Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Can't wait to start math instruction? Me too!

As a part of my job as elementary math specialist this year, I am teaching a demonstration classroom full of third graders.  I am so excited about what I am going to learn this year!  Yes, I that's right, I said it... I am teaching a demonstration classroom and I AM GOING TO LEARN!  I have spent 4 years studying theory and preaching to teachers about implementing Cognitively Guided Instruction, the Common Core State Standards for Mathematical Practice, and the Purposeful Pedagogy and Discourse Instructional Model.  Now it's time to practice what I'm preaching.  I plan to demonstrate how to make it all work in a school district that uses standards based reporting.  But first, I have to figure it out.

Today was the second day of school.  I have been granted a 90 minute block for math instruction.  Today my plan was to focus on procedures... How do we treat our manipulatives?  How do we use them as tools?  How can we organize them for easy use?  That was my plan.  What transpired, though, was a different story.  I did math... on the second day of school.  Am I crazy?

Here's how it started.  First, I posed a problem to the students: We need to figure out how to move our book boxes off our table and onto the shelves at the same time as taking our math toolkits off the shelves and putting them on our table.  We want to make sure and do this without putting anything on the floor and without having all 24 students up at once.  Innocent enough right? It was.  The kiddos came up with a few possible solutions right away, and we voted on which team's procedure would be the most efficient.  Done 25 minutes down. 

Now that we had the math tools on the tables, I told the kids a story.  "This morning I got here really early... at 6:45a.m.!  I worked and worked and worked to organize your math tools, but I ran out of time.  At 7:15, you all were here and ready to come into the classroom.  So I had to hurry to finish what I was doing."  At this point, I couldn't help it, I let the first math question sneak into our day, "How long did I work on the math tools before you got here?"  Really though, I was working on procedures, the students learned how to give a thumbs up when they had the answer instead of raising their hand.  :)  Carlton was the first to share his strategy, "6:45 is just a quarter from 7:00 and a quarter is 15 minutes.  Then from 7:00 to 7:15 is another 15 minutes, and 15 plus 15 is 30 minutes."  Now the kiddos got to learn the "me too" signal



So, you see, I really was focused on procedures.  :)  After we had our short elapsed time discussion, I explained to the students that because I had run out of time, I needed their help to open up our fraction squares and circles and remove the stickers so they could be used more easily. 
The kids enjoyed this activity and I did too. They got to "play" with the tools, and I got to facilitate a discussion about how we treat our tools.

After we finished breaking apart the fraction manipulatives, we had to squeeze in a brain break from www.gonoodle.com!  This was definitely a highlight of the day.  But even as I introduced brain breaks, we had to vote on our classroom champ, and I created a tally chart.  Which turned into a quick number talk.  How many more votes did Flappy Tuckler get than McPufferson? See I really just can't help myself. 

After a quick "Happy" dance and a calming stretch we moved on to the real problem of the day.  I had passed out place value blocks, but after I had counted out all the hundreds of unit cubes, I didn't have enough time or energy to count out the tens rods and make sure each team had the same amount so I just grabbed a pile and put some in each tray.  Now, in my classroom there are four table teams, and two math toolkits per table.  I could smell a number talk/collection counting activity coming and like a preditor hunting it's prey, I pounced on the opportunity to dig into some student thinking. 
The kids were in complete agreement that things must be fair, and therefore we must count the tens rods, and determine how many, if any, needed to be redistributed so that each table team would have the same amount.  So it began, they counted and I observed. They added and I listened.  Then we "fishbowled" and the class counted together as Marissa moved the rods on her desk.  Then again, the class counted as Henry moved the rods on his desk.  This is what I observed. 
Henry's blocks
Marissa's blocks

As the class counted, Marissa moved the blocks and grouped them into tens. Two groups of ten and 6 more. 

Henry, on the other hand, grouped off the first set of ten, and then grouped all the rest together. 

What does it mean?  I don't know.  Is it significant?  I think maybe.  Am I overanalyzing?  Likely.  

Oh well, moving on.  After counting the number of tens rods in each tray I recorded that information on the board, and what do do you think I did next? A number talk of course! 

A little bit of mental math, some strategy sharing, and some answer defending and in no time at all we had totals per team... 51, 50, 48 and 62 tens rods. 

I love strategy sharing.  I am always amazed at how they think about numbers.   

So that was it.  I ran out of time.  I wanted to keep going, but the kiddos were obviously over it.  It's the second day of school and I got in as much as I could without going overboard.  Crazy? Maybe.  But do you blame me?  I hope not.  

*Children's names have been changed.

1 comment:

  1. I like your posting. I have a PreK4 child and am curious about current teaching techniques. Your blog has helped me understand common core and that there really is some thought into this curriculum. Takes time and practice, as with all things, to understand. Thank you!