Celebrate: Unexpected Connections

This week I want to celebrate an unexpected connection.

This week I was listening to the amazing and sometimes overwhelming Good to Great Voxer chat. I happened to listen to something that I might have skipped over. It was about Number Talks.  I could have passed over the link; I don’t teach math. But this week I had the time to listen to a few.

I saw the seven dots as a square of four with a line through it.

I was fascinated, and a little ashamed that I had no knowledge of this beautiful work. Turns out my colleagues who teach math use this strategy all the time. Interesting how it took my Voxer friend, Christina Nosek in San Francisco to clue me into something that is going on two doors down from me. It makes me think about how I listen to the world. But that’s another blog post.

This post, for this week, is about how math work informed my literacy work.

Thursday my students and I were talking about the many ways we can write about reading. How readers can be reading the same thing and have different ways of seeing it and writing about it. Right then in that discussion, the seven dots popped into my head. How we see the world varies. How we see the text varies.

The next day I read this passage from our read aloud,  Deltora Quest #1: The Forests of Silence, by Emily Rodda.

The cart that collected the food scraps would be of no use to him. Prandine must have guessed that Jarred had used it to escape, because it was no longer permitted to enter the palace. These days it waited between the two sets of gates while guards loaded it with sacks.

I stopped and asked them to sketch or envision this scene. I told them thumbs up when you’re you’ve got it. Then I asked them to describe what they saw so I could sketch it on the board.


Some described iron gates, others, wooden slates. Some saw the gates arching; others spiked at the top. Some saw the doors slightly open; others saw the lock. Some just saw the bags of food scraps; some were seeing the apple cores inside the bag. Some saw the guards with a frown and a metal helmet.

We read on.

Its walls were lined with stone. In wonder, Jarred realized that he had found the entrance to a tunnel. Scurry, mouse, Into your house … He knew what he must do. He lay flat on his stomach and wriggled into the hole, pulling himself forward on his elbows until the space broadened and his way became easier. So now the mouse is in the mouse hole, he thought grimly, as he crawled along in the darkness. Let us hope that no cat is waiting at the other end. For a short time the tunnel sloped downwards, then it became more level and Jarred realized that he was moving through the center of the hill.

Students had to do some thinking work. They used their notebooks.

We all see the text differently.

This week I saw dots differently. The dots connected, unexpectedly. This week I celebrate those unexpected connections.

Read more celebrations here on Ruth Ayers blog Discover, Play, Build.

6 thoughts on “Celebrate: Unexpected Connections

  1. Once again you show how reflective you are, not just admiring something new but instantly thinking how to learn from it. Isn’t it wonderful when we learn from unexpected places? I am reading Jo Boaler’s Mathematical Mindsets and love it.

  2. Thanks for sharing your celebrations this week. I want to go back and listen to the number talk-we’ve been trying to figure out the best way to teach number sense so the students in the primary grades have a deeper mathematical understanding…Jo Boaler has been one of the resources we have used-one of the articles we used talked about math learning and there’s no such thing as a math brain!
    Here’s the link to the article: http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2015/11/30/not-a-math-person-how-to-remove-obstacles-to-learning-math/

  3. I do enjoy that you make connections in many places and that it helps inform your teaching, Julieanne. This particular post makes me feel as if it’s a great lesson that so empowered each of your students, that each has a unique POV, and that’s okay. Thanks for sharing the number video too, exciting to see.

  4. I love the way you made the connections and then led us to capture these connections too! Thank you for writing and writing and writing. My world is better because of it.

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