Thursday, June 01, 2017

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

Teachers, congratulations if you got through yesterday's post. Summer Brain is a real thing, people. Once those school buses drive off the lot, it turns on. So kudos if you managed to get through Day One of Summer Math Institute with me!


Today the teachers arrived a half hour before the students in order to preview the day. The biggest thing our coordinator stressed was that we need to 'Step Back' and let the students take over. This session is not for teaching any new skills, it's strictly to observe how students approach and attack math problems. We want to witness their reasoning skills in action. As teachers we can notice concepts that we need to address during tomorrow's mini-lesson or bringing up in small groups as needed.


12 students came tumbling into our room and we got right to work asking them to pick out a Math Vocabulary Sticker to wear for the day. In their journals they have a spot for them to write out what they think their term means and illustrate it. We shared those out loud with the group. They were a bit shy and needed some coaxing, but this activity got them talking and thinking about math already.


We are focusing on strategies to bring NUMBER LINES into more math lessons this week. So we had some activating strategies to see what the group was already capable of doing. We handed out a plastic one that had a blank side and a ticked side. It was interesting to see how few of them actually understood how to use these as a tool.


Another issue I noticed to address with these students is as they approach math exemplars, or word problems, they seemed obsessed with taking whatever the first two numbers are in the problem and adding or multiplying them. To slow them down at the beginning of the year don't stress out on finding the answers but rather concentrating on deciphering the problem. What do you know? What do the numbers mean? What are they asking you to do?


Number Talks was a huge "Aha Moment" for me when I first saw this strategy at an earlier institute. Sherry Parrish (pdf - Number Talks video - Sherry Parrish ) is the Number Talks guru. It basically asks children to explain their thinking and use those strategies to teach the rest of the class additional ways of solving problems. It was interesting to listen to the students talk through their math. We had to cringe when students were off with their reasoning, but it helped us to see where holes were and how to address them in later math lessons.


The students were also asked to reflect on the class. They had a survey to complete sharing what they are already comfortable with in mathematics and then they wrote in their journals about Something I found challenging today… Tomorrow I am excited about…


Day One was a juggling act as we got used to the kids and they got used to us. Using the materials and showing their math thinking caused a lot of confusion. But by Day Three I think they will be experts.

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