Back With a New Look!

It took a while, and now Mustang Monday is back.  I wanted to make it more visually appealing and easier to read-let me know what you think.

I’ll continue to share interesting and relevant articles and excerpts, along with important dates of note.

This past week’s Marshall Memo had two very substantial items of interest.  I thought the below excerpt from an article from the November issue of Educational Leadership entitled “Code Red: The Danger of Data-Driven Instruction” by Susan Neuman was particularly thought provoking:

Broaden the definition of data. Defining it as “recorded information on student learning” is too narrow, Neuman came to believe. Teachers should be looking for “the looks on students’ faces, the tenor of a rich discussion, or the smiles and signs of joy when students are learning something new,” she says. “For the highly capable teacher, these observations are data. In fact, these observations may be the most valuable data for helping us understand what students – especially struggling readers – are telling us.”

The article below on the importance of using correct mathematical language makes a very important point- take the time to look at the suggestions in relation to the language you find yourself using with the students to see if there are areas where more clarity and precision would be helpful. A faculty conversation about where we are in this area would be very worthwhile for vertical K-4 consistency and common language across grade levels.

Using Correct Mathematical Language Through the Grades

In this article in Teaching Exceptional Children, Elizabeth Hughes (Duquesne University) and Sarah Powell and Elizabeth Stevens (University of Texas/Austin) give an example of how even a well-meaning teacher can further handicap a student with a mathematics disability. During a fractions unit, Jack’s teacher refers to the numerator as the “top number” and the denominator as the “bottom number.” When Jack takes the end-of-chapter test, one item asks, What is the least common denominator of 1/2 and 2/5? Jack answers, “1.” When questioned about his incorrect answer, he says, “I know how to find the least common bottom number!”

Despite hundreds of hours of multi-tiered support each year, students like Jack continue to score in the bottom quartile on standardized tests. Hughes, Powell, and Stevens believe using imprecise or oversimplified mathematics language may be part of the explanation. By the end of first grade, there are over 105 novel math vocabulary terms that children are expected to know. By fifth grade, there are more than 325. “Mathematics vocabulary is often difficult for children because many terms have meanings in general English and meanings specific to mathematics,” say the authors – for example, factor and product. “Children should learn mathematics skills in accurate contexts that provide a solid foundation on which to build more complex skills in later grades… Because clear and concise mathematical language sets children up for success, educators in subsequent grade levels may not have to reteach so many misconceptions related to language and rules.”

Hughes, Powell, and Stevens provide specific suggestions for precise language in five areas of the mathematics curriculum. For their detailed explanations, please see the full article linked below.

Counting and cardinality:

  • – Instead of 1 is the first number, say Let’s start counting with 1 or 0.
  • – Instead of And the last one is 10, say, …8, 9, 10. We’ll stop counting there, but we could count more.
  • – Instead of …7, 8, 9, and 10, say …7, 8, 9, 10…

Numbers and operations in base 10:

  • – Instead of What number is in the tens place? say What digit is in the tens place? What is the value of the digit 4 in the tens place?
  • – Instead of Five hundred and twenty-nine, say Five hundred twenty-nine.
  • – Instead of Make up or Break apart, say Compose or Decompose.
  • – Instead of The alligator eats the bigger number, say Less than or greater than.
  • – Instead of Bigger number or Smaller number, say Number that is greater and Number that is less.
  • – Instead of Equals, say, The same as.
  • – Instead of When adding, your answer is always bigger, when subtracting, your answer is always smaller, ask children to predict and reason.
  • – Instead of Carry or Borrow, say Regroup or Trade or Exchange.

Numbers and operations with rational numbers:

  • – Instead of Numbers in the fraction, say This fraction is a number.
  • – Instead of Top number and Bottom number, say Numerator and Denominator.
  • – Instead of 2 over 3, say Two-thirds.
  • – Instead of Line, say Fraction bar or Slash.
  • – Instead of Reduce, say Rename or Find an equivalent fraction.
  • – Instead of Three point four, say Three and four tenths.
  • – Instead of Move the decimal point over, demonstrate the process within Base 10.
  • – Instead of Three out of four, say Three to four.


  • – Instead of Box or Ball, say Square/rectangle or Circle.
  • – Instead of Square (for any rectangular shape), say Rectangle.
  • – Instead of Corner, say Angle.
  • – Instead of Side or Angle (to describe 3D shapes), say Edge, Face, or Vertex/Vertices.
  • – Instead of Point, say Vertex.
  • – Instead of These are the same shape, say These shapes are similar.
  • – Instead of These shapes are the same, say These shapes are congruent.
  • – Instead of Flips, Slides, and Turns, say Reflections, Translations, and Rotations.
  • – Instead of Stretch or Shrink, say Dilation.


  • – Instead of Long hand and Short hand, say Minute hand and Hour hand.
  • – Instead of Less versus Fewer, say Less or Fewer.
  • – Instead of Bigger or Larger, say Greater.
  • – Instead of This is 2 centimeters long, say The length of this side is 2 centimeters.
  • – Instead of Weight and mass (used interchangeably), say Weight (for the pull of gravity on an object) or Mass (the amount of matter in an object).
  • – Instead of Capacity and Volume (used interchangeably), say Capacity (liquid measurement) and Volume (the space of an object).
  • – Instead of Chart and Graph (used interchangeably), say Chart (presents data in an interpretable manner) and Graph (presents exact numerical data).
  • – Instead of Picture and pictograph (used interchangeably), say Pictograph (a graph with pictures to represent a single or multiple items).

“Supporting Clear and Concise Mathematics Language” by Elizabeth Hughes, Sarah Powell, and Elizabeth Stevens in Teaching Exceptional Children, September/October 2016 (Vol. 49, #1, p. 7-17),; Hughes is at

Notable Noticings

Have you noticed anything notable?  Send it to me and I’ll include it here, as well!

  • The 4th grade book talks at PBIS assembly
  • 1st graders’ uncontained excitement building benches for pumpkins in science-we need to bottle that level of enthusiasm for learning
  • 4th graders working on challenging and novel math problems collaboratively- finding the patterns together and making predictions based on that new learning
  • 3rd graders’ complete engagement and joy in the read aloud work from Because of Winn Dixie
  • 2nd graders’ use of “hide zero” cards in building numbers and understanding expanded notation
  • Kindergartners joining me in a spontaneous shared reading of a much beloved cumulative Halloween story that they heard many times before
  • Whole school singing of “Our Door is Always Open” at the PBIS assembly- goose bumps!
  • The always-evolving,  creative activities that take place during PE class
  • The commitment to safety and willingness to go the extra mile from the reading staff at parent pick up dismissal
  • A community joyfully celebrating together!

Upcoming Events


  • Morning session- Individual Choice sign up
  • Afternoon session- Next Generation Standards presentation/School Improvement Plan share
  • There will also be enough time for staff to work on SLOs
Thursday, November 10th- Leadership Team meeting-4:00-5:00 pm


Friday, November 11th- Veterans Day Assembly-10:00 am

  • Please remind students to bring in donations for Home for the Brave by November 9
Monday, November 14-Friday, November 18- SLO meetings-  
  •  I will be scheduling 45 min release time sessions to work with you on SLOs and class student reading goals-schedule to be shared this week
Thursday, November 17th-STEAM Night-6:00-7:30 pm
Friday, November 18th- Forbes Flyer Jump Rope presentation- 1:30 pm
  • We will be operating with an Early dismissal schedule
  • Recess will take place after the presentation-schedule to be distributed

Tuesday, November 22- Early Dismissal PD Day

Wednesday, December 14th- Winter Concert/Glitter and Gold evening event

 Upcoming Faculty Meetings

Wednesday, November 9th- SLOs and Student Goal Setting planning

Wednesday, November 16th- STEAM Night Preparation/Collab Time

Wednesday, November 23rd- Staff Breakfast- hosted by Special Education staff


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