interested in is embedded into the daily instruction of my classroom.  The results of this purposeful connectivity is that my group of grade1/2 students have begun to develop a global perspective of issues that could not have been authentically discovered if they were solely engaged in books in our classroom.

I have not done this alone.   I have a personal learning network of many like-minded educators who I have sustained learning relationships with.  My students embrace change and I embrace change. As my teaching methods and the technologies I use continue to evolve, the transformation of my learning environment will continue as a journey, not a destination.

 Guest post by Kristen Wideen

Kristen Wideen is a grade 1/2 teacher in Windsor, Ontario.  She loves collaborating with others and incorporting technology into her teaching.  You can find her on Twitter @mrswideen or her professional blog

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Number Talks

Number Talks...
the journey IS the destination

My journey into number talks began at a conference a couple of years ago. That particular day, I was so excited (I LOVE nerdy math days), however, when the presenter opened by telling us that we would be spending ALL day focusing on “Number Talks,” I thought to myself, what can I possibly learn? I already do this in my classroom....let the doodling begin.....

Halfway through my first flower, (I can’t draw much else) as I listened to the presenter, I realized I couldn’t have been more wrong! I had A LOT to learn!

I consider myself a very constructivist- learning math teacher. I love to have the students cooperatively problem solving, sharing strategies, and really developing a strong foundation of mathematical concepts. To me, sharing strategies WAS a number talk, I mean we were talking about numbers, right? After reading Sherry Parrish’s book Number Talks, watching her DVD examples and currently utilizing them as a part of my daily math routine, I realize that there is an enormous difference between just talking about numbers and conducting a Number Talk.

First, a little background on the premise behind Parrish’s “Number Talks.” A number talk is a short, ongoing classroom routine that provides students with meaningful computation practice. It is designed to be a 5 - 15 minute conversation around purposely crafted computation problems. The daily use of number talks is implemented to develop mental computation, encourage the use of number relationships to solve problems, and increase students’ fluency with numbers. As we all know, fluency with small numbers is the foundation for later success with larger number computation with understanding.

In Number Talks, Parrish states that teachers should start with smaller problems to elicit thinking from multiple perspectives, using arrangements of dots (or other images) is a perfect place to begin.
These images are important tools in helping students build a visual link to composing and decomposing numbers. The sequencing of the images allows students to apply the strategies from a previous problem to subsequent problems.

So, what does it look like in the classroom?

Math class begins and the students are all seated on the carpet facing the teacher. The teacher flashes dot image Card A (either on the SMARTboard or on a card) for @2-3 seconds (not much longer, because you do not want them to count, you want them to visualize and subitize the numbers).

Example Dot Image Card A: Example Dot Image Card B:

The teacher asks the students “How many dots were there?” Students give a thumbs up sign when they have an answer. The teacher flashes the image one more time for revision. Students quietly share their thinking with their partner and focus attention back to the teacher. The teacher takes answers from the students, listing ALL of the answers on the board, correct or incorrect. The teachers says, “It looks like we have several ideas. As we share, let’s see which of these ideas we need to revise. Who would like to try to explain their answer first?” As students respond, the teacher asks questions such as, “How did you count to get the total?” “How did you see the (dots or picture)?”

The teacher follows with Dot Image Card B, following the same process and reinforcing student answers that make a connection to Card A.

At first it may seem a bit simple, however when you plan and construct the problems carefully with a mathematical goal in mind, the possibilities are endless.

What do we hear the students saying during a number talk?

When shown Card A, students may say, “I know there were 5 dots because it is four and one more” (counting on) or “If you move the one dot over it makes a 5, like on a dice.” (subitizing)

For Card B, they may use the same reasonings, ”It is 5 because it is 3 and 2 more” or “If you move the two over it makes a 5.” They may also make connections to the previous card and say “It is still 5, one dot just moved over to the other side.” (conservation of numbers) All of these strategies are integral in counting, cardinality and building a strong foundation of the Common Core Standards in Operations and Algebraic Reasoning. In their discussions, they are also creating mathematical arguments as described in the CCSS Mathematical Practices.

Number Talks are not just constricted to dot or image arrangement, they can also be used with ten frames and numeric expressions, based on the needs of your students. By learning to build number
relationships, students can move into addition and subtraction with this same number sense. Having a solid understanding of counting on, subitizing, and conservation, students will move into addition/subtraction equations with the same reasoning. For example, When solving 4 + 2 can easily see that one dot moving over to make the 4 a 5 and one more would make six. Or they can see the four dots and count on to make 6. They can continue to make those connections when adding 9
to any number: 6 + 9 = ( 5 + 1 ) + 9 = 5 + ( 1 + 9 ) = 5 + 10 = 15.

I have looked everywhere online to find an example to demonstrate an exemplary Number Talk in the classroom and while I couldn’t find one as good as the DVD that comes with Parrish’s book, this one is a good Kindergarten example:

So, needless to say I am a HUGE proponent of TRUE, well-constructed, purposeful number talks. As I realized, there is a big difference between just talking about numbers and having a mathematical goal in mind to help students build mathematical relationships.

If you would like some examples of number talks to try, or have any questions about starting them in your classroom, I would love to chat about them with you. You can tweet @MathMinds or visit us here on FB.

Here is the book that inspired our journey:

Thank you #1stchat blog for having us! We truly appreciate the opportunity!
By: Kristin, @MathMinds

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Cat's Out of the Bag!

Hello #1stchat friends and all of you out there in blogger land!
A special thank you to Laura Komos and Val Ruckes for hosting the 1stchat blog
and allowing me to be a guest writer!
First Grade Rocks!

I'm letting you in on a secret today about some great news! But before I get to the news, I have some stories to tell.

As a classroom teacher, I began the year reading the Pete the Cat stories, I Love My White Shoes, and Rocking in My School Shoes. My class begged me to read them over and over. They love singing Pete's songs. Then, Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons came out and we got that and read it too. As we talked about during our Sunday evening #1stchats, kids really love the Pete stories. Then, Pete the Cat Saves Christmas came out in late September. The kids love this Pete the Cat just as much as the other 3.
November was Picture Book Month and my class voted for Pete the Cat, I Love My White Shoes, as their favorite book of the year so far. Whenever we read it, we keep walking along and singing Pete's song. Seriously, if you've heard the songs before, you know what I mean. If you haven't heard them yet, you can go to the HarperCollins Books Website and download them for free. 

HarperCollins Featuring Pete the Cat

And now, to let the "Cat out of the Bag!" Pete is going to be featured in "I Can Read" Books. The first 2 titles (Pete's Big Lunch and Play Ball) are due out in late February, and the third title (Pete at the Beach) is due out in May. I am looking forward to sharing these books with my students as I know they will "eat them up". As it is right now, whenever they have Daily 5 Read to Self or Read to Someone, the Pete books are always what they want to read first. I wonder if and hope that the easy readers will be a big hit with my students...How do you think your students will react to the Pete the Cat Easy Readers?
And now, the cat's (Pete) out of the bag!
It's all good!

Amy Rudd is a proud learner, wife, mommy of two, a reader, a writer.  She is currently teaching first grade in Akron, Ohio.  You can find her on Twitter @aruddteacher100 or on her blog-

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Welcome to our new blog!

As I was reading through my Twitter feed the other day, I was marveling at the #Kinderchat and #NerdyBookClub posts from each of their blogs. How incredible to have a place where "members" can all share their thoughts, ideas, and passion in a longer format! And then I started wondering why #1stchat couldn't do the same thing, so I immediately emailed my wonderful co-host Val... and our blog was born.

We can make this our own, in any way we'd like. My original idea was to have guest posts, similar to how other group blogs do it. However, I am open to any and all ideas from our amazing PLN! As people begin using our blog, I'm sure we will come up with new ways and new ideas to add to it. We will still keep our wiki up and running, as that is a great place for people to contribute and find our archives.

If you are interested in contributing posts to our blog, please fill out this form (which is also linked at the top of our blog.) You'll be contacted via Twitter or email with more specifics on how to submit your finished piece(s.)

Yay!! I'm super excited to get this new ball rolling! I hope you'll join in the fun of stretching our thinking, improving our teaching craft, and connecting with other professionals in the name of learning.

~Laura Komos