January 2020 - Down River Resources | Your Elementary Math Guide
Josh's Funk's How to Code a Rollercoaster is the best book to celebrate Multicultural Children's Book Day that inspires the newest generation of young female mathematicians and scientists. Sarah Palacios provides beautiful illustrations that combined with Funk's tale give a duo of kids the rollercoaster ride of their dreams.  Who doesn't love a rollercoaster?! Well, the idea of one is pretty cool when you're a kid! This is a great read aloud for elementary math and science classrooms that will get your eager mathematicians and scientists, ages 4 through 12, into coding! 

Use How to Code a Rollercoaster to Celebrate Multicultural Children's Book Day

Use How to Code a Rollercoaster to Celebrate Multicultural Children's Book Day

Join Pearl and her trusty robot, Pascal as they adventure during a day at an amusement park! They’re excited to play games, eat ice cream, and, of course, ride all the rollercoasters. There’s just one problem: the Python Coaster, the biggest and best ride in the park, also has the longest line. Can Pearl and Pascal use CODE to help them get a seat on the giant coaster? By mastering the use of variables, sequences, loops, conditionals, and more, this duo just might get the ride of their dreams—while having the time of their lives.

With world-renowned computer science nonprofit Girls Who Code, author and software engineer, Josh Funk and Pura Belpre Honor recipient, Sara Palacios use giggle-worthy humor and bright artwork to introduce kids to the fun of coding. Girls Who Code is on a mission to close the gender gap in technology and to change the image of what a programmer looks like and does.

As a female teacher, leader within the schools, and mother to two young daughters, I am fully in support of closing the gender gap. 

I want to personally thank the talented Josh Funk from Penguin Random House Books for sending me a copy of this book as I love to advocate for the use of high-quality picture books in elementary math and science classrooms around Texas and beyond. I only share books that I've read, used with children, and love with you!

The first page of text invites the reader into an exciting amusement park featuring a collection of multicultural guests, young and old. Pearl, the eager female main character is determined to have to best day ever as she uses code to keep track of how many tokens she has to use while at the park.

For coding novices, like myself or my young mathematicians and scientists, this book introduces the basics of coding. This is a great read aloud to create shared knowledge on the foundations of programming. It includes many programming concepts, including code, variables, loops, the if-then-loop, sequence, among others, that are easily accessible to all students.

Vocabulary for How to Code a Rollercoaster: code, variable, loop, if-then-loop, sequence

Whether you use this book as an introduction to programming unit, study of variables, or use it to celebrate diversity in the math and science community, your students will enjoy this amusing tale about Pearl and Pascal.

This book was selected for review as part of a larger celebration, Multicultural Children's Book Day. 

Please see the following for more information about this special event that all educators can benefit from, including how to get involved and many FREE resources.

Multicultural Children's Book Day 2020

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020 (1/31/20) is in its seventh year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators. Seven years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues.

MCBD 2020 is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board:

Super Platinum
Make A Way Media/ Deirdre “DeeDee” Cummings

Language Lizard, Pack-N-Go Girls


Audrey Press, Lerner Publishing Group, KidLit TV, ABDO BOOKS: A Family of Educational Publishers, PragmaticMom & Sumo Jo, Candlewick Press


Author Charlotte Riggle, Capstone Publishing, Guba Publishing, Melissa Munro Boyd & B is for Breathe,

Author Carole P. Roman, Snowflake Stories/Jill Barletti, Vivian Kirkfield & Making Their Voices Heard. Barnes Brothers Books, TimTimTom, Wisdom Tales Press, Lee & Low Books, Charlesbridge Publishing, Barefoot Books Talegari Tales

Author Sponsor Link Cloud
Jerry Craft, A.R. Bey and Adventures in Boogieland, Eugina Chu & Brandon goes to Beijing, Kenneth Braswell & Fathers Incorporated, Maritza M. Mejia & Luz del mes_Mejia, Kathleen Burkinshaw & The Last Cherry Blossom, SISSY GOES TINY by Rebecca Flansburg and B.A. Norrgard, Josh Funk and HOW TO CODE A ROLLERCOASTER, Maya/Neel Adventures with Culture Groove, Lauren Ranalli, The Little Green Monster: Cancer Magic! By Dr. Sharon Chappell, Phe Lang and Me On The Page, Afsaneh Moradian and Jamie is Jamie, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, TUMBLE CREEK PRESS, Nancy Tupper Ling, Author Gwen Jackson, Angeliki Pedersen & The Secrets Hidden Beneath the Palm Tree, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 by Mia Wenjen, Susan Schaefer Bernardo & Illustrator Courtenay Fletcher (Founders of Inner Flower Child Books), Ann Morris & Do It Again!/¡Otra Vez!, Janet Balletta and Mermaids on a Mission to Save the Ocean, Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo & Bruna Bailando por el Mundo\ Dancing Around the World, Shoumi Sen & From The Toddler Diaries, Sarah Jamila Stevenson, Tonya Duncan and the Sophie Washington Book Series, Teresa Robeson & The Queen of Physics, Nadishka Aloysius and Roo The Little Red TukTuk, Girlfriends Book Club Baltimore & Stories by the Girlfriends Book Club, Finding My Way Books, Diana Huang & Intrepids, Five Enchanted Mermaids, Elizabeth Godley and Ribbon’s Traveling Castle, Anna Olswanger and Greenhorn, Danielle Wallace & My Big Brother Troy, Jocelyn Francisco and Little Yellow Jeepney, Mariana Llanos & Kutu, the Tiny Inca Princess/La Ă‘usta Diminuta, Sara Arnold & The Big Buna Bash, Roddie Simmons & Race 2 Rio, DuEwa Frazier & Alice’s Musical Debut, Veronica Appleton & the Journey to Appleville book series Green Kids Club, Inc.

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts
A Crafty Arab, Afsaneh Moradian, Agatha Rodi Books, All Done Monkey, Barefoot Mommy, Bethany Edward & Biracial Bookworms, Michelle Goetzl & Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms Share, Colours of Us, Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, Educators Spin on it, Shauna Hibbitts-creator of eNannylink, Growing Book by Book, Here Wee Read, Joel Leonidas & Descendant of Poseidon Reads {Philippines}, Imagination Soup, Kid World Citizen, Kristi’s Book Nook, The Logonauts, Mama Smiles, Miss Panda Chinese, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Serge Smagarinsky {Australia}, Shoumi Sen, Jennifer Brunk & Spanish Playground, Katie Meadows and Youth Lit Reviews

FREE RESOURCES from Multicultural Children’s Book Day

TWITTER PARTY! Register here!

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

I hope this post inspires you to check out How to Code a Rollercoaster and the many resources available for Multicultural Children's Book Day!

What are your favorite books that celebrate diversity in the classroom?

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Discourse is the mathematical communication that occurs in a classroom. Utilizing discourse in the math classroom can be challenging. You may already be thinking: How can I get my students to explain their thinking? Effective discourse happens when students articulate their own ideas and seriously consider their peers’ mathematical perspectives as a way to construct mathematical understandings.

Encouraging students to construct their own mathematical understanding through discourse is an effective way to teach mathematics, especially since the role of the teacher has transformed from being a transmitter of knowledge to one who presents worthwhile and engaging mathematical tasks.

We can find ways to encourage eager mathematicians to share their ideas and to engage with others about their ideas by following three research-based recommendations:

  1. Clarify mathematicians’ ideas in a variety of ways.
  2. Emphasize reasoning.
  3. Encourage mathematician-to-mathematician dialogue. 

The Best Three Ways to Encourage Effective Discourse in Math

The Best 3 Ways to Encourage Effective Discourse in Math

Think about all of the interactions among all the participants that occur throughout a math lesson--in the whole-class setting, in small groups, between pairs of children, and with the teacher. We will dive in deep today to learn the BEST three ways to encourage effective math discourse in your classroom.

Students working together in math as they use discourse.Clarify mathematicians’ ideas in a variety of ways.

Clarification is important for English learners because it reinforces language and enhances comprehension. We often think of using this skill in reading, but it’s equally important in mathematics!

Here’s some practical ways to use clarification in the classroom: 
  • Restate ideas as questions to verify what mathematicians did. This allow also them to confirm what you’ve heard or observed. 
  • Apply precise language and make significant ideas more apparent.
  • Look for opportunities to clarify questions to ensure that ALL students understand ideas and reasoning.
  • Ask others to restate someone else’s ideas in their own words. This expresses ideas in a variety of ways and encourages listening to one another.
  • Use teacher prompting. (See examples in the photo below.)

When we pay attention to mathematicians’ ideas, we send a message that their ideas are valued. This is the key to encouraging participation of individual mathematicians.

Clarifying Math Ideas : Encourage Effective Discourse in Math

Emphasize reasoning.

Getting mathematicians to explain their reasoning is hard at first! Reasoning helps mathematicians understand their own thinking and the thinking of others. As they communicate about ideas, mathematicians will make connections between relational understanding and move towards mathematical proficiency.

Here’s some practical ways to use reasoning in the classroom: 
  • Ask follow-up questions whether answers are correct or incorrect to place an emphasis on the reasoning process. This is to help mathematicians understand the others’ thinking.
  • Follow-up on both correct and incorrect answers to reduce anxiety. We do not want students only having to explain wrong answers!
  • Move mathematicians to more conceptually based explanations when able. 
  • Ask mathematicians what they think of the idea proposed by another.
  • Ask mathematicians if they see connections between two of their ideas OR an idea and a concept previously discussed.
  • Use teacher prompting. (See examples in the photo below.)

Explain Math Reasoning: Encourage Effective Discourse in Math

Encourage mathematician-to-mathematician dialogue.

We wants eager mathematicians to think of themselves as capable of making sense of math. We do not want them to rely on teacher as the keeper of all knowledge. Encouraging student-to-student dialogue can help build this positive sense of self.

Here’s some practical ways to use student dialogue in the classroom:

  • When mathematicians have different solutions, ask them to discuss one another’s solutions.
  • Ask someone to rephrase another mathematician’s ideas or add something further to someone else’s ideas.
  • Before a whole class discussion, have mathematicians practice their explanations with a peer. {This supports ALL mathematicians.}
  • Use teacher prompting. (See examples in the photo below.)

Mathematicians are more likely to question one another’s ideas than the teacher’s ideas.

Encourage Student-to-Student Dialogue: Encourage Effective Discourse in Math

The value of student talk throughout a math lesson cannot be overemphasized. As mathematicians share their approaches, describe and evaluate tasks, and make conjectures, learning will occur in ways that are otherwise unlikely to take place.

Remember, whoever is talking is doing the learning. Will it be you or your mathematicians?

I hope you use the suggestions recommended in any of the three ways to encourage effective discourse in math.

How are you currently using discourse in your classroom? 
What recommendation would you like to add to your repertoire?

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Students working together using math discourse.

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