Slice of the Pi

May Edition

The past is to be learned from but not lived in.

We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes.

And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead toward the future.

Jeffrey R. Holland

And the countdown begins...

Thinking back to this time last year, it is hard to imagine the sheer magnitude of all that has been accomplished. The professional learning, the number of firsts, and the community building as we all realized- I can't do this alone.

And now, there are only 26 days left! As one year comes to a close, and we start thinking about all the possibilities for September, I wanted to share the Math Learning Center guidance around addressing students’ learning needs.

Students will start the 2021–22 school year with a wide spectrum of mathematical experiences from the previous year, as well as varying levels of readiness. We continue to draw upon guidance and recommendations from a variety of sources to develop an approach that supports students’ engagement with the major work of the grade. Unit screeners and activities for reengagement are designed to help you assess and address potential areas of need as they arise during the year. We will take an accelerated learning approach over traditional remediation.

We do not know all that the fall will bring, but instructional time may continue to be limited for a variety of reasons. Although not as significant as the changes from this year, MLC is providing a Scope & Sequence with suggestions for modules to skip if necessary. They will continue to suggest using the unit screeners in place of pre-assessments as a diagnostic tool to help identify concepts and skills students have in place, and areas where they may need support.

Below you'll find the 2021-2022 Scope & Sequence for your grade level. We are currently working on PD plans for August, and we will have time to explore this in greater detail together then! If you have any questions before that- reach out and we will connect!

Grade 1
Grade 2
Grade 3
Grade 4
Grade 5

There is nothing to fear because I can not fail. I can only learn, grow, become better.

Hal Elrod

Individual Math Kits

The individual math kits you used this year can be collected from families and stored in a way that is most beneficial and convenient to you. If you want to keep them together- great! Want to pull them apart and add the supplies to your existing materials- great! Want to keep a few together and pull a few apart- great!

Planning > Pacing

I remember a time when my math planning consisted of matching up the number of sessions in each Trailblazers lesson with the number of instructional days- then reading each lesson and neatly copying the objectives and materials in my plan book. Anyone else remember bits, skinnies, and flats??

Then we transitioned to a homegrown math program and planning was much more involved, although still focused on selecting the activity for the day and mapping out how long to spend on each topic to be sure I covered it all by June.

Enter Bridges! Those first few years were a blur sifting through binders, flipping between the pages in Number Corner (why aren't they in order?!) and looking at manipulatives called by new names. Each lesson was several pages long and I felt successful just getting through the steps. Phew- I taught it!

But as I became more comfortable with the nuts and bolts of the program, and had a chance to catch my breath, I found myself wondering if there was a way to make the math my own- for my class, with my style, to meet the needs of MY students...

This role has gifted the me the opportunity to dig into math research and best practices from the field. I have discovered so many high yield routines and small teacher moves that can have big impact! I continue to learn from articles, journals, speakers, books, webinars and YOU. And I look back knowing there is so much I would have done differently. But I am happy about that. I hope to always be able to reflect and say, I did my best then, but my best now is better.

If you are interested in making a change, troubleshooting an idea, implementing a new routine, or making any aspect of your planning practice even better- email me! I'd love to be part of your magic!

Hesitant to start with the craziness of this year? Take it from your colleagues!

Due to the unusual circumstances this year, I hesitated to take you up on your offer to work with me at first. However, it's been such a positive experience!
Thanks to you, I've begun to allow myself to try new things and truly focus on teaching the student rather than the Bridges program. It's been so great to observe kids while you've taught lessons, to discuss teaching practices with you, and to try out new ideas on my own. Mostly, I love teaching math in a more creative way. Many of the things we've explored lend themselves to all subject areas. I appreciate that you've taken the time to support me as a teacher, in such a supportive and nonjudgmental way and I hope others take you up on this as well!

I feel so fortunate to have recently worked with you and Jay to plan across grades. Your input on the progressions and enthusiasm for mathematics and student learning has made our discourse invaluable to my instruction.

My two week planning cycle provided a multitude of opportunities to my fourth grade students that they otherwise would not have experienced. We structured my math workshop time by facilitating meaningful stations (pinpointed our needs through varied assessments) while still teaching my scheduled mini lesson. We cocrafted a gallery walk and stations with engaging tasks focused on the major work of the grade. Throughout this process my students expressed a love for the work and the structure of working with a group of mathematicians instead of alone or with a partner. My students benefitted from my planning with more time to talk numbers and push their thinking!

Even with Covid - my math curriculum is better because of our shared insights and ideas!

In the words of recent NCTM president Robert Berry,

"We are truly wonderful, and getting better!"

Big picture

Disciplinary Literacy

I recently read an interesting article from ASCD about literacy across the content areas that I thought you might like as you look to make the most of each minute of instructional time!

Disciplinary literacy takes a turn away from isolated content-area strategies and clarifies what teachers can do to help their students learn in a more effective way. It respects the varied ways that students read, reason, write, think, speak, and, most important, participate in specific content areas. Researcher Elizabeth Moje (2010) deepens the definition by arguing that disciplinary learning doesn't just build knowledge but actually produces or constructs it.

When Mathematicians read, they

  • Use information to piece together a solution
  • Look for patterns and relationships
  • Decipher symbols and abstract ideas
  • Ask questions
  • Apply mathematical reasoning

When Mathematicians write, they

  • Explain, justify, describe, estimate or analyze
  • Favor calculations over words
  • Use precise vocabulary
  • Include reasons and examples
  • Utilize real-word situations

When Mathematicians think, they

  • Consider patterns
  • Utilize previous understandings
  • Find connections
  • Estimate, generalize, and find exceptions
  • Employ mathematical principles

Check out this link for more examples across your content!

Dear Family,

Every Wednesday at 3:30pm, students in 4th grade & above are invited to spend an hour online working on engaging math problems hand-selected by the National Museum of Mathematics advisory council of math PhDs. Sign up at

Looking for growth mindset materials to share with families? Here is a handout and a link to a helpful blog post!

Miss a previous issue?

April 20-21: Slice of the Pi

March 20-21: Slice of the Pi

February 20-21: Slice of the Pi

January 20-21: Slice of the Pi

December 20-21: Slice of the Pi

November 20-21: Slice of the Pi

October 20-21: Slice of the Pi

September 20-21: Slice of the Pi

Questions? Comments? Curiosities?

I'd love to hear what's on your mind!