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Improv Inquiry Group with Deb

11/1: We played "Zulu" with Shampoo, "Spelling Bee," and talked about our playlist for the Talent Show (under consideration are Gibberish Interpreter, Patrificus Totalus, I Disagree)

10/18: We played "Interview the Characters" (a new game we are devising from a NaNoWriMo idea) and two rounds of "Zulu" (selling shoes and toothpaste)

10/11: We played "Because I Said So," "Family Argument," "Gibberish Interpreter," and "Freeze and Tap Out."

10/4: We played "Freeze and Tap Out"

9/27: We played "I Disagree"

Lunchtime Read Aloud:


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"Trouble twins" Dallas and Florida are orphans who have given up believing there is such a thing as a loving home. Tiller and Sairy are an eccentric older couple who live in the beautiful, mysterious Ruby Holler, but they’re restless for one more big adventure. When they invite the twins to join them on their journeys, they first must all stay together in the Holler, and the magic of the place takes over. Two pairs of lives grow closer and are changed forever.


George's Marvelous Medicine

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URCHINS 2016-2017

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Welcome to the new year, and the new semester.

Second Semester Focus Groups:




First Semester Focus Group:

Problem-Solving Workshop Focus Group 9:40-10:30

We will be exploring math ideas this semester through mental math and hands-on investigations.

We’ll start with a ten minute Number Talk where we’ll do math in our heads and share how we saw, thought about, and understood the math.

After that, we’ll work on a specific problem with hands-on manipulatives, adjusting the numbers as we go to find the right amount of challenge for each of the mathematicians in the group. We’ll share how we solved or counted as we worked the problems.

Each week, I’ll post what we did in class on the Class Day section of the Ocean website. I’ll link that to this semester-long record of the group. I also have a Math Page where I’ll link other interesting resources. Please take a look each week.

I will offer some ways to keep playing at home with the math that we investigate during class, for those who are interested.

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December and January: We shifted to group games including 9-Lines Tic Tac Toe combined with Race to 500, Tic Tac Trouble word problems, and Snail Race on the Zillio Mega Mountain. See some other games here.



11/14 and 11/29:

We played Nine Lines Tic Tac Toe with the fives in combination with Race to 500. It was crazy trying to get a tic tac toe with four different teams! Lots of adding and subtracting multiples of five at a concrete level.



We did some quick ten frames:


After that, for our PROBLEM SOLVING WORKSHOP we tackled a complex problem (Priscilla's Flower Pots) to see how the kids would tackle organizing their thinking. 


Priscilla’s FLOWER POTS

Priscilla has ____ flower plants. There is the same number of buds on each plant. All together there are ____ buds. How many buds are there on each plant?


  1. 3, 12

  2. 6, 30

  3. 12, 60

  4. 20, 140

  5. 15, 105

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Dot patterns with 4, grouped as 8, discussed how we saw them, how we mentally added 16 + 16, talked about tens:
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We looked again at how to get a THREE STAR record of our thinking AFTER we already have the correct answer. We started with Sue's Frogs, using the numbers 23 and 7. We built it using Rekenreks, Base 10 blocks, Unifix cubes, and on a twenty frame with an additional ten frame. We started to investigate getting to a three-star record.


More dot patterns with 4:

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Then, we'll look at how to get a THREE STAR record of our thinking AFTER we already have the correct answer. We'll start with Sue's Frogs, using the numbers 23 and 7.

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Next week, we'll continue to explore HOW WE CAN MAKE THIS INTO A THREE STAR RECORD. We also looked at different ways to think about Sue's Frogs which we will explore next week and try to record:

Sue has SOME FROGS. Elana brings her 7 more. Now she has 30 frogs. How many frogs did Sue have to begin with?


Sue has 23 frogs. Elana brings her SOME MORE FROGS. Now Sue has 30 Frogs. How many frogs did Elana bring Sue?




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We looked at some more dot patterns and then used the following problem for our hands-on workshop. We started with 2, 3 as our numbers. If Kitty is 2 times as old as her friend (or TWICE as old), and her friend is 3, how old is Kitty? 

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They worked through the problem with new numbers each time. Each new number combination makes the problem a bit more challenging.We talked about how some numbers make the story seem unlikely. Next time, we might discuss which ones (see A-F below the problem for different numbers to use in the blanks) seem impossible, at least if Kitty is human—For D, Kitty would have to be 150 years old!!

They got to choose from different manipulatives including unifix cubes, rekenreks, base ten blocks, and simple two-sided dot counters with or without ten frames. 

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We used Rekenreks to solve some problems, and then we worked the following problem with different numbers, from one-digit to three-digit:

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We looked at dot patterns without being able to count one-by-one and shared what we saw, how we saw it, and how many dots we saw.  

We solved two addition problems and three subtraction problems in our heads and talked about how we thought about them (5 + 8 + 7; 15 + 16; 78 - 77; 78 - 75; and 78 - 65).

Next week, we'll tackle a problem to solve using different math manipulatives, and each mathematician will apply numbers to the problem that are just the right level of personal challenge.

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