Sunday, August 24, 2014

90 Minutes of Math

Recently I've received several requests to share the schedule I plan to use in my math block.  I must first say that the schedule I am about to share has not yet been put to the test and I will likely tweak it throughout the year.  Also, keep in mind that I have a straight 90 minute block with no interruptions.  I know many don't have that luxury, so as you read this, you can think of it in parts, that could be scattered throughout your day.  Here's what I'm thinking:

15 minutes - Number Talks

A Number Talk is a short, daily routine that provides students with meaningful ongoing mental math practice.  During Number Talks students are expected to use number relationships and the properties of operations to add, subtract, multiply and divide.  Often a number talk is comprised of a string of related expressions that are intended to elicit a specific strategy or operational property.  For instance, in my classroom this past week one of my number talks featured the following string: 

100 - 89
100 - 49
250 - 24

This string was intended to elicit the "add-on" strategy and while a few of my students counted back by tens and then ones, I did have many that added up, and we were able to discuss those strategies and make comparisons between the two.  

It is important to keep Number Talks short, as they are not intended to replace current curriculum or take up the majority of your math time.  Number Talks are most effective when they are kept short and done every day.

5 minutes - Brain Break 

Because my math block begins at 8:00, the kiddos have already been trying to focus for 45 minutes to an hour at this point in the morning and I've found that they need a brain break early.  Depending on when you get started with math, you may choose to move or eliminate this break.  As I mentioned in my last post, I'm using GoNoodle, and so far the kids love it!

20 minutes - Discussion of Previous Day's Problem or Task

In the Purposeful Pedagogy and Discourse Instructional Model (PPD Model) a huge part of the students learning and growth happens during the discussion of student strategies that emerged while working the task or problem chosen by the teacher.  When I first saw this model in action, the teacher posed a problem and then walked around the room watching the students work, making mental notes of which student strategies she wanted to share during the whole group discussion.  As I watched the discussion that took place after problem solving I remember thinking, "Wow she's good to facilitate a discussion like that on the fly... she couldn't possibly have known what the kids were going to do with that problem."  I found out later, of course, that she had planned that discussion based on the strategies she had anticipated her students would produce.  At that point I thought, "Wow, she's good, she must have lots of experience in order to be able to anticipate what her students will do with every problem." 

What I'm trying to say is, facilitating a discussion on the fly takes practice.  Even if you plan in advance, you have to have a really good idea of the students will likely do, and that takes experience and deep understanding of student thinking.  So, in the meanwhile, until I get good at that, I plan to have my discussions the following day.  This will allow me time to look at my student work, sort it, think about it, and plan a discussion based on what they actually did, not what I think they'll do.  Look for more details and examples of this process in future posts.  

20 minutes - Introduce Today's Problem/Task & Work Independently

I'm not going to lie, choosing the just right problem or task is not easy.  Sometimes I might choose a problem from my CGI or ECM book or sometimes I might choose a problem or task from our district resource Stepping Stones, by Origo Education.  At other times I may use Contexts for Learning or I might even write my own. No matter where it comes from, I try to choose something that has the potential to produce the discussion I need, in order to push at the learning goal I have chosen for my students.   

This past week I was focused on these two common core standards as my learning goal:

3.NBT.2 - Fluently add and subtract within 1000 using strategies and algorithms based on place value, properties of operations, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction.

3.OA.9 - Identify arithmetic patterns (including patterns in the addition table or multiplication table), and explain them using properties of operations.
Posted with permission: Origo Education
I chose the task you see here from Thinking Caps (an add-on to our district provided resource Stepping Stones).  I posed this task to students without a mini-lesson, and without providing them an example.  The strategies that students came up with to write multiple subtraction sentences with a difference of 115, generated a fabulous discussion of patterns along with the relationship between addition and subtraction.  It was really quite exciting. 

5 minutes - Brain Break

Have I mentioned

25 minutes - Number Sense Routines and Fact Fluency

I don't have this time completely worked out in my head yet.  This past week I used this amazing number board which is again found in our district provided resource Stepping Stones.  We did some count around the circle and identifying patterns/missing numbers on the hundreds board during this time.  Then I used a problem solving activity from Stepping Stones that had students using what they knew about patterns on the hundreds chart to identify missing numbers on a given piece of the hundreds chart. 

In the future I intend to use this time to focus on fact fluency strategies at least a few days a week.  The first few minutes will be used to introduce/elicit strategies.  After that I will use the rest of the time to reinforce strategies and allow students to practice basic facts.  This time will likely be partner work and purposeful game play.  I can't wait to get started!

So there you have it.  My 90 minute math block.  As it stands right now at least.  I can promise you this will not be the last you hear about my schedule.  I'm already considering employing some sort of workshop model a couple of days a week.  I'm not sure how that will work yet, but I know I need to figure out how to get in some small group time with my kiddos.  So I'll be playing around more with that idea soon.  I'm so excited!

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