Godzilla Gazette, 3

Week of September 7, 2015


  • From Grace
  • The Reflective Practitioner
  • Weekly Team Planning Link
  • Weekly Events
  • For Your Information

From Grace

Aloha, everyone! We're heading into the third week of school and it's clear to me that the students are settling into the routines. Huge thanks to all for teaching our Four Guidelines for Success and common area expectations. Let's remember to continue to practice, reinforce, and acknowledge students for demonstrating these positive traits and behaviors. Kudos too to all the Maker activities happening around the building - I've noticed students who are engaged and felt the excitement in the building. Real world academic skills are blossoming all around - Awesome!!

Speaking of academic skills, this week's Gazette focuses on mathematics instruction. The Reflective Practitioner comes from a blog that is new to me - Mr. Elementary Math - and has some ready to use strategies to help our students build up number sense, the foundation to mathematical learning. For a deeper dive into mathematical instruction, I'm sending out a white paper about teaching our more challenging standards with rigorous instruction. This summer, at Harvard, I heard instruction compared to diet - we must feed our kids a rich and robust diet of quality food if we want them to thrive. Read as a team and talk about ways to add high quality rigor into our lessons.

And now a few reminders and important information:

  • For Teams - make sure your team meetings get entered on the Mathews123 calendar and fill out the weekly planning document.
  • Online Math Accounts: Think Through Math is up and running for 3rd-6th grade teachers. Your kids are in the system; please let me know if you need help getting started. DreamBox is also set up and ready to go! All students K-6th have accounts and are ready to go. Again, let me know if you need help getting started. We'll have some after-school training sessions set up soon.
  • Achieve 3000 and iStation will be ready soon - I'll keep you posted on progress.
  • PDAS - If you haven't already done so, please turn in PDAS Self-Report, part I (can be found on the shared drive). It's also time to schedule formal observations - please let me know a few dates/times you'd like me to come in between now and October. I'm looking forward to visiting!
  • Back to School: Reminder to please mention Making, design thinking, and the growth mindset (AKA - learning from errors, always improving), along with SEL and our Guidelines for Success during Back to School Night.
  • FYI - I've formally requested additional staff assistance for both 5th grade and Special Education. District-wide leveling begins this week; I'll keep you posted.

Have a wonderful third week of school. There's a lot to do, but many of us to help each other. Enjoy your classroom and school-wide Ohana. We are strong!

The Reflective Pracitioner

Buzz Worthy Ideas - 3 Math Routines to Build Number Sense

By Greg Coleman (Mr. Elementary Math)


Who would have thought that the summer would go by so quickly? With Back to School Night, Curriculum Night, PTA meetings, reading and math assessments, bulletin boards and one-on-one parent conferences, do you need yet another thing to do? I hear the answer NO, loud and clear. Today, I've joined forces with several wonderful teacher bloggers to help make your Back to School transition smooth.

I've been back to school for about 1 month. Yes, 1 month! During that time I realized that many students are having great difficulty counting and understanding number relationships with numbers beyond 100. According to the common core standards, students in the 1st grade should be able to count to 120. By 2nd grade students are expected to understand multi-digit numbers up to 1,000. For struggling students, there is a huge number sense gap that needs to be filled.

After seeing the need to build number sense in students this year, I wanted to share 3 math routines that has helped me in the past.

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Many of the routines are counting sequences that will ultimately help your students better understand relationships among numbers.

What is the Number Bounce Routine?
The Number Bounce Routine is a quick counting routine in which students and teachers count forward and backward in a given sequence.

How does the Number Bounce Routine Work?
Begin this routine by telling your students that you will count forward or backward by ones starting with a specific number and ending with a specific number. Let your students know that when you tap them, they will have to say the next number. Here is one example using the start number 213 and the end number 235. I start counting forward by ones like: 213, 214, 215, 216. Next I tap a student on the shoulder. The student says 217. Then I continue counting: 218, 219, 220. I tap a different student. The student says 221. I continue to count in this way until I have given most of the students an opportunity to answer. The student who says the last number in the sequence says, "235. Bounce" and gets the opportunity to do a 20-second celebratory dance.

I especially like this routine because my students are very attentive. They all want to say "Bounce" and dance. This is powerful routine to practice counting forwards and backwards. It is pretty simple and offers flexibility.

Modify this Routine with Decimals and Fractions

This routine also works well for fractions and decimals. Since decimals are pretty difficult for students it is critical that we infuse this type of counting method. Check out the example below:

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What is the Base Ten Toss Routine?

The Base Ten Toss Routine is a quick counting routine that includes counting using place value language. It is intended to build base ten language and ultimately foster place value understandings.

How does the Base Ten Toss Routine work?

A beach ball or bean bag is recommended when implementing this routine. Begin this routine by telling your students that they will count in base ten language until they reach a base ten decade with no ones (example: 3 tens 0 ones or 30, 4 tens 0 ones or 40).

For this routine, students stand in a circle. After one student counts in base ten language (ex. 7 tens 5 ones...75), he or she passes a beach ball or bean bag to the person standing next to them. When a student says a base ten decade with no ones (ex. 8 tens 0 ones...80) they get the opportunity to toss the beach ball to any classmate of their choice. My students love that part of the game! For more details, check out the illustration below.

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Modify this routine with Larger Numbers and Decimals

This routine works for larger numbers and decimals as well. Students can add on hundreds (ex. 6 hundreds 9 tens and 8 ones...698) or hundredths (ex. 6 tens 7 ones and 37 hundredths...67.37). For more of a challenge, they can count backwards.

How long will the Base Ten Routine take?
This routine should around 5 - 10 minutes. It can be used anytime during the day when students need to get out the wiggles or as a daily opening to your math lesson.
What is the Amazing Race Routine?
This routine is intended to help students break down numbers in various ways.

How does the Amazing Race Routine work?
Students work in pairs to decompose a given number in as many different ways as they can. You should provide each partner pair with a blank piece of paper or sheet like the one in the photo. The students are given 5 minutes to record as many different ways to represent the number as possible. After the time is up, 1 or 2 partner pairs are randomly called to the front of the room to share what they discovered and recorded. I would award team points to partner pairs that had the most ways, but checking for accuracy is critical.

Click on the photo for a FREE download. There is one for younger children (big circles) and older children (smaller circles).
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I really enjoy this activity because my students had an opportunity to communicate their mathematical thinking with one another. This is also a very open-ended routine. Students get a chance to be as creative as possible when recording. There were times when I was reviewing my students answers and thought, I would have never came up with that!

When you first start this routine, your students may only have 2 or 3 different ways. That is okay..... If you consistently utilize this routine your students will evolve and ultimately fill the page!

Use this Routine with Fractions and Decimals
This routine can easily be adapted to fractions or decimals. For example, you can write 7/10 or 0.7 as the number of the day.

How long will the Amazing Race Routine take?

This routine should around 5 - 10 minutes. It can be used as a daily opening to your math block or as a morning sponge activity.

Weekly Team Planning Template Link

Weekly Events

Monday, September 7, 2015

  • Labor Day Holiday - No School! :)

Tuesday, September 8, 2015 - B Day

  • TPRI/Tejas Lee and DRA Testing Window Opens - 1st and 2nd Grades
  • Courage in Action - 9:00 am - 5th Grade - Chad and Diana
  • Problem-Solving Meeting - 12:20 pm - Rm. 209 - Margaret, Diana, Chad, Grace

Wednesday, September 9, 2015 - C Day

  • Parent Meeting - 8:00 am - Office - Grace
  • Courage in Action - 9:00 am - 5th Grade - Chad and Diana
  • 504 Meeting - 2:00 pm - Office - Robin, Katherine, Elise, Grace

Thursday, September 10, 2015 - A Day

  • ARD - 8:00 am - Office - Margaret, Diana, Grace
  • Courage in Action - 9:00 am - 5th Grade - Chad and Diana
  • CST - 11:00 am - Office - Vivian, Elise, Robin, Grace
  • ARD - 1:55 pm - Learning Lab 1 - Janie, Kirstie, Grace
  • Back to School Night! - 5:30 pm - Classrooms - 3rd-6th Grades

Friday, September 11, 2015 - B Day

  • Assembly - 7:45 am - Gym - All
  • Principal's Coffee - 8:00 - 9:00 am - Library - Grace
  • Courage in Action - 9:00 am - 5th Grade - Chad and Diana

For Your Information


  • If you need something, ask.
  • Remember to take attendance daily on TEAMS.
  • Arrive and pick up your class from special areas on time - respect each other's time.
  • Ensure 504, IEP, ELL, and Gifted Accommodations are being followed
  • Actively supervise your students - Spread out at recess to monitor each area.
  • Check our calendar for important events
  • Try something new and have fun!

Kudos: Do you know of something good? Share it with Grace to be included here or write it in the comments below!

  • To Steve, Amy, Jennifer, Jud, Robin, Elise, Brett, Anne Marie, and Janie for organizing activities and taking care of our students on Back to School Night!
  • To Ernest and Angelica for staying late to make sure the building is clean after Back to School Night!
  • To Becky, Nicole, Paula, Alma, Sharon, Suzie, Angela, Monica, and Sicily for a successful Back to School Night!
  • To Janie for all of her help the last two weeks with morning arrival!
  • To Margaret and Janie for working diligently to ensure all their students' needs are met with the influx of new students!
  • To Kirstie, Katherine, Vivian, Lauren, Claudia, Stephanie, Diana McM, Thelma, Corinda, and Diana McG for completing the online planning document on time - way to go TEAM!
  • From Jennifer: To Natalie Grigson, an awesome volunteer teaching our artists about comic books! Say thanks if you see her in the building!

Upcoming Events:

  • Labor Day School Holiday - September 7th
  • 3rd - 6th Grade Back to School Night - September 10th
  • Austin Book Arts Center Open House - September 12th
  • 100th Celebration Planning Meeting- September 23rd
  • CAC Meeting - September 24th
  • Austin Jazz Workshop - October 8th

Website to Explore:

  • SchoolNet - There are always a few too many clicks for SchoolnNet to be easy to use, but there are valuable resources within the system. So warm up you index finger and see what's there. From Julie Burdick: Follow the steps below to find a Gold Mine of math resources - aligned to our curriculum. Oh Yea!
  1. My Classroom:
  2. Blue Link Grade _ Math
  3. Curriculum Page - click on CRM
  4. There is a Blue Link for Vocabulary Cards (SUPER IMPORTANT)
  5. Scroll down to the blue link towards the bottom: Click on Exemplar Lesson and Instructional Resources Zip File
  6. Click on Resources Folder (Dual Language, Exemplar Lessons, Instructional Resources, etc....)
  7. Click on Instructional Resources Folder to find Reinforcement Activities and Suggested Pacing Guides
  8. Click on Suggested Pacing Guides to find the Gold Mine: Exemplar links, Reinforcement links, every resource we are supposed to have and where topics for the CRMs are addressed
  9. And more -

Have fun exploring!