Monday, October 19, 2015

Math Misconceptions

Howdy, peeps!

I have a confession to make... I was not a great math student... At all.
Math was awful for me. A painful subject that I was forced to take for what felt like 87 years....
I think that's why I LOVE teaching it.
I don't EVEREVEREVER want my students to feel like I did. I try to give them a REASON we do the maths. STEPS for the maths. And I try to make my students PROBLEM SOLVERS and MISTAKE FINDERS.

That's when my "Math Misconceptions" pack was born! I wanted to find a way for students to not only solve a problem and find the correct answer, but to also identify common mistakes that are made.

So far I've made three sets: Place Value, Addition and Subtraction with Whole Numbers and Multiplication. I have plans to make more but.... there are also like 20 other ideas floating around in my head. So... yeah. Stay tuned?

Each misconception pack includes 5 math problems. Each problem is solved by 2-3 people - "He", "She" and sometimes "Pup". Each of the characters solve the problem a different way, but only one is right. Students identify the correct person and justify why they're correct. THEN, they identify where the incorrect person/people messed up. It's AWESOME to see my students catch the common mistakes! The discussion these problems stir up is AWESOME. My students can be reluctant to talk about how they solve math problems... but once I got these baby out I couldn't get them to zip it!

Anyway, here are some pics of my students using the Multiplication Misconceptions. Guys, they LOVED it. They BEGGED to do another... I tried to stay calm, "We'll do another tomorrow, guys" but inside I was JUMPING for JOY!

SO IMPRESSED by my hard working kiddos!!

Do you address the incorrect answers along with the correct answers? I'd love to hear about how you deal with math misconceptions in your classroom!

Saturday, October 3, 2015


My sweet 4th graders are really having a hard time wrapping their head around inferences. 
And I felt my self turing into an inferencing GRUMP. "What can you INFER, guys?? LOOK FOR CLUES!!" 
I knew there needed to be a change....  

Every morning, our school has us write a Morning Message to our kiddos. As they walk in, they grab their breakfast (we eat breakfast in our rooms... so weird, I know) and check out what's on the board. Not going to lie, my first thought when I heard we have to put up a Morning Message was, "Seriously??? One more thing to do??" but I have realized I LOVE morning messages. And by golly, if there's a day I forget to write one my kiddos ask for it!! So I decided to combine inferencing with our morning message. 

I defined an inference, gave the kiddos a scenario, had a bag of evidence and was ready to watch my kids ROCK OUT INFERENCING!! (Side note: Not pictured is the sentence stem, "I can infer that your BFF is _________ because ___________ .)

I just knew the dirty kleenexes, the Mucus relief medicine (we discussed what mucus was) and the Vitamin C (and the fact that they knew I was sick -they had all been asking me if I was ok the day before when they heard my sick voice - they are ANGELS, y'all) was going to lead to light bulbs in their sweet little brains and inferencing would be a problem of the past!!

My plan halfway worked. The kids were SO STOKED to check out the inferencing bag. I heard their excited whispers as they wrote down their inference. I heard angels singing from the heavens. I picked up their sticky notes and began reading......... and the angels stopped singing. 
"I can infer that your BFF is nice because she's your friend"
"I can infer that your BFF is funny because she tells jokes"
Y'all, out of 23 kids, 3 inferred that my friend was sick. I was so bummed. Another inferencing FAIL! 

I went home to my hubby and retold the story. He told me my inference bag contained too much of an inference. HUH. He told me my evidence needed to be WAAAY more obvious. At first I hesitated because UH HELLO, what does he know - he's not a teacher AND it's not like the kid's state test at the end of the year would contain an obvious inference... But I tried it anyway. 

I totally forgot to take a pic, but I grabbed everything orange, black and halloween themed that I could find and put it into a gallon size bag (pumpkin cookie cutters, halloween pencils, a ghost with an orange and black outfit, a black and orange halloween bag). The next day we tried again. The board read, "Yesterday I decorated my house for an upcoming holiday. Make an inference about what holiday I decorated for. STEM: I can infer you decorated for ______ because _______." Kids read it, giggled at the bag, wrote on their sticky note and BOOM! 21/23 made a correct inference. HALLOWEEN! A few kids still weren't getting it but I was making progress! 

Now, EVERY THURSDAY is "Think about it Thursday" and I give my kiddos a scenario that requires them to make an inference. This Thursday I put a receipt and some change in a bag. MY LITTLE BOOS MADE FANTASTIC INFERENCES!
"I can infer that you went to the store because there's a recet (receipt)."
"I can infer that you went grocery shopping because there's a recit (receipt) and money."
23/23 had it, y'all!! WOOOOOT! And now I know we need to work on spelling receipt!! 

I hope you love this idea! Do you think it could be something you use in your classroom? Do you already use something like this in your classroom? Do you have ideas for what else I can include in my bags? Help a teacher out! I'm running low on ideas.... 

I also want to encourage you to do a Morning Message for your kiddos!! They other day we were working on poetry and my message was something like "Sometimes poems have a rhyming pattern. Give me example of rhyming words." It was a TOTALLY last minute message but I was able to see that 3 kids in my class don't know what rhyming words are. It's SUCH an easy way to pinpoint gaps in your kiddos learning!! 


Thursday, October 1, 2015


Linking up with Farley (a fellow Texan - woot!) for an October Currently!

I haven't done a Currently in years (I'm an awful blogger... EEK) but I saw this October themed one and OMG I HAD TO!

I love Farley, love Currently-s and LOVE OCTOBER! (and not just because it's my birthday month!

Be sure to link up with your own currently HERE!