Guided Math: Let's Create a Numeracy Rich Classroom

As I started reading this chapter I walked in my classroom and did a little test....

What kind of test you ask?

Well, I looked around and I really asked myself... is it evident that math instruction is going on in here??

Spoiler Alert: the answer is "sorta"

Not an answer I am proud of.

Laney Sammons, author of Guided Math, points out how classrooms bend over backwards for language arts... we have word walls, labels, poems and all kinds of things to create a print rich environment.

What do we have for math? And why is there such a discrepancy between the two subject areas?

In my kinder classroom I do have a calendar area which we use every single day. We practice days of the week, vocabulary such as yesterday and tomorrow, counting the days in school, place value and more. I am thinking about changing and adding a few things for the 2014-2015 school year which I hope to blog about later in the summer.

We also do a little something I like to call Incredible Equation...which randomly I blogged about recently.
click on the picture to read more about Incredible Equations... and get a freebie!

Ok so I was thinking... oh good. I am doing well on this "Numeracy Rich Test" and then, well,

I found what my area areas of focus can be!

Besides a calendar area- here are some other things that a numeracy rich classroom should have:

1. Materials well organized for both the teacher and the students.

My supplies are organized, but I am hoping to update my system so that my students have access to all the manipulatives ALL of the time. I want them to be able to choose which tools they need as part of the problem solving process.

This means the counting bears, rulers, unifix cubes, etc etc etc... need to not only be labeled and organized... but OUT and somewhere their little hands can reach.

2. A math vocabulary or focus wall
This past year on my {regular} word wall I started to add some math terms to I am going to call that "Step 1 of reaching my goal."

But rather than just having a few math words on my word wall... I am going to have a math focus wall. More on that as it develops.

3. Anchor charts, graphic organizers and other classroom environment things that help little ones think about math
We make them and we use them for language arts AND math.... but again, when I conducted this little "Test" I found it was heavy language arts.

I make these GIANT numbers the very first few days of school.

As in the 1 on first day, etc. We just make them to 9. I hang them and then....
I take them down at the end of the month {I draw names for some lucky friends to take one home.}

I am thinking I can leave them up next school year- and maybe add to them as the year goes on.

Because these are created on the first nine days of school {Have you taught kindergarten? If you have you know what those beginning days are like!}

Anyway.... back to my point... because it is so early on... I have the numbers cut and the pieces are printed off and all I do is glue them on and discuss it with the kids {and draw in the circles on the ten frame.}

Later in the year, I make the process of using charts more interactive and would hand write whatever ideas they had to put on the chart for whatever it may be... but again... FIRST NINE DAYS! so I am modeling for them what the process looks like.

My goal is do make sure I create more math based charts and display them proudly!

4. Math Journals are another component of a "numeracy rich classroom environment."

Math journals look different in different grades and different  teaching styles and this could be a post on its own.

During the same time we are making those huge numbers at the start of a school year, we are also introducing math journals.
We start simple.... in fact, I even have the first week's worth of math journal prompts glued in for them.
We are doing my color unit in language arts and science at this time, hence why we have color words in the mix above.

After that they do it on their own, but in these early stages we are learning not only about counting and using small numbers, but we are learning classroom systems and routines. Laney Sammons encourages a classroom to have systems in place to allow students to know what to do and where things go.

Chapter 2 also talks about the importance of teachers leading how to think during problem solving. This is another goal of do more of this!

So even though the above math journal examples above are basic, they still require a thought process. So perhaps I could model, "It says draw 3 suns so I am going to draw one, two, three. I think I am done, but I should go back and check, let me count the suns again, one, two, three. Now that I am sure there are three I will color them in. I need to remember to get my yellow crayon."

I'm sure I said something of that nature before... but I want to make sure I am always modeling my thought process AND having them share their thought process too.... again, before I get into metacognition I'll stop... that also can be its own post.

I invite you to walk in your classroom and ask yourself... is my classroom a numeracy rich environment? What goals may you have for this coming school year?

And I invite you at your chance to win a gift card to Really Good Stuff.... the perfect place to help you get the numeracy vibe going!

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  1. Really like those large numbers with the models and images on them - a great idea - thank you!
    Growing Little Learners

  2. When you 'think aloud' during your maths modelling, you can also make the students the expert by asking them if you need to add more or if you have enough. Doing this has a benefit of them learning to check someone else's work and keeps them engaged cause they hope to be able to correct you :)