Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Math-It's What's for Breakfast - Day One

Umm, what was I thinking? It is 8:05 A.M. on my first official day of summer vacation. Here I sit in a school cafeteria, learning about how to teach MATH! It is start of the 2017 Summer Math Institute. I have attended several of these in the past and gotten tons out of them, but only as a participant. Somewhere along the way my name was submitted to TEACH the class this year.

Our first order of business was an ice breaker called Math Mingle. Think of those fresh faces on the first day of school full of interest, yet still doubtful. Ask them to stand up and introduce themselves to other people in the room, a.k.a. mingle. After a brief period call "Freeze" and give them a task to solve such as: "Make a group of people that share the same number of letters in their first name." Students will arrange themselves into groups by calling out numbers or holding up fingers, etc. Once that is settled ask them to start mingling again and repeat the process. Depending on the age of your students you can create appropriate math level tasks. Since I teach Fourth Grade I could ask my class to "Form groups that equal the same number of cups in 2 quarts," or "Form groups that has the same number of equal sides as an isosceles triangle."

Next was a 5-minute game of Math Pictionary. One person is given a card with 18 grade level appropriate terms on it. They will draw each term without speaking, trying to get their team to say the correct word. A point is scored for each correct guess. Extra point is given at the end if the drawer used no numbers or words in their drawing. You can use this as another ice breaker to see how much they already know or retained from last year. You could also use this as a review once you are finished a new unit.

Here is a suggested vocabulary list for the beginning of Fourth Grade:

1. Commutative Property 2. Array 3. Isosceles Triangle 4. Pictograph 5. Fraction 6. Elapsed Time 7. Tens Place 8. Rounding 9. Sum 10.

Time for some professional development. We read an article on the research behind introducing algebra at the elementary level and shared sentences, phrases, and words that stood out to us. It was interesting to think that primary students could still reason out answers to expressions that ask them to solve for unknowns without any direct instruction.

Now we are thinking about Vertical Progression of a standard. Our county has broken down each standard and provided Achievement Level Descriptors in grades 3-5. They are finalizing the K-2 as we speak. We were given a table with Emerging, Developing, Proficient, and Distinguished. The standard was broken into each category onto small cards. Our table was charged with the task to organize them into the correct categories. We were successful at our table, by the way. It's important to think about how students are performing on each standard as you form groups and assign tasks. This is a great way to create your small groups and differentiate according to their strengths. It also helps to think about how to reduce a standard down to its smallest parts in order to scaffold for those students that are starting at the Emerging Level.

After a short break we are smacked back awake. We are struggling through a Mobile Puzzle, or Logical-mathematical puzzle.

To me this is a Distinguished Level Task. To give this to a student who is working off of an Emerging Level, like me, they would check out pretty quickly after being easily frustrated. This task would require a lot of scaffolding for them to see the rules and patterns of how these numbers balance and relate to each other.

We broke for the day. Whew! Summer Brain is already setting in.

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