>How to Structure a Weekly Math Program (A Most General Approach … + Picture Books)


One Way to Structure a Weekly Math Program (A Most General Approach … + Picture Books)

Q: Hi Ally,
I am having difficulty structuring my Math program so that everything gets done. For example, I sometimes feel that problem solving skills aren’t addressed and developed as much or as often as I would like them to be.

Well, if you were a fly on my classroom wall you would see that I have structured my program in the following way. I hope that you find this breakdown useful!
PS You know, in the early days of my career I often found myself trying to do too much in too fast! 

Really, as a teachers the onus is on us to listen to our students and find that “perfect” balance between a student directed program (e.g. based on their strengthens and needs) and covering the assigned curriculum. As a result, I often seem to find myself repeating (as if out loud): “What are my students trying to tell me?, “Slow and steady wins the race.” & “Slow down in order to speed up.”.

Weekly Math Schedule:


Math Minute; Whole Class Mini Lesson (concept); Centres.
Math Minute; Whole Class Mini Lesson (concept); Centres.
Problem Solving. Review the “steps” (e.g.http://bit.ly/cFkZwX). Students engage in problem solving activities.
Math Minute; Whole Class Mini Lesson (concept); Centres.
Pop Quiz (in “Pop Quiz” notebooks). 
Pop Quiz: I post 7 questions on the SmartBoard: 3 questions addressing current classroom concept (e.g. measurement: calculating area and volume), 3 review questions from completed units of study (e.g. place value, long division & fractions) and 1 challenging problem solving question as relates to our current unit of study.

I have found that in following the above pattern I am better able to stay on track and accomplish my classroom goals.

Actually, the Pop Quiz notebooks have proven to be extremely valuable! They are yet another means of authentic assessment in that they are cumulative. I am able to gather, review and accumulate a “snap shot” of current skill sets as we move through the program on a weekly basis. (I thought of creating this math notebook one day as I was marking their weekly spelling tests). Note: parents are also required to sign “Pop Quizzes” weekly, and in this way are also able to track their child’s progress. Bonus: Regular updates and our Pop Quizzes mean that there are no surprises on report cards!

As often as possible (e.g. once a day) I read math themed picture books to my students. It is extremely important for them to develop the language of math in every way possible. Some great titles include the following:
(PS I teach Grade 5 & my students love  coming to the carpet to hear stories read out loud!):

Some titles to get you started:

Math Curse (Jon Sciezka)
The Greedy Triangle (Marilyn Burns)
The M&Ms Brand Pattern Book (McGrath)
More M&M’s Brand Chocolate Candies Math (Barbara McGrath)
Who Sank the Boat
Do You Wanna Be? You Chance to Find Out about Probability (Jean Cushman)
Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi: A Math Adventure
The Rabbit Problem (Emily Gravet)
Uno’s Garden (Graeme Base)
Spaghetti and Meatballs for All! (Marilyn Burn)
365 Penguins (Jean-Luc Fromenta)
How to Train with a T.Rex (Michael Phelps book)
Divide and Ride (Stuart Murphy)
Grapes of Math: Mind Stretching Math Riddles (Greg Tang)
Math Appeal: Mind Stretching Math Riddles (Greg Tang)
Fraction Fun (David Adler)
Full House: an Invitation to Fractions (Dayle A. Dodds)
A Remainder of One (Elinor J. Pinczes )
Esio Trot (Roald Dahl)
The Garbage Barge (Jonah Winter)
Lion’s Share Problem
Two Ways to Count to Ten (Dee)

Twizzler’s Shapes and Patterns (Pallotta)

***Now Check out these fantastic sites that I turn to when looking for picture books to pair with my Grade 5 math lessons!

1) http://bit.ly/dzOGGJ
2) http://bit.ly/dmwmRN
3) “Math Concepts + Picture Books = Reading Fun” = http://bit.ly/binijn
4) “Picture Books for Math”http://bit.ly/9MXY3E
5) http://bit.ly/aK8ICd
6) http://bit.ly/bpD4zP


6 responses to “>How to Structure a Weekly Math Program (A Most General Approach … + Picture Books)

  1. >Hi Ally, I love the picture book idea during for math, I often forget to use them during this time. Would love to also hear more about your centers. Thanks for the post!

  2. >Thanks for the reply Kim! I love reading to my students every chance I get — and pictures books are perfect! They are bite-sized, entertaining and visual. They bring us together as a group. They help to build students' listening and comprehension skills, as well as their math vocabulary! Love it!With regard to centres, I include the following: 3 centres where students can work independently, and one at which I sit to review and reinforce skills, fill any "gaps" or extend the concepts for those who are ready for a challenge!

  3. >Thank you for the ideas. I would be interested in reading more of your ideas for a weekly language arts program in a future blog.

  4. >Thanks … was thinking about doing just that!Enjoy the day!Cheers,Ally

  5. >Hi Allywhat kind of centers do you have on days other than fridays

  6. >Hi! Good question. I love creating a collaborative working environment. We assess and build on our strengths, address our needs, and build on the ideas of others. There is time for individual attention as well.I find that my week is a balance between teacher-directed & student-directed learning. Math and Language activities are conducted in "leveled" groups as often as possible. Writing is conducted in stages with a lot of paired, as well as individual work and conferencing. Science is hands-on as often a possible as is Math (centres/groups every day Monday through Friday).Cheers,Ally

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