Episode #250: The Two Bucket Approach To “Fitting It All In” – A Math Mentoring Moment

Sep 11, 2023 | Podcast | 0 comments



Episode Summary:

We welcome Lisa Marentette onto the podcast to discuss how to transition from 9 years in the Kindergarten classroom environment into the grade 2 classroom. 


After so many years in the Kindergarten classroom, she wonders what changes she needs to make to the structure of her mathematics program to “fit” the grade 2 classroom environment and how she can ensure that all students leave her class well-positioned to tackle the math challenges that lay before them in grade 3.


This is another Math Mentoring Moment episode where we chat with a teacher like you who is working through some problems of practice and together we brainstorm ways to overcome them. If you have a math class “pebble in your shoe” you’d like to work through, take less than 2 minutes to book a Math Mentoring Moment Call with us and before you know it, you’ll be on a call with us to chat all things math!

What You’ll Learn:

  • How do I ensure that I don’t miss anything and kids don’t miss some fundamental building blocks; 
  • How to prioritize what really matters in your classroom; 
  • How do I emulate a play-based kindergarten program in my grade 2 class?
  • What should my math block look like?

Attention District Math Leaders:

How are you ensuring that you support those educators who need a nudge to spark a focus on growing their pedagogical-content knowledge? 

What about opportunities for those who are eager and willing to elevate their practice, but do not have the support? 

Book a call with our District Improvement Program Team to learn how we can not only help you craft, refine and implement your district math learning goals, but also provide all of the professional learning supports your educators need to grow at the speed of their learning.

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00:00:00:09 – 00:00:21:01
Lisa Marentette
I think for me, the biggest challenge is going from having two educators in the room to one, because I don’t know, it’s just obviously logistically it’s easier to hit every kid and have a really good understanding of where everyone is and what everyone needs when there’s Tobi in the room. But just the format of lesson planning is going to be different, right?

00:00:21:03 – 00:00:23:06
Lisa Marentette
We would integrate math into.

00:00:23:07 – 00:01:00:17
Kyle Pearce
Hey, math homemakers. We welcome Lisa marin Tetteh on to the podcast today to discuss how to transition from nine years in the kindergarten classroom environment into a grade two position after so many years in the kindergarten classroom, she wonders what changes she needs to make to structure her math program so it fits the Grade two classroom environment. And how can she ensure that all students are leaving her class well-positioned to tackle the math challenges that lay before them in grade three?

00:01:00:21 – 00:01:25:24
Jon Orr
This is another Math mentoring Moment episode where we chat with a teacher like you who has worked through some problems of practice, and together we brainstorm ways to overcome them. If you’ve got math pebble kicking around in your shoe, head on over to make math bomb, intercom, board slash mentor and in under 2 minutes you can have a time slot booked to chat about it with us on an upcoming Mentoring Moment episode.

00:01:26:01 – 00:01:46:23
Kyle Pearce
All right, Jon, let’s do this. Welcome to the Making Math Moments That Matter podcast. I’m Kyle Pearce.

00:01:46:23 – 00:01:49:18
Jon Orr
And I’m Jon Orr, we are from makemathmoments.com.

00:01:49:20 – 00:01:59:22
Kyle Pearce
This is the only podcast that coaches you through a six step plan to grow your mathematics program, whether at the classroom level or at the district level.

00:02:00:02 – 00:02:14:05
Jon Orr
And we do that by helping you cultivate and foster your mathematics program like a strong, healthy and balanced tree. And if you master the six parts of an effective math program, the impact of your program will grow and reach far and wide.

00:02:14:07 – 00:02:30:09
Kyle Pearce
Every week you’ll get the insight you need to stop feeling overwhelmed, gain back your confidence and get back to enjoying the planning and facility of your mathematics program for the students or the educators that you serve.

00:02:30:11 – 00:02:54:06
Jon Orr
All right, let’s dive in here and chat with Lisa about how to transition from her kindergarten days into her grade two classroom. Hey there, Lisa. Thanks for joining us on the Mic Math Moment That Matter podcast. And before Lisa introduces herself, Lisa actually is kind of my neighbor. She lives a couple streets over. She teaches with my wife.

00:02:54:06 – 00:03:16:05
Jon Orr
We know Lisa quite well. And actually, maybe you want to fill us in a little bit about what it’s like where you’re at right now, but we’re recording this in the summer. Lisa is staying at the same cottage that I stayed at last week. So she’s we left, she showed up and she’s on vacation and she’s taken some time to chat with us about her math story.

00:03:16:05 – 00:03:17:04
Jon Orr
So. Lisa.

00:03:17:06 – 00:03:27:22
Kyle Pearce
Well, hang on here. So wait a second. So you’re saying that Lisa lives near you and then you went away for a week and she couldn’t handle it? That’s you’ve been gone for a whole week.

00:03:27:23 – 00:03:30:09
Jon Orr
All of the orders, all of the orders.

00:03:30:15 – 00:03:36:18
Kyle Pearce
Except when she got to the cottage. You’re like, I’m out. And then you went back home, and now she’s stuck there.

00:03:36:20 – 00:03:38:16
Lisa Marentette
So I take that personally.

00:03:38:18 – 00:03:54:24
Kyle Pearce
I personally would. I’m following a pattern here. Lisa, welcome. We have not met, so it’s great to meet you. Tell me a little bit about your story, who you are. We know you’re coming from John’s neighborhood, but where your teaching and your role in education.

00:03:55:01 – 00:04:17:23
Lisa Marentette
So thanks for having me. It’s very nice to meet you in person. So right now I am leaving my kindergarten post of nine years, which is a little bittersweet really. I loved the time that I spent in kindergarten. I feel like I learned more in that nine years than I did throughout the span of my career. It was such a good experience.

00:04:18:00 – 00:04:37:00
Lisa Marentette
But now it’s time to move on and take what I’ve learned and move it up to grade two. So I’m really excited about moving to grade two. It’s one of the few primary grades that I haven’t tied yet. I started out actually teaching as a second career. I was in banking for 16 years. It wasn’t fulfilling, let’s say.

00:04:37:02 – 00:04:56:22
Lisa Marentette
So I went back to school and I actually started out one year in kindergarten, but before it was the full day program and then went to grade three, spent a few years in grade six, loved grade six, and then jumped down from six to kindergarten, which was a big leap. And I find it’s hard to go from older kids to younger kids.

00:04:56:24 – 00:05:12:24
Lisa Marentette
So now I feel like I’m moving up. It’ll be a little bit easier, have a better understanding of this stage of development, what it’s like to work with kids that are under the age of eight. So I’m really excited about taking what I’ve learned so far, bringing it with me to grade you.

00:05:13:02 – 00:05:13:21
Jon Orr

00:05:13:21 – 00:05:37:07
Kyle Pearce
That is awesome. And my wife taught kindergarten for a handful of years around the time when my oldest was in kindergarten. So and they teach in a pod at their school. So she was in the pod, not teaching her directly, but she can see her from afar. And she loved it. But she would say it was very challenging for her because it was like she was putting everything into the day.

00:05:37:07 – 00:06:00:07
Kyle Pearce
But then we got home and she was like a kindergarten age child is here with me at home, and work followed her home. And when my son came in, he was much more busy. As always at that age tend to be my wife. So I think I’m going to head out into grade three. I don’t know if I quite can handle having the Lando band in that kindergarten space and at home at the same time.

00:06:00:07 – 00:06:25:09
Kyle Pearce
So she went back to her post in grade three. So kind of a similar transition here. Super interested to dig in, but before we do, we always ask every guest on the podcast to share at that moment that they remember from their own math learning journey. What is that math moment for you when we say math class or mathematics that pops into your mind?

00:06:25:11 – 00:06:47:09
Lisa Marentette
Well, you know what? I will be perfectly honest for a very, very long time. The words math class, when sort of my stomach turned, it was not my happy place for a really long time when I was younger, grades one, probably through five. I loved it. It made sense. I was keeping up. I did well in school and math wasn’t a huge challenge.

00:06:47:09 – 00:07:11:21
Lisa Marentette
And then something happened. Grade six, grade seven especially. And the one moment here we are, 35 years later, you’ll remember I still remember 40 years, honestly was asking for some help from my Grade seven teacher and him being so frustrated with me and just saying, I don’t understand why you don’t get this. You’re so good in everything else.

00:07:11:23 – 00:07:25:08
Lisa Marentette
Why don’t you get this? That did it for me. That just shattered my confidence because I thought, Well, there must be something wrong with me. If you can’t figure out why I’m not getting this, then there’s just something wrong with me. And I’m not going to know this.

00:07:25:11 – 00:07:26:08
Kyle Pearce
Oh, my gosh.

00:07:26:12 – 00:07:44:12
Lisa Marentette
Really turned things for me. I still continued. You okay in school and everything else, but I decided at that point, math isn’t for me. I’ll be a language person and I loved language, but that was it. My confidence was shattered and I assumed I was never going to be good at it.

00:07:44:14 – 00:07:45:09
Jon Orr
Wow. Yeah.

00:07:45:10 – 00:07:46:03
Kyle Pearce
That’s so bad.

00:07:46:04 – 00:08:26:04
Jon Orr
Obviously that has stuck with you. Have you remembering it after these years? And I think anyone would remember that moment that kind of shatters your confidence in something you enjoyed before that moment. Now, Lisa, you went into finance still after that. And I’m curious maybe, I guess, about that story, but more about how do you feel or maybe you’ve consciously thought about this or maybe not, maybe not consciously thought about how that moment has affected you as a teacher and thinking about did it affect your teaching style, things you think about in the classroom when working with students, do you think or could you comment on that and thinking about how that moment has kind

00:08:26:04 – 00:08:29:07
Jon Orr
of changed you or helped you become a teacher you are now?

00:08:29:09 – 00:08:53:05
Lisa Marentette
I didn’t go to Teachers College right out of university. I spent some time in banking and obviously had to use the math right. I worked in commercial mortgages and this is, oh gosh, aging myself. But there were a lot of calculations that we still had to do manually. And as long as somebody told me, here’s the formula, use this, this is what it’s going to tell you, I was like, I can follow directions, no problem.

00:08:53:07 – 00:09:20:15
Lisa Marentette
And I feel like up until that point, when I look back on it as a teacher, I think that’s why I was okay getting through school until things got complicated and there were too many directions to remember. If I could just memorize the list of directions to get the right answer. If I made a mistake and lost myself, then that’s where the wheels fell off for me, because I didn’t have a conceptual understanding of mass at that time.

00:09:20:17 – 00:09:39:24
Lisa Marentette
And so later in life, if someone just gave me the directions, told me what to do, I was like, So as a teacher, once I went to teachers college, thankfully I had a great math teacher who I think identified me as someone with math anxiety as soon as I walked in the door because he would look right at me and say, You can do this.

00:09:39:24 – 00:09:58:21
Lisa Marentette
This is okay, here’s how you’re going to make it work for kids so that they understand. So I think it was important for me to learn where kids are at and understand what they’re coming into the classroom, what kind of baggage they have around math, which I can connect to and let them know it doesn’t always have to be this way, right?

00:09:58:21 – 00:10:22:04
Lisa Marentette
I went through this and I hated it and I was really frustrated. But then I worked through it and I figured out how to do it and be confident and actually enjoy it. So I think that was something that’s really important to me to bring into the classroom and let kids know it’s okay not to like it. You don’t have to like it, but you can still be confident and know that you can do it regardless.

00:10:22:06 – 00:10:41:20
Kyle Pearce
I love it. I love it. I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it. It’s not about every student loving it. It’s not about every student wanting to become a mathematician, Right? It’s about knowing that you can do it if you choose to continue to pursue it. Right. And that to me, is the greatest success. It’s like, hey, listen, I can do it.

00:10:41:20 – 00:11:05:09
Kyle Pearce
I always say it about history class. I knew I could do history. I just didn’t really want to. And that’s okay, right? But we don’t want a student who’s feeling like I can’t do it. And your math moment really highlights, I think, an experience that a lot of people have. I’m going to say the majority of people have at some point in their journey.

00:11:05:09 – 00:11:42:14
Kyle Pearce
It just happens at a different place. So for you, it was that 6 to 7 year, right? That’s where you sort of got kicked off the bus, right? You fell off the wagon. For me, it was in university after first year university, I went into second year university. I was doing a math program and up to that point I was doing exactly what you have recognized you were doing, which was probably just mimicking and following procedures and I was just lucky enough to be able to follow more procedures then maybe you were able to do right based on maybe your short term memory or long term memory or however you were memorizing it.

00:11:42:16 – 00:12:13:05
Kyle Pearce
For me, it was second year. University is where I hit the end of the line and to me it comes down to and you nailed it. This conceptual, well understanding thing, which it’s so easy to discount it when it’s not needed, but when it’s needed, it’s too late. And this is the part that I think is so key when people talk about the whole new math thing or in the States Common Core or whatever it is, concepts, full understanding is something that you need to have it.

00:12:13:05 – 00:12:41:09
Kyle Pearce
You need to prepare yourself so that when it does get difficult that you have that conceptual foundation to land on and to be able to kind of look around and go, okay, I know where I’m at, I can back up a step or two and go, All right, move forward. But when you get too far down the line and for you in grades six and seven, you’re probably a few years down the line, conceptually or procedurally, I guess, relative to your conceptual understanding.

00:12:41:09 – 00:13:00:12
Kyle Pearce
And there was a mismatch and you’re going, oh my gosh, what do I do now? I don’t understand any of this. And then panic ensues. And the piece that I think is really sad is that up until that point you had a belief that you were a math person. Like you were saying, as a student. I think we all are Those people.

00:13:00:18 – 00:13:22:00
Kyle Pearce
Every single student felt at one point in their life that they were good at math, Right. Whether it was kindergarten, whether it’s grade one, two, whatever that is. They feel like they’re good at math. And then at some point they just suddenly it’s gone. The carpet is just ripped from under them and they’re like, maybe it was all a lie, right?

00:13:22:00 – 00:13:26:01
Kyle Pearce
And that belief, it was like it was never true. But in reality it was true. You’re right.

00:13:26:05 – 00:13:46:01
Jon Orr
Melissa, How many of your kindergartners don’t have that? Hey, I’m that maybe there are. And I feel like some of them in this probably it’s told it’s okay to be bad at math already but I mean how many kindergartners for the last nine years you’ve been seeing kindergartners every day for all that time. How many are enjoying math and not saying like, oh, it’s math, It doesn’t happen that early?

00:13:46:06 – 00:14:17:11
Lisa Marentette
No. And that’s what I loved about kindergarten. They’re not jaded yet. They are open to anything. And honestly, sometimes they don’t even realize that it is math, right? Because we incorporated rules and activities and they just think they’re playing with numbers and that it’s fun. And so it’s not until sometimes towards the end of ask when they start to become a little more self-aware and they notice when other kids are doing more than they are, because we can differentiate, right?

00:14:17:11 – 00:14:36:24
Lisa Marentette
We do things in small groups and we get to know our kids one on one. And so some kids might be ready for moving on to composing and decomposing numbers using Base ten. And some kids are still working on 1 to 1 correspondence and they notice that. And sometimes you’ll see the odd kid who’s like, Oh, I don’t want to do this and still have that option.

00:14:36:24 – 00:14:57:10
Lisa Marentette
In kindergarten. We make them try it and sit with this for a bit. But once they get frustrated and want to walk away, then they do. And those are the kids that I think we always come back around again and try and introduce it in a different way to make sure that you don’t lose them so that that confidence isn’t shattered and they have a chance to be successful.

00:14:57:11 – 00:15:24:10
Jon Orr
Right, Right. So what’s a pebble right now in your shoot? You’re leaving kindergarten after nine years moving to grade two. It’s summer. At the time of this recording, we’re kind of thinking about next year. You’re thinking about getting into the classroom. What’s on your mind? Fill us in on some of the things you’re thinking about, wonders you’re having, things that we can kind of hash together on here so that you feel you’re going to start the year off.

00:15:24:10 – 00:15:25:07
Jon Orr
In a great note.

00:15:25:09 – 00:15:46:01
Lisa Marentette
I think for me, the biggest challenge is going from having two educators in the room to one, because I don’t know, it’s just obviously and logistically it’s easier to hit every kid and have a really good understanding of where everyone is and what everyone needs when there’s Toby in the room. But just the format of lesson planning is going to be different, right?

00:15:46:03 – 00:16:09:08
Lisa Marentette
We would integrate math into pretty much anything they were doing where now it’s a more structured day. I want to make sure that I’m still able to have kids engaged in hands on things and working in small groups, but I’m not sure what does the math block look like in grade two? I mean, I know what it looked like in grade six because I loved that.

00:16:09:08 – 00:16:12:07
Lisa Marentette
But I don’t know what it’s going to look like in grade two.

00:16:12:09 – 00:16:37:09
Kyle Pearce
Well, it’s interesting. You bring up some key pieces, one that I think is maybe more important than we sometimes recognize initially, but going from two educators to one, just always having that person to not only when it comes to differentiating and maybe even classroom management and those things, but even just to have that other person to have a conversation with right when something’s happened is like so-and-so did this.

00:16:37:09 – 00:16:55:11
Kyle Pearce
And I’m not exactly sure what my move should be and that other person to just have an idea to go, Hey, why not try blank? Or you walk up to that student who was struggling and you’re saying, I’m not sure how to help them approach it and in a different way, and they’ve sort of become unproductive in this conversation.

00:16:55:11 – 00:17:22:10
Kyle Pearce
The other educator can kind of go in there and maybe try a different angle. So that’s a big one. But when it comes to this math block, the one thought that I have and it’s a wonder for you, is that what I feel a lot of especially grade one and two educators are being asked to do more of is more of what you’re good at in kindergarten and you’re kind of coming at it thinking like, how do I be more like them?

00:17:22:12 – 00:17:45:17
Kyle Pearce
Like how do I make it look more like what they’re doing right? And now I’m wondering in terms of what in your mind is really let’s say I don’t want to say holding you back, but what are you really concerned about here? Is it that you’re like, I’m going to do it wrong or I’ve got to fit a different mold?

00:17:45:23 – 00:18:10:23
Kyle Pearce
But let’s dig a little bit deeper here, because I think in a perfect world, in a grade two classroom, educators, administrators, maybe the math consultant in your district might be like, it would be amazing if you could make your grade two class operate more like a kindergarten class. So I’m wondering what’s really concern learning you right now in regards to this idea of what a math block could or should look like.

00:18:11:04 – 00:18:37:19
Lisa Marentette
Well, it’s funny that you say that, because when I did my kindergarten specialist, they always talked about how in a perfect world catered to would look very similar in all aspects of the program, but particularly in math. I think it’s the logistics of it. I know how to do it when I’m in a room. And even when we had 30 kids, they know how to engage in activities on their own.

00:18:37:19 – 00:19:01:17
Lisa Marentette
And I can be selective and find kids who were working on something that maybe I can add to, and then I just bring myself over and get involved. Right? It’s a less structured type of day and we had two years. That was the other thing. So you know what? This three year old who came in and didn’t turn forward to the end of December wasn’t ready for accounting or wasn’t interested whatsoever.

00:19:01:23 – 00:19:27:22
Lisa Marentette
So, okay, we leave him alone. Let him do something else until he is ready. But I feel like there’s more of a time crunch and there’s a lot of expectations. I was just going through the new curriculum this week and I was like, Oh, okay, well, this is a lot to fit in. How do I make sure that I’m not missing out on anything so that these kids don’t leave grade to missing some fundamental building blocks?

00:19:28:02 – 00:19:50:07
Lisa Marentette
Right? I guess I feel like there’s some pressure on me because I want to do the best for them. I don’t want to need grade two without everything that they need to be successful. And like you said, if I could do it using what I’ve learned from kindergarten, that would be ideal is just logistic glee. How will I fit it all in and make sure that I don’t miss out on anything?

00:19:50:09 – 00:19:51:12
Lisa Marentette
That’s my beef.

00:19:51:14 – 00:20:10:22
Jon Orr
And I think your beef is everybody’s beef in almost every grade. It’s that question of like, how do I prepare best for the next level? And I think we ask that. Then we immediately turn to the time issue. It’s like, I got to get all that in so that they’re ready to go to the next level. Ready, right.

00:20:10:23 – 00:20:30:18
Jon Orr
I want to structure my classroom like the next level’s going to structure their classroom so that they’re ready for that grade level. And in what we’ve found from talking with so many educators at various grades is everybody has that wonder and that worry or it’s in the back of their mind, worry anyway, and it trickles up and then it trickles back down.

00:20:30:18 – 00:20:51:12
Jon Orr
So the grade four teacher is thinking about grade five to grade five, six, seven, eight, nine. All of a sudden you’ve got grade 12 teachers thinking about university, and we’re all thinking that way, and everyone’s just thinking about getting them ready for the next level instead of thinking about what can I do to help prepare this kid where they are now and progress them forward?

00:20:51:14 – 00:21:08:13
Jon Orr
And because if we have that thinking about getting them ready for the next grade, as I said, it’s going to trickle up. And it’s like we’re just constantly thinking about that thing. And that’s where this rush to the algorithms come in. Let’s just get memorizing happening because that’s the fastest way we can build this in so that they’re ready for the next grade.

00:21:08:16 – 00:21:21:00
Jon Orr
Like that’s what they’re doing at high school anyway. So we’re all going to be trying to push these kids at high school. And high school teachers are like, I just wish I had better problem solvers. Why wouldn’t those grade eight teachers help them with better problem solving and being more resilient?

00:21:21:05 – 00:21:24:01
Kyle Pearce
It all started in grade two with Lisa.

00:21:24:03 – 00:21:45:03
Jon Orr
It’s a mystery. Everyone’s thinking they’re getting ready for the next grade. But what we need to do is actually think about how do we build that conceptual understanding and problem solving in getting kids to actually experience problems. Those are really the key things. And if we can do that for the kid that we’re working with or the kids that we’re working with that year and think about that, then they’ll be ready.

00:21:45:03 – 00:22:02:12
Jon Orr
When they get there, they’ll be that confident. We just got off the phone, Lisa, we had another interview this morning and he had that same wonder is like he was eighth grade, getting them ready to get into high school intake, say he was an American teacher. So into Algebra one, he had that same thought, How do I help them think about and go that route?

00:22:02:12 – 00:22:17:11
Jon Orr
And we just talked about how do we build kids confidence so that when they get there, they’re confident that they can continue on. And I think those are some of the things. So let me kind of bring this back to something that I can ask you. If you could think about grade two in general, what would you want?

00:22:17:16 – 00:22:37:00
Jon Orr
Say your kids think about your kid goes on to the next year, kid goes on to the next year or the next year after that. It’s a few years in a row and they were like, Hey, I remember being a mismatch in test class, and I remember that the best part or the most important thing I pulled from that class was blank, blank and blank.

00:22:37:02 – 00:22:42:10
Jon Orr
What would they say? What would you want them to say so that they were prepared to go on?

00:22:42:12 – 00:23:18:10
Lisa Marentette
I would want them to remember that they worked on problems together with other kids and that they were comfortable talking about math, not just sitting and doing a work. I want them to feel like they actually could solve problems and apply what they learned in a meaningful way. I think that’s one of the thing that still stands out for me from my Grade six experience that kids really enjoyed, and I think they got a lot out of it is sitting around a great big sheet of paper and talking to other kids and trying different strategies and then sharing what they did afterwards.

00:23:18:12 – 00:23:41:20
Lisa Marentette
Those were the moments where they learned the most. And I recognize, especially being in French Immersion, that that communication piece is a little bit more of a challenge as you come down in the grades in grade six, they’re flowing in, they’re okay with it. It does add an extra layer in grade two when you’re reminding them all the time that we want you to talk about your math.

00:23:41:22 – 00:24:08:15
Lisa Marentette
But then you also have to do it in French, right? I feel like it’s asking an awful lot of a seven and eight year old, but that’s what we signed up for right? So that’s the program. And then we have to work within those parameters. So but I would like for them to remember actually doing math and not just and talking about it and sharing it and applying what they learned in a meaningful way so that they understand this isn’t just a subject in school.

00:24:08:17 – 00:24:11:20
Lisa Marentette
We’ll use this in life and you’ll be glad that you can do it.

00:24:11:20 – 00:24:33:12
Kyle Pearce
I love those takeaways, those things I remember from Miss Marian. Text class. Right? And students, one thing you didn’t say, which I was shocked you didn’t say it, but saying, Why don’t you understand this as the memory didn’t come up? So that of course I was not anticipating you saying, But these are all very productive things for students to think about.

00:24:33:12 – 00:24:56:19
Kyle Pearce
And I want to go all the way back to your kindergarten experience that you’ve had and everything comes down to balance. And that will be, I think if there’s one word that I hope you take away from this experience or this conversation is the idea of how do I balance to bring maybe some of the things that you might envision a grade two classroom having.

00:24:56:19 – 00:25:15:21
Kyle Pearce
Right? Because that’s one of the worries that you had or one of your concerns, the pebble in your shoe. How do I do what grade two teachers do? How do I structure that? I don’t want you to go too far that way because, again, we’re trying to pull them more towards where you are in kindergarten. But then also how do I build in my kindergarten experience?

00:25:15:21 – 00:25:38:08
Kyle Pearce
But again, with balance, we don’t have the two years to come back and so forth. So it’s really going to come down to balance. And I think for you to try to decide on and you can decide how many buckets you want, but if you were to look at those, I’ll call them standards. A lot of our friends are American who listen but expectations and you were to go through them.

00:25:38:08 – 00:25:56:21
Kyle Pearce
We’ll talk maths specifically that if you had just two buckets, you could decide if you want three buckets or four buckets, but if there’s two buckets to keep it super simple of really fundamental, really important and maybe not so important, or if you’re comparing, you took two standards at a time and you’re like, Which one is more important?

00:25:56:23 – 00:26:14:22
Kyle Pearce
That one goes in the fundamental bucket. This one put it back on the table, then you pick up two more. Which one of these two is in the fundamental bucket, right? I put it in the fundamental bucket and start to get yourself to a place where you go, okay, there are some non-negotiables because I think what we tend to do is we go one way or the other.

00:26:14:22 – 00:26:38:01
Kyle Pearce
We force feed students that every expectation you’re going to understand it. Now when in a kindergarten class on the other end of the perspective or a spectrum, you have some students that they’re not ready and they’re not being productive. So you were like, We’re going to let them go. We have less time to let them go in grade two, but we still need to let them go on some things, right?

00:26:38:01 – 00:26:58:04
Kyle Pearce
So, again, coming back to this place of balance, we don’t want to force feed, but we also don’t want to let it slip where it’s just sort of like falls off the radar. But there’s certain expectations that I might be like, you know what? I’m not too concerned about that one because that one’s not going to actually impact or influence their confidence or resilin.

00:26:58:04 – 00:27:33:20
Kyle Pearce
It’s their perseverance. They’re seeing themselves as mathematicians. It’s also not going to hurt them when they go into Mr. Johnson’s class next year in grade three. But will hurt them is if they’re not very fluent and flexible with their number sense and operations and those types of things. So if we could start thinking about what really matters, that can also help you determine which part of my math block should be more structured, meaning we got to do this, and then which part of my math block can be a little more flexible, right?

00:27:33:20 – 00:27:56:05
Kyle Pearce
And it’s like this can slide a little bit. I’m not too concerned about that. And then how do I also maintain balance when it comes to some of the things you discuss, which I think are really key, having kids collaboratively, problem solving, having them having mathematical discourse about mathematics, they’re talking, they’re discussing, they’re working together, not just sitting and doing a worksheet.

00:27:56:05 – 00:28:20:04
Kyle Pearce
But I wanted to highlight that one because sometimes we translate it into never doing a worksheet and there is time where students do need to, even in grade two, to think independently. I started doing the collaborative approach to math and it was like everything was collaborative. And I realized after I’m like, Oh, that might not have been the best move, that everything was collaborative.

00:28:20:04 – 00:28:47:17
Kyle Pearce
I can give them a collaborative experience, but then I should also make sure that I’m addressing some of that independent think times, some of that purposeful practice time, some of that time for them to actually work through a problem, because as we know in collaborative situations, there are some who take the lead and there are some who take more of a backseat and sometimes they make it look like they’re driving the car, but they’re not really driving the car.

00:28:47:18 – 00:29:11:11
Kyle Pearce
Right. And so again, this balance idea, what part of my class can be less structured? What part of my class do I want to make sure there is at least enough structure so I know that they’re getting that fundamental fact or piece. And I think some of that hard work is going to be it will be an experiment for you in this first year, of course.

00:29:11:13 – 00:29:33:09
Kyle Pearce
But ahead of time, if you were to even have maybe two buckets and kind of start sorting and sifting through and you can change your mind, right? That’s the beauty, right? This one actually is more important than I thought. I’m going to put it back over here or I thought this was important. Maybe it’s not that important. I can put it back over here, but at least getting yourself really thinking about those things.

00:29:33:09 – 00:29:52:20
Kyle Pearce
And then that way, it will eliminate the overwhelm. Because I think when we look at the curriculum, we look and think all important. When I think in reality there’s not I would say 50% maybe is important, maybe not even right in terms of fundamental. Got it. Got it. Got to make sure that we’ve done it right.

00:29:52:22 – 00:30:21:23
Jon Orr
Something I think that can be I guess, less overwhelming is when you think about what those buckets can be is when you think about your strands and you have your overall expectations listed underneath those strands, you’re actually only required to report on the overall expectations. So usually these overall expectations are general, kind of like the title saying it doesn’t say being flexible and fluid with number sense, but you’ll look at those overall expectations and go, okay, these are really the big ideas from the course.

00:30:22:00 – 00:30:43:13
Jon Orr
Yes, they list specific expectations underneath, which are things that we think we have to cover in detail that I hit every single one of these. But actually we’re only required to report on the overalls so it can be kind of a little bit more freeing to go, How did I help move my students along? This progression on the overalls, these things underneath help me do that.

00:30:43:15 – 00:31:02:07
Jon Orr
But hey, the whole goal is for me to get a student from here to here or take them for whoever they are on this progression and move them along because those strands are going to be the same in grade three. It happens iteratively over the course of time for the student to kind of progress, but I think the overalls can be a little bit more freeing to go like these are the really important things.

00:31:02:09 – 00:31:26:08
Lisa Marentette
That’s really helpful. I really like the idea of the two buckets that relieves a little bit of anxiety. Everybody comes into the job. They want to do the best that they can. But you’re right, it is super overwhelming when you go through that 25 pages of expectations and think how on earth. So being able to say this is what we’re going to focus on and then those specifics might help us get there.

00:31:26:10 – 00:31:29:15
Lisa Marentette
I like that. I like that perspective. I think I’m going to try.

00:31:29:17 – 00:32:00:23
Jon Orr
Yeah, thinking about this, what Kyle kind of said is about one thing that we tend to rely heavily on is that conceptual understanding so that you can build procedural fluency. And I think many teachers think, especially when we have that trickle up, has got to get them ready. I have to get them to be doing those abstract, we call them naked problems where we give them a bunch of problems on, say, adding, multiplying or dividing and we need to crunch them into being able to do these algorithms before they get to the next grade level.

00:32:00:23 – 00:32:24:06
Jon Orr
Instead of thinking about what strategies and models can I help my students with so that they have a more robust skill set when they get to that next grade level? And I know that for me, figuring out fluency from Jennifer for Bay Williams has been a great resource to kind of help thinking about some of those models that help give you flexible strategies to use with those models.

00:32:24:08 – 00:32:29:23
Jon Orr
Now, the other book that you’ve heavily relied on, which is I think teaching mathematics.

00:32:30:03 – 00:32:35:18
Kyle Pearce
Teaching elementary and middle school mathematics, developmental or teaching developmental as well as.

00:32:35:18 – 00:32:37:02
Jon Orr
Coaching development. You got it.

00:32:37:02 – 00:33:08:14
Kyle Pearce
That’s a John Vandewalle book which actually Jennifer Bay Williams was one of the coauthors on that. And it has been updated seven or eight times. And there’s a lot of nuggets in there to just get you thinking about. And you could look at something as simple as addition. And just to give you some ideas on different models and the strategies and what’s going on, the structures they use the word structure quite a bit of how different addition or subtraction problems are structured.

00:33:08:14 – 00:33:28:23
Kyle Pearce
And the reality is I read through this book and go, Wow, I have a math degree. And I did not realize that there were different structures of addition problems or subtraction problems. But when you look at them, you go, Wow, this could be really helpful. But also it allows you to be very intentional as well so that we don’t rely on.

00:33:28:23 – 00:33:52:19
Kyle Pearce
What we tend to do is we tend to rely on the same structures. So take away, for example, four subtraction is what most people were told when they were kids. Take away is subtraction. It is one of the structures of subtraction. It is one of the types of subtraction. But there’s also the difference, which is contextually different. The difference between two numbers is not take away.

00:33:52:21 – 00:34:17:08
Kyle Pearce
You can use takeaway as a strategy, but that’s not really what you’re doing. You’re finding the distance between two numbers. You’re not taking anything away. So imagine to that student, I’m picturing you as a student who is in grades six and seven, and that teacher probably wasn’t subtraction, but imagine if that teacher’s telling you take away. But the question’s really a difference problem.

00:34:17:08 – 00:34:36:03
Kyle Pearce
And you’re going, I don’t get it. Like, what don’t you get? And you’re like, Because it doesn’t make sense what you’re saying. And the teacher has no idea what you’re talking about, Right? So this is happening all the time in math class. So that’s a great book that can arm you not to necessarily become the master before the end of summer.

00:34:36:03 – 00:35:02:06
Kyle Pearce
So you’re ready to go, but it’s like one of those things that you just little bits at a time. You just focus on a little bit at a time and that will help you to feel more confident and you will go down some rabbit holes which will get you thinking differently. And I just find that the more we focus as educators on that conceptual piece which you had already highlighted, the better we become in that the better we can be in the moment for those students, right?

00:35:02:06 – 00:35:25:09
Kyle Pearce
So when that student is struggling with a concept and they get a productive struggle has stopped, Right. You’re talking about that kindergarten student who’s kind of like, I’m all done. Sometimes the missing piece is for me to be flexible enough to be able to have that other strategy right, or to have the model to use. I came with my time frame, and the ten frame doesn’t seem to be working for him.

00:35:25:12 – 00:35:48:17
Kyle Pearce
If that’s all I got in the tank, then that’s all I got. I can’t help you any other way. So these are things that we can do as educators over time to build our conceptual understanding as we go. But it isn’t as we go process and we don’t certainly want to become overwhelmed or overburdened with that piece as well.

00:35:48:17 – 00:36:10:00
Kyle Pearce
So that’s definitely a good little read for you. So my wonder is here as we start wrapping things up, where is your head at? And I would say, what do you think is your next step? It is July 24th. As we record this here in Ontario, we start after Labor Day weekend, beginning of September. We talked about a lot of ideas.

00:36:10:00 – 00:36:21:22
Kyle Pearce
Not that do them all right away. What would you say is your immediate next step to help you get your head to the next place in this journey so you can feel like you’re going to hit the ground running here in September?

00:36:21:24 – 00:36:43:02
Lisa Marentette
I think the first thing that I will do is pull up the expectations and start my two buckets and just give myself a little bit of focus and maybe a loose framework of what I want to cover over the year, but really just focus on the first two months, which in that bucket are going to be the priority.

00:36:43:02 – 00:37:06:17
Lisa Marentette
Which ones maybe are easy wins for kids to build a little bit of confidence at the beginning of the year. I think that’s I’ll start off with I’m not going to overwhelm myself with planning in detail the entire year loose framework of what are the priorities for the year and focus on the first two months, build some confidence and obviously I’m going to pick up that book, start reading some.

00:37:06:19 – 00:37:09:01
Jon Orr
We’ll drop it off. We’ll drop it off. We have it here.

00:37:09:06 – 00:37:13:23
Kyle Pearce
Yeah, I was just going to say I’ve got an extra copy here kicking around that we’d be happy to share.

00:37:14:01 – 00:37:16:12
Jon Orr
I’m on my way out to Rondo tonight.

00:37:16:14 – 00:37:21:19
Lisa Marentette
Oh, hey, I’ve got a bag of stuff that I forgot at my house that you can pick up from.

00:37:21:20 – 00:37:22:01
Kyle Pearce
There you.

00:37:22:01 – 00:37:45:12
Jon Orr
Go. That’s the great thing. Immediate next step. And I think one more thought. I think you probably know this one already is to think about how to keep your grade two class structurally like a kindergarten class. We’re constantly trying to think about how to teach our high school classes that way and present problems and get kids engaged in problems in play with math so that we can consolidate.

00:37:45:12 – 00:38:01:08
Jon Orr
And T-Boz at the end and present the strategies and the models, then I think keeping that in mind as you go into kind of the structure part of what your class looks like, how can you gauge kids in playing with the mathematics that you want to bring about, say, at the end of the lesson or the middle of the lesson?

00:38:01:08 – 00:38:05:09
Jon Orr
I think that can be a good kind of framework as well to think about structuring that class.

00:38:05:15 – 00:38:23:11
Lisa Marentette
Yep, that is definitely the plan. I mean, that’s what I loved about kindergarten and I always believe that this needs to go beyond kindergarten. There’s so many kids who could benefit from it all the way to grade two and probably beyond. But I don’t want them to lose out as they left the kindergarten classroom.

00:38:23:13 – 00:38:50:15
Kyle Pearce
Yeah, no, I love it. I love it. That’s great. And definitely it would be a shame if, let’s say you’re trying to make it look like a traditional grade two class because you got a lot of great things going on. And I would say again, that focus on balance, I love your next step. I think that’s going to really help you get your head focused on more that matters and just eliminate maybe some of the overwhelm for your next steps.

00:38:50:16 – 00:39:10:11
Kyle Pearce
I’m wondering, Lisa, is it all right if maybe after next school year, if we were to have another conversation, maybe it’s next summer? I don’t know. But would you be open to letting us know how things went and what worked? Well, what surprised you? There’s going to be many of those and maybe chat about some next steps at that point.

00:39:10:15 – 00:39:13:16
Lisa Marentette
Yeah, absolutely. I would love to do that for sure.

00:39:13:20 – 00:39:24:07
Jon Orr
Awesome. Thanks. We’ll obviously we keeping in contact as we normally do. But thanks, Lisa, so much for joining us on this episode. And go enjoy that college.

00:39:24:09 – 00:39:29:15
Lisa Marentette
I will. I’m just watching the birds out on the lake and I think it’s time to get a kayak over there.

00:39:29:17 – 00:39:30:14
Kyle Pearce
You there you go.

00:39:30:15 – 00:39:32:08
Jon Orr
Beautiful. Thanks so much.

00:39:32:10 – 00:39:33:24
Kyle Pearce
Take care, my friend. Nice to meet you.

00:39:34:05 – 00:39:35:21
Lisa Marentette
Take care.

00:39:35:23 – 00:39:44:01
Jon Orr
All right there, folks. We hope you enjoyed that conversation. And what I love about Lisa, being a great friend of mine.

00:39:44:07 – 00:39:47:02
Kyle Pearce
I was just going to say a neighbor. But she’s your neighbor. That’s what.

00:39:47:02 – 00:40:21:17
Jon Orr
It is. She’s taking time out of her summer to think about her coming year. I think we all do that when we think about that kind of programing. It’s always in the back of our mind when we’re thinking that way. But she’s obviously very reflective. And when I think about our six parts of our classroom tree in this particular episode, we talked about probably all parts indirectly, but specifically the part of the tree that kind of stands out most to me right now are the branches of the tree, which are her pedagogical moves she’s thinking about What does that structurally look like in the classroom?

00:40:21:21 – 00:40:46:08
Jon Orr
She’s coming from a play based kindergarten classroom and she’s thinking about what are my moves to take that in, emulate that in my grade two classroom. And I think she was really looking for some permission to continue that in that grade two classroom and go like, Hey, do I have to structure it this way? Or how do I make that balanced approach to thinking about what those teacher moves are to and keep that learning going?

00:40:46:08 – 00:41:03:21
Jon Orr
And kind of I think the other part of the tree that we kind of, you know, brought into this conversation was the roots of the tree. This knowledge and knowing your curriculum and knowing your curriculum deep enough to be able to point and notice and name the things so that you can say, Hey, what’s the most important here?

00:41:03:21 – 00:41:23:03
Jon Orr
What of these ideas all across? We got all these standards to cover this year. Well, what’s the most important? And I think knowing our curriculum at that conceptual level helps us pick out those really important topics to cover and streamline. So after this conversation, I think Lisa did is on her way to kind of thinking about giving herself permission to structure a classroom.

00:41:23:03 – 00:41:38:15
Jon Orr
The way she wants to structure it. But also I think it gave for, you know, she, I think, felt less overwhelmed with all the stuff she needs to cover to get those students ready for the grade three classroom and going, I really only need to focus on these really big ideas and I think everything seems okay.

00:41:38:17 – 00:41:59:09
Kyle Pearce
I love it. I love it. I definitely agree with you. The branches, the roots, the part that might go under the radar a little bit here is how strong the limbs of her tree are, and that is her own personal professional development planning. Right. Like she’s been thinking about these things and she’s been looking for ways that she can build upon.

00:41:59:14 – 00:42:23:04
Kyle Pearce
How does she strengthen the branches? How does she strengthen the roots? And now she’s been pointed to a couple of resources and she’s ultimately going to do a little bit more self-directed learning. And that is going to be helpful for her as she enters into this new part of her journey. So I’m super curious to check in with her at the end of this school year to see how things went.

00:42:23:04 – 00:42:46:19
Kyle Pearce
I’m sure she’s going to learn a ton. She’s going to fall and hopefully pick herself back up, dust yourself off, learn from the experience. And I bet by this time next year when she’s entering into her second year in grade two, I’m sure she’s going to now have all these new revelations, all these new ideas and things that she thought would be true, that weren’t true, and vice versa.

00:42:46:19 – 00:43:12:18
Kyle Pearce
So really excited to dig in there. So, friends, what was your big takeaway? As we’ve mentioned before, ratings and reviews are so critical to helping to keep a podcast moving forward. We are in the top point 5% of podcasts in the world, which is fantastic. It’s amazing. That means we have tons and tons of people listening and in from all over the world.

00:43:12:24 – 00:43:39:12
Kyle Pearce
But one thing that we don’t have a massive amount of are those ratings and reviews, and we really want to make sure that we can help more educators so we can help more students. We have a goal to reach 1 million students, to help them look at math more productively, to give them that productive disposition, the math, content, knowledge and understanding, the conceptual understanding that we all wish we had when we were going through school.

00:43:39:18 – 00:43:59:16
Kyle Pearce
So do us that solid, open up that app, hit your rating. It could be whatever rating you choose, whatever you think is fair, and leave us a 1 to 3 sentence review. And that’s going to tell the podcast gods out there to share it with more people so that we can build this math moment maker community.

00:43:59:22 – 00:44:23:11
Jon Orr
Hey folks, this was a mentoring moment episode and we’d love for you to be our next mentoring moment. Guest All you have to do is head on over to make math moments dot com session mentor that’s MC math moments dot com for such mentor. We’ve got a button there for you to click and pick a time slot chat with us about a current pebble that’s rattling around in your shoe and then we’ll figure that out together.

00:44:23:11 – 00:44:38:09
Jon Orr
And then hopefully at the end of that call, you’ll be feeling refreshed, you’ll be feeling less overwhelmed, kind of like Lisa did here today so that you can go to the classroom and rocket so head on over to make math Monster.com boards mentor. We want to chat with you.

00:44:38:11 – 00:44:56:23
Kyle Pearce
Some shownotes links to resources and transcripts all available over at make map moments dot com forward slash episode 250 that is MC math moments dot com forward slash Episode 250. Until next time my friends I am Kyle Pearce.

00:44:57:00 – 00:44:57:13
Jon Orr
And I’m Jon Orr.

00:44:57:13 – 00:45:00:19
Kyle Pearce
High fives for us.

00:45:00:21 – 00:45:06:08
Jon Orr
And a high five for you.


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The Making Math Moments That Matter Podcast with Kyle Pearce & Jon Orr
Weekly interviews, strategy, and advice for building a math classroom that you wish you were in.


Download the 2-page printable 3 Act Math Tip Sheet to ensure that you have the best start to your journey using 3 Act math Tasks to spark curiosity and fuel sense making in your math classroom!

3 Act Math Tip Sheet


Each lesson consists of:

Each Make Math Moments Problem Based Lesson consists of a Teacher Guide to lead you step-by-step through the planning process to ensure your lesson runs without a hitch!

Each Teacher Guide consists of:

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Each Make Math Moments Problem Based Lesson begins with a story, visual, video, or other method to Spark Curiosity through context.

Students will often Notice and Wonder before making an estimate to draw them in and invest in the problem.

After student voice has been heard and acknowledged, we will set students off on a Productive Struggle via a prompt related to the Spark context.

These prompts are given each lesson with the following conditions:

  • No calculators are to be used; and,
  • Students are to focus on how they can convince their math community that their solution is valid.

Students are left to engage in a productive struggle as the facilitator circulates to observe and engage in conversation as a means of assessing formatively.

The facilitator is instructed through the Teacher Guide on what specific strategies and models could be used to make connections and consolidate the learning from the lesson.

Often times, animations and walk through videos are provided in the Teacher Guide to assist with planning and delivering the consolidation.

A review image, video, or animation is provided as a conclusion to the task from the lesson.

While this might feel like a natural ending to the context students have been exploring, it is just the beginning as we look to leverage this context via extensions and additional lessons to dig deeper.

At the end of each lesson, consolidation prompts and/or extensions are crafted for students to purposefully practice and demonstrate their current understanding. 

Facilitators are encouraged to collect these consolidation prompts as a means to engage in the assessment process and inform next moves for instruction.

In multi-day units of study, Math Talks are crafted to help build on the thinking from the previous day and build towards the next step in the developmental progression of the concept(s) we are exploring.

Each Math Talk is constructed as a string of related problems that build with intentionality to emerge specific big ideas, strategies, and mathematical models. 

Make Math Moments Problem Based Lessons and Day 1 Teacher Guides are openly available for you to leverage and use with your students without becoming a Make Math Moments Academy Member.

Use our OPEN ACCESS multi-day problem based units!

Make Math Moments Problem Based Lessons and Day 1 Teacher Guides are openly available for you to leverage and use with your students without becoming a Make Math Moments Academy Member.

MMM Unit - Snack Time Fractions Unit


Partitive Division Resulting in a Fraction

Shot Put Multi Day Problem Based Unit - Algebraic Substitution


Equivalence and Algebraic Substitution

Wooly Worm Race - Representing and Adding Fractions


Fractions and Metric Units


Scavenger Hunt - Data Management and Finding The Mean


Represent Categorical Data & Explore Mean

Downloadable resources including blackline mastershandouts, printable Tips Sheetsslide shows, and media files do require a Make Math Moments Academy Membership.


Pedagogically aligned for teachers of K through Grade 12 with content specific examples from Grades 3 through Grade 10.

In our self-paced, 12-week Online Workshop, you'll learn how to craft new and transform your current lessons to Spark Curiosity, Fuel Sense Making, and Ignite Your Teacher Moves to promote resilient problem solvers.