Archive for September, 2012

Tweeps Worth Following

This will be a very brief entry tonight, but I’ve been meaning to share some great recommendations for WHO to follow on Twitter.  And, by all means, if you know of someone I can learn from, please leave a comment and share.  I am always open to learning from others, especially those who can help me grow into the educational leader I aspire to be!

Here they are:

  • Bruce Ferrington is an AMAZING, yes, AMAZING math teacher!  He is phenomenal at providing students opportunities to inquire about  math.  He posts frequently here on his blog, with not only great writing about his lessons, but also pictures of student work!  He is located in Australia. 
  • Joe Mazza is the principal of an elementary school in Pennsylvania who has a wealth of knowledge to share, and he does, here.  He is well versed in using social media to connect students, parents, and teachers to strengthen home-school partnerships.  
  • John Wink is an elementary principal in Texas who is just phenomenal.  I seriously want to work with this guy!  He shares his passion for education here. Mr. Wink shares positive insight on leading a school in the 21st Century.
  • Dan Rockwell @ Leadershipfreak is just that… a freak about leadership!  This man is inspiring and constantly makes me reflect on what kind of leader I am, and what kind of leader I aspire to be.  This is what his profile on Twitter states, “My dream is when people see me they think that guy made my life better.” Seriously… he makes my life better, and constantly makes me want to be a better leader!

There are so many people to follow on Twitter, and I’m realizing that sometimes less really is more.  These four are on the top of my list, and when I only have a few minutes, I usually scroll straight to one of them to get inspired.  


September 25, 2012 at 10:57 am Leave a comment

What can you do?

What can you do? Quite often, it’s these four little words that get lost when teachers and parents “assess” students.  

If you’re a teacher, imagine hearing this from your principal;

“You can’t be nice today. You don’t know how to treat kids. You can’t lead our staff. You can’t get here on time. You don’t know your standards. You don’t know how to teach that.”  

So imagine when students hear;

 “He doesn’t know how to read that book. This work is too hard for her. She doesn’t know her basic facts.  Didn’t you learn that last year?”

At some time in our lives, we are all guilty of looking at the glass as half empty instead of half full. When it comes to teaching kids, or anyone for that matter, we need to constantly be reminded that the glass is half full!  We need to be very cognizant of what we are saying and how we are saying it.  People do believe what they hear, especially kids.  Let’s be real, students CAN do!  It’s our job as educators to find out what they CAN do, and take it from there.  

I don’t think I need to pontificate about this for much longer, but I do want to share an A-HA moment that a teacher had the other day.  I’m so proud of her for being aware of her thinking and how it was defeating her and her students.  I’m helping two elementary schools with a math-focused book study this year.  We’re reading, Children’s Mathematics, Cognitively Guided Instruction by Thomas Carpenter.  A particular teacher who has admitted she doesn’t like math, nor does she like teaching it came up to me as soon as I arrived at the school Wednesday  morning, she was all aglow and eager to share her A-HA moment with me.  I love when teachers get excited to share their  learning! She told me when she collected the students’ work on bar graphs the previous day, upon first glance, she said, “These are awful.” Then she thought, reflected better yet, “No these are not awful, this is what my students CAN do right now.”  That night she went through each of her student’s bar graphs they’d created in class that day, and made notes about what they did get, what they could do, and then adjusted her lesson plans for the following day to address what they were still learning about bar graphs.  YES!

I do believe that this teacher is going through a major shift in her thinking and I’m excited to see what she wants to share next time I’m at that school.  

Please consider what you are saying and how you are saying it, especially in the presence of students.  Find out what they can do, tell them what they can do, affirm that, and then phrase how you will help them get better or learn more.  You will be pleasantly surprised to see how much growth they make when they know, that you know, they CAN!

September 14, 2012 at 11:42 am 1 comment


Students have misconceptions when they enter our classrooms, and it’s our job as educators to clear up those misconceptions, and  avoid further misconceptions from developing.  In my role as a math coach, teachers often have misconceptions that I’m determined to clear up.  It’s no fault that most teachers have misconceptions, we weren’t all taught for understanding in math, most of us were probably taught very traditionally, by rote and memorization.  That isn’t best practice!  One of the major bonuses of the Common Core State Standards, and there are many, but the one that I think will make a huge difference for teachers, is that these standards will help to clear up many math misconceptions,for teachers as well as students. Let’s talk about  basic number sense for starters.  For years, I’ve heard teachers throw around the words, “number sense” as if it means something to them, only to find out that we don’t really know as much as we thought about “number sense”.  Just like reading and writing, there is an entire learning trajectory that comes with number sense.  The misconception teachers and students have had is that if a child can read and write numerals and count then that means the child has strong number sense.  BUZZ, WRONG!!! All children are born mathematicians, (that means I was too). We have innate number sense the minute we begin our development, and all of a sudden when we make it to school that gets squashed by the rote rules and procedures we’re forced to follow.  If I do nothing else in my role as a math coach, I hope I clear up this misconception for teachers and parents.  I’m pretty sure I’ll do more than this, but just in case, I’m telling you my quest!  Similar to learning to read, children have to make sense of those numerals, also known as symbols that represent quantities.  If you tell a child this is the number five by showing him 5, that’s all he sees, he doesn’t have comprehension or meaning of that symbol, that’s why objects and pictures are so important in math.  Back to the misconception of number sense, I’ve also heard many teachers say, “Well, if she doesn’t get number sense by the end of first grade, she’s never going to get it.”  BUZZ, WRONG AGAIN!  When students are given rich problems to solve, and opportunities to manipulate numbers and find meaning in them, they build number sense.  Whether it’s small quantities or learning to see things in units, such as tens and hundreds, and so on, students make sense of numbers continuously.  We have to present opportunities for them to continue doing this, which translates to provide real life problem solving for your students.  It might take a little more time to think through and plan, but I guarantee the payoff will increase your mathematical knowledge as well as your students! It’s never to late to build number sense! More about how number sense is developed can be found in this article.


September 2, 2012 at 11:43 am 2 comments

Kristen Hahn

September 2012
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