It’s hard to believe, but the official end to the 2014-2015 school year is just around the corner! Along with plans for summer vacations, sleep away camps, and relaxing at the beach, comes the realization that students still benefit from reading and practicing learned math skills in an effort to reduce what we refer to as the “Summer Brain Drain!”
This year, I am once again promoting the M4thodology Summer Sampler math workbooks which align with what your children learned this year in our Singapore Math curriculum. Links to purchase each workbook directly from Amazon.Com can be found on the righthand side of this blog post. The workbooks are designed to reinforce skills learned for the grade your child has currently completed, and I encourage you to purchase the next grade level as well so that they can begin applying their knowledge to even more challenging assignments.
Our Lower School Summer Reading Program this year promises to be exciting as we team up with Scholastic in our quest to see if Posnack families can break a record by reading a MILLION minutes this summer. More information will be sent home this week with your child’s log-in information and a link to receive reminders and updates all summer long about our progress towards that million mark! Encourage your child to read for pleasure and knowledge. Teachers will be sending home lists of books that are “just right” for your child, and we encourage you to read together as a family to build a love of reading throughout your home,
When we return to school, all students are invited to bring in their own drawing of their favorite book cover. These drawings will proudly decorate the walls of our newly renovated
Lower School Library!
Don’t forget to follow the directions above to receive text messages this summer with updates from our reading contest and suggestions for new books. Take a photo of your child reading while wearing their Posnack gear, and they may be featured in our weekly Ram News under the section,
Posnack Reads Everywhere!
Wishing all our Posnack families a relaxing summer filled with reading memories that will last a lifetime!
Does 2 + 2 = 4?
Are the group of numbers on the left side of the “equal sign” really “equal to” the number on the right side? By presenting this problem to students and using the word “equal,” we are telling them that those two little parallel lines mean there is only one possible answer, and by doing so, we may be missing an important opportunity to introduce algebraic thinking at an early age.
Research has shown that teaching elementary age children to think algebraically is a precursor for success as they move toward advanced levels of mathematics. By introducing the idea that the “equal sign” represents a relationship between two mathematical expressions, students begin the important process of relational thinking.
Let’s look at the following example:
7 + 3 = 2 + 8
If we say that 7 plus 3 equals 2 + 8, we are essentially limiting the ability of primary grade students to comprehend this unique relationship. Seven plus three does not ONLY equal two plus eight; it also can equal nine plus 1, and one plus one plus eight, etc. By using instead the words “equivalent to,” parents and teachers can emphasize this relationship and begin a math dialogue with their children to encourage a better understanding of mathematical expressions.
Understanding this concept can also help the student who struggles with memorizing addition facts. Using mental math, students can explore the concept of “friendly numbers,” those numbers like 10 and 20, which are easy to compute mentally. Asking a 1st grader to tell you the sum of 19 plus 28 may create a sense of panic in those who rely strictly on memorization. But when young children begin the process of decomposing numbers and understanding that there are numerous ways to create any given number, their computational fluency increases dramatically. Some students may decide to increase the number 19 to 20, by reducing the 28 to 27. So the problem 19 + 28 becomes equivalent to 20 + 27! Others may change the 28 to 30, thus creating the equivalent expression, 17 + 30.
At Posnack, we have encouraged all elementary level teachers to adopt the phrase, “equivalent to” in their math classes as a means of emphasizing this relationship and starting the journey to algebraic reasoning at a young age. Watching the Kindergarten and 1st grade classes in the morning is an amazing display of mathematical wonder. Students use the number of days they have been in school to develop word problems, number bonds, and mathematical expressions. And while many may still have a little difficulty pronouncing the word “equivalent,” they have no problem at all explaining how it works using two- and three-digit numbers. Watching the excitement in the classrooms as the students discover more than one “right” answer, is a thrill that is “equivalent” to none!
I don’t frequently post “retweets,” but the following was begging to be shared. With the introduction this past year of our new math curriculum, an added focus was on engaging students in the Lower School by introducing hands-on activities, projects, and competitions. The goal was not just to “teach” math, but rather to change the mindset of so many students who feel they were born with a predestination to fail all things mathematical. Dispelling the myth that a math gene is part of our chromosomal makeup proved to be a challenge, but I know that we made tremendous headway in convincing students that practice and perseverance can go a long way towards mathematical success.
The following alternative suggestions to “I can’t” statements don’t just apply to math and they certainly are not limited to kids. Conrad Hall, a well-respected and brilliant cinematographer, was quoted as saying “You are always a student, never a master.” Retraining our brain to look for better methods, strategies, or solutions is the message we want to send to our children. Let’s not allow them to settle for “I can’t” when “I CAN” may be just a strategy away.
Thank you to @casas_jimmy for tweeting this picture, as well as to the unknown originator.
Summer Brain Drain….we’ve all heard that phrase, but is it fact or fiction? Research has shown that at the start of the new school year, students frequently assess at a level at least one month behind where they left off in the Spring. So what happens to our brains during the sweltering summer months? There is little research to suggest that our inability to continue the learning process is a result of the deterioration of neurocognitive muscle. What we do know is that certain subject areas, like math and science, require more frequent drilling and repetitive instruction. After all, it’s easy for your kids to grab a favorite book to read on a rainy day, or in the backseat on the way to the beach. Math, on the other hand, may be a tougher sell.
Posnack students this year have made tremendous strides in math. With the introduction of Singapore strategies, including bar modeling, drawing, and hands-on manipulatives, students are able to relate their classroom learning to real-life situations. So, as parents, what can you do to keep them mathematically motivated over the coming summer months? Card games, estimation activities, and flash cards can all be used to make math fun and engaging. Trips to the grocery store can turn into math challenges with children using mental math skills to estimate the total amount of money spent. Involve your child in the planning of family vacations so they can see how math is all around us – miles driven, ticket prices, elapsed time, budgeting meal allowances, and weather forecasts – these are all examples of how math is used every day.
I also highly recommend a new series of summer workbooks tied directly into the math program used this year. Each “Summer Sampler” provides an overview of skills previously learned, and offers access to a corresponding website for video demonstrations as well. I have included a link for each grade-level workbook in the side section of this blog. Clicking on the picture will take you directly to the site for easy purchasing.
Please feel free to comment or email with any questions you may have. I know you share in the pride I have for the enthusiasm and success your children have shown this year with the new math curriculum. The phrase “I Love Math” has become, for many, the new mantra when I pass by in the hallways. Let’s keep up the excitement and replace “Summer Brain Drain” with “Summer Brain GAIN!”
I definitely “underestimated” the interest the Lower School students would have in our recent Estimating Challenge! One large container filled with ping-pong balls, and another smaller jar filled with mini bouncy balls, provided lively conversation and debate among friends. Teachers combined lessons on capacity and estimating with an “in-school” field trip, where students applied different strategies to come up with their best guess. The winners were chosen based on how close their estimates were to the actual number of balls in each jar. The final count? The small jar had 288 balls, the large jar had 136!
And so, without further ado, I present to you the proud winners…
Mathematically Magical! The perfect two words to describe Wednesday night’s performance by Dr. Arthur Benjamin. Playing to a “standing room only” crowd of over 400 people, Dr. Benjamin’s mental math tricks, shortcuts, and solutions offered the audience a whole new perspective on the relationship between fun and mathematics.
And the real highlight of the evening besides Dr. Benjamin’s own version of a popular song about “pi?” I would have to credit his closing remarks in which he praised Posnack’s teachers and students for their enthusiasm and creativity in relating math to real life and making learning fun!
So now that the lights have dimmed and Dr. Benjamin returns to his students at Harvey Mudd College, is the Posnack Math Challenge over? Absolutely not! Our students have proven that they are able to tackle math challenges with the critical thinking and computational skills needed for success. They are ready to apply their knowledge to more difficult challenges as they progress through the grades. And of even greater importance, Posnack students are ready to do all this with a positive “I CAN DO IT” attitude towards math.
So I would like to personally offer my thanks and gratitude to Dr. Arthur Benjamin for validating what our students have been showing us this year – Math IS fun… Math IS engaging… Math IS magical!
Do you believe in magic? For most, the answer would be “no.” A logical explanation can usually be found for how the rabbit was pulled from a hat, or the magician’s assistant placed inside a box and seemingly sawed in half. But rabbits and boxes are tangible items – a careful analysis of the illusion and perhaps some help from a slow motion replay will usually reveal the secrets behind the magic. However, the magic taking place right now in the Lower School isn’t as easy to explain.
Tomorrow begins the second week of our 1st Annual “Math is Magic” Challenge. Last week, all students in grades K-5 were given a different challenging math word problem each day. Students are working together with classmates, drawing bar models and pictures, and explaining their own unique ways of solving the problems. They are comparing their answers with one another and checking for the reasonableness of their solution. The total number of correct answers are tallied daily for each grade and recorded on a bulletin board for all to see.
So what is it that makes a school-wide math challenge so magical? The magic isn’t in the problem solving or the collaboration among students. It’s not in the graphing of the number of problems solved correctly. It’s not even in the students’ ability to apply learned skills to tackle math concepts not yet encountered in class. The magic is in the excitement and engagement level of the students. Students are discussing math problems while walking through the hallways and at recess. They are talking with one another about the best way to come up with a solution. They are actually protesting when they think the problem is too easy. And they are asking for MORE – more problems, harder problems, challenging problems. Posnack students are saying that math is FUN!
The fun and excitement continue this week as we welcome the world-renowned “Mathemagician,” Dr. Arthur Benjamin, to our school for what is sure to be an incredible performance showcasing the magic of math. We invite you to join us this Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m. in the Orlove Auditorium at the JCC. Will Dr. Benjamin pull rabbits out of a hat or saw his assistant in half? Probably not – but he will most certainly perform other incredible feats that will surely leave you amazed.
So, will the magic of math continue to take place at Posnack? Absolutely! There is incredible learning taking place in and around the classrooms, the hallways, and even the playground. With the discovery that math CAN be fun, the students are not likely to let that magical feeling disappear into thin air anytime soon.
Project-based learning engages students in activities where they can apply learned skills and strategies to “real-world” situations. Second grade students are using math skills to plan a party complete with pizza, cake, paper goods, and entertainment! Way to go, Second Grade!!!
The Posnack teaching abacus was spotted this morning at Starbucks! Our Abacus and Latte program is in full swing! Gather your friends or just join us yourself for a ten minute lesson on understanding how the abacus can strengthen your child’s understanding of place value and build strong number sense. We promise you will be an abacus maven before you’ve even finished your morning coffee.
To set up your own personal Abacus and Latte meeting, contact me at (email@example.com) or 954-583-6100 ext.604.