Setting Goals in Math

5 weeks into school and we are finally into a solid routine in math.  The beginning of the year is all about setting procedures and modeling, modeling, modeling.  My math schedule is the same every week with few exceptions.

Mondays: Math Wall and Counting Collections
Tuesdays: Math Wall and Math Mysteries
Wednesdays: Math Wall and Math Mysteries
Thursdays: Math Wall and Math Mysteries
Fridays: Graphing/Assessment and Fact Fluency

You can read about my schedule in more detail here.

Let’s chat about how we use the Standards for Math Practices to set our goals for the week.

I use the Standards for Math Practices Posters as a reference for me and the kids and make the anchor chart with my kids…mainly because I just think anchor charts made “live” and with kids are more powerful!

Using the math practices as our goals for kids has been a big change for the BETTER in my room!  We started doing this last year and it really helps our kids focus in on what they are working on.  But it also helps me focus on my conferences with kids and what to share during our share time.  It really has been one of the easiest and more powerful changes I’ve made recently in our math instruction.

One thing I especially love is that even though they are standards for MATH practices, I can easily make connections in literacy with the same practices.  In reading and writing we must attend to precision to read and spell accurately…and we must also construct viable arguments when we write opinion pieces to convince and persuade our readers.  I try to connect them across as many subject areas as I can for the kids to build those connections!

For most of the practices, I have hand motions that we do as we state our goals each day.   This helps the kids remember their goal for the day or week.  And it just makes the practices easier to understand for them {and ME!}

Here are a few of the goals and practices we have focused on this year…

We started off the first week of school discussing how to use our math tools.  Because, ya know, otherwise we have guns, castles, and the world’s longest caterpillar appearing during math time! 🙂  We spent one day talking about the “don’ts” and one day talking about and practicing the “do’s.”

We then talked about making sense of the problem.  {{Motions: I can make sense (fingers touching brain) of the problem and persevere (arm goes straight out in front of body) in solving.}}  This unpacking chart is from my Math Mysteries packet.  We mixed up addition and subtraction problems during that week to force kids to really need to make sense of the problem and avoid the rut of always adding numbers.  We discuss these unpacking questions every single time I launch a CGI problem. {{If you’re a little lost on what I’m talking about, you can read more about what CGI looks like in my room HERE.}}

The next week we moved to discussing how we model with math.  {{Motions: I can model (finger touches brain) with math (hands form an open book)…the idea here is modeling with math means I’m showing exactly what I’m thinking about on my paper.}}  If it looks like this chart isn’t finished, it’s because it’s not!  We fill in this chart during our share time as we “discover” new strategies from our friends.  These are all of the strategies and things we’ve seen from kids so far.  Later in the year, as our strategies get more sophisticated we will add a few more (typically 10’s and 1’s, decomposing, and known facts.)

The past 2 weeks we have been working on constructing viable arguments and critiquing others.  {{Motions: I can construct viable (muscle arms and said in a deep voice) arguments and critique (your best critiquing face with fingers stroking chin) others.}} The kids absolutely LOVE showing me their muscles for this one.  And they make the *cutest* darn critiquing faces!

Next week our focus will be looking for structure.  We will be changing up problem types by alternating regular addition and missing addends (or change unknowns).  {{Motions: I can look for (hand above eyes looking around) and make use of structure (fists pounding/building on each other)}}  I’m excited to see how my kids do with this one!

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  1. Thanks for a terrific post with loads of details. I need to have a better structure for my Firsties math so this is perfect. I am starting out with the Counting unit and have the rest on my wish list. love following your blog!

  2. I love your math mysteries! My kids have a really hard time with change unknown! It is so hard not to give tgem too much info! How long ususlly till they catch on?

    1. Yes it is! We just did our first change unknown 2 weeks ago. Just enough for them to start to see that the end is not always the answer {sometimes the beginning or middle of the story is missing!} I only had 8 kids that solved it appropriately. 🙂 I really won't expect the majority of them to get it until sometime in the 3rd quarter. Until then, I just keep giving it to them every so often for exposure to different problem types!

      And sorry I'm replying late…this got lost in my email!

  3. I hate to bother you again. I will say, I used all of your resources this year and my kids did great! I would like to know if you still do math wall everyday and follow your schedule that is in another post. I would definitely be willing to purchase a resource from you that shows the sequence that you teach everything in math throughout the year and what math practices you focus on each week. Thank you for sharing your ideas!!!

    1. I'm glad you were successful this year! Congratulations! Teaching for understanding in math is hard work!!

      I started off doing math wall every day as I had done for the past several years. As the year progressed, I started doing math wall only once a week. We did all of the slides in one day. That was mainly because I restructured the math skills part of my day to include more than just math wall. I need to blog about that soon! 😉 I will consider doing a sequence. It is difficult because the specifics vary some year to year based on kids…but I'll see what I can come up with. Our district has a very very detailed layout of each quarter for math. I was on that writing team. It's available to the public to view HERE. But it might be helpful to teachers if I made a simplified version. I'll add it to my to do list! Thanks!