Reflections and Math Routines


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This year I’ve been using number sense routines* with my 3rd-5th grade classes.  The routines have specifically been put into place to help students strengthen their place value and estimation skills.  The routines last around 5-10 minutes and generally occur during the first part of class  The routines is the first thing on the board as students enter.  Students use a template, complete the routine independently and we discuss the results and process as a class.

Two of the more productive routines this year have been Estimation180 (3rd grade) and Who am I (4th).  Both ask students to use hints or models and then use those visualizations to solve problems.  Students document their thinking on an individual page and then we discuss it as a class through a debrief session.  While working with students this year I noticed that not all students participated to the extend that I’d like.  The conversations were decent and students were engaged, but the reflection piece wasn’t as thorough.  So this year I’ve decided to add an individual reflection component for these specific tasks.  The reasoning actually came from a book that I read back in April that emphasized how sentence stems can be used to help students reflect on their mathematical thinking.


I put these sentence stems into practice and added them to a reflection sheet.  I added extra space after the “because” to help encourage students to write more about their own thinking process.

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Students complete each one of these around 2-3 times a month.  Students complete the reflection sheet, discuss the writing with partners and eventually put them in their folders.  The sheets are revisited throughout the year to see the growth over time.

* The images from this post are from a math routines presentation on 5/3. Feel free to check out the entire presentation here.




A Fourth Grade Math Routine

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I’m a fan of routines.  From waking up at a specific time during the week, to my classroom preparation – routines are part of my life.  Like most teachers, routines are a major part of a classroom ecosystem. These routines can happen anytime, but in my case they generally occur during the beginning and end of class.  I teach concepts from first to sixth grade this year and each classroom has their own math routine.

What do I mean by a math routine?  Well … my version of a math routine is the time that’s spent when students first enter the classroom.  That golden first 10 minutes of class is when I have students work on bell ringer work – aka: my version of a math routine.  Without the routines in place, I find that students are more likely to catchup with one another another and/or I get into conversations with students and time flies.  I’m all about creating a collaborative classroom and touching base with students.  Even with that said, sometimes time gets out of hand when I’m telling stories or  having a whole-class conversation. I’m then redirecting and spending time getting the class back on track.  That causes anxiety and then I feel like I’m playing catchup. Educators know how precious class time is and using it more effectively is forefront on a lot of our minds.

My routines look bit different for each grade level.  Some of the processes are standard and others aren’t.  All my classes enter the classroom, pick up their folders, and check out the agenda that’s posted .  Keep in mind that students trickle in the classroom as I take students from multiple classes.  Some students come early,  while others drop in after a band or orchestra lesson. Then, depending on the class, they have different procedures.  The procedures have changed a bit since I last wrote about this back in July.  This year I’ve started a new procedure for my fourth grade class.

Earlier in the year my fourth students worked on a Dynamath magazine and I’d review the solutions with the class.  This year I decided to change up the process since students were finishing up the magazines at such a quick pace.  So, while perusing the always great  solveme mobiles, I noticed an addition to their website.  Specifically, I noticed a new puzzle section that looked useful.

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After exploring around 10 different puzzles, I started to think of how this could fit into a math routine.  I put together a short student sheet template and introduced the students to it on Monday.

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Similar to my third grader’s Estimation 180 routine, my fourth grade students are completing one question per day.  The questions are like puzzles and involve place value and pre-algebra skills.

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I’m looking forward to using this as new daily routine with my fourth grade classes.  I’ve also been exploring the section involving coding and contemplating whether students will create their own puzzle at some point.

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This might be perfect for the Hour of Code next week.

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