Focus on Math

Helping children become mathematicians!

Ecole Muheim Elementary, Smithers, BC: Math Week May 20, 2014

Math week picMy appreciation to the staff at Ecole Muheim Elementary in Smithers, BC, for your great participation in the workshop last Friday! With the weather as beautiful as it was, and the fact that it was the beginning of the Victoria Day long weekend, your focus and participation is doubly appreciated!

One of the things we talked about at the session was the idea of breaking away from the traditional focus of teaching mathematics in units that are seldom revisited. You know, the three-week unit on fractions, after which we do very little with fractions for the remainder of the school year. I showed you the “math week” I worked with as a classroom teacher, and promised I would post a copy of that.

Please note that the main focus everyday was on number and operations. I think particularly in elementary school that this is often neglected. We will do units on patterning, on geometry, and such (which, of course, are valid topics in mathematics!) that go for weeks at a time while leaving behind number. I personally believe that this is not the best way to cover the topics, and so propose a weekly plan where the other strands/topics are addressed in mini-lessons.

I have had teachers tell me that the idea of juggling all of the different topics at once was overwhelming – and to that I offer the plan of keeping the mini-lessons the same for a week or two. Even doing that you will be covering all of the topics each grading term, which I believe is a very good thing.

You do not need to re-invent the wheel so to speak when it comes to the mini-lessons. For example, as you consider what you will do in the patterns & relations mini-lessons, you can go to your regular textbook source and use lesson ideas from there – you will just chunk the lessons into smaller bits and do them in successive lessons.

I coached one teacher regarding the Math Week system, and she created for herself a series of thin binders to keep track. Her Monday binder had the unit content photocopied for the topic for each Monday mini-lesson, and she just highlighted the chunks she was going to do and numbered them in the order she was going to do them, and thus in one planning sitting she laid out for herself the next 8-10 mini-lessons on that topic. She did this same thing for each of the days of week. The system worked very well for her in that manner.

Download the Math Week sheet here.

For the Muheim folks I will add links here to a number of the handouts we used so you have access to clean copies of those:

–100 dot arrays (1 large)

–100 dot arrays (4 per page)

–100 dot arrays (6 per page)

–100 dot arrays (12 per page)

–number of the day level 1 (English)

–number of the day level 1 (French)

–number of the day level 2 (English)

–number of the day level 2 (French)

–number of the day level 3 (English)

–number of the day level 3 (French)

–base 10 grid paper (larger)

–percent circles


I would love to hear about the ideas you are trying in your classrooms! Please comment on the blog or send me an email!

Mathematically yours,



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