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  • Writer's pictureRachel Terlop

Broken Calculator

There are only about 40 days left in this school year. After 300+ days with this class, my goal every week is to do something new or different so our learning environment doesn't get stale. After 2 years, I feel like my kids know what writing time looks like, what our math block holds, and what to expect during centers. Yes, they are moving through their days gracefully, but I love spicing things up. I've tried seating arrangements, new center ideas, reading on Epic! (more to come on that later), but nothing has felt.... spicy enough. I'm a spicy garlic woman, not honey mustard, or medium.

Enter my professional development leader, Jen. Jen has been my math coach all year long, but due to our crazy schedules, she's only able to come in once a week for 20 minutes. With that being said, most of the time when she comes in, its during our Morning Meeting.

We've done the video-taping, the analyzing of data, the creation of math centers... but again, nothing is spicy enough for me. During our last professional development, Jen had our team fill out what we want to accomplish during the last 40 days of school in regards to math instruction. I said that I want our mornings to POP. Start off with a bang for Morning Meeting, and get us thinking, strategizing, and problem solving. I do love the 13th round of "A my Name is Alice," and making birthday cards for dogs, but Morning Meeting could be pushing us to do some higher level thinking.

Guess what this crazy woman does? She ORDERS a MATH MORNING MEETING BOOK. That was my action step, and within 3 days, she made it happen. I did not even know that this book existed. We spent our coaching meeting spilling through the pages of this book, talking through activities and figuring out which ones I could do immediately.

We landed on Broken Calculator. Imagine you have a calculator, and you need to get the number 20 on your screen, but the + button, and the 2 button are broken. GO!

They just stared at me. Until someone screamed, "SUBTRACTION." Thats when the madness began.

There was a flurry of children grabbing markers, running to their seats, and frantically scribbling. Within 30 seconds I saw a plethora of "30-10s" or "50-30s." But then, the magic happened. I saw a 4x5.

We just started multiplication two weeks ago. But, they were doing it! The "10x2s" crept onto the table with shouts of, "THE TWO BUTTON IS BROKEN!"

They were engaged.

They were correcting each other.

They were screaming about math.

Everyone was happy.

From there, we moved onto making arrays on peg boards in a similar fashion. "You need to make an array with 12 as the answer, but your rubber band will break if its stretched to 6 pegs. Go!"

I advise everyone to go buy the Math Morning Meeting book, and thank the people who support you spice your life up. Thanks again, Jen!

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