This was our math class this week:

Last Spring at the OAME conference, I bought a book called “Math on the Move” by Malke Rosenfeld. My friend, who was at the conference with me, attended a workshop about the book. We talked about it a few times. She tried it out with her grade 2 class last year, and I read it over the summer. Then in December we had a day when we could sit down and do some planning together.

The premise of the book is that there is a lot of math students can learn while moving around. This past week we learned about patterns in math while dancing. The squares on the floor, made with painter’s tape, give everyone a designated space to work in. They also give everyone signals for where the feet should be at a given time. I added the blue tape line because our previous work with directional words and spatial sense activities let me know that left and right are still tricky for quite a few of my people and I thought “blue side” would be less tricky. I still used the words left and right, and gradually stopped saying “blue line” over time. We worked with 4-count repetitive patterns all week. We got over some self-conscious feelings about dancing where others can see us. We resisted the urge to pick the painter’s tape off the floor even though it was getting pretty scuffed up by Friday. I like the way this activity integrates spatial sense, patterning, dancing, and self-regulation! It was super hard for some children to follow dance steps instead of dancing free-style. It was a lot of fun, and this can be quite dysregulating for some children. I had specifically planned to do this during the week we returned from Winter Break because I knew they would need to ease back into the routine of school. I think this helped many of them. I’m confident, based on the rest of our days, that sitting down and focusing on some table activities would have proven to be a challenge!

We have been using “Banana, Banana, Meatball” on Go Noodle for a few months during our DPA. I used this to launch us into a study of patterns and dance in music. The class, mostly, can do the moves. It’s just hard to keep to the right pace. However, everyone could follow the patterns, talk about the patterns, and create their own patterns. We also watched some other music videos and danced to the music. Turns out all dancers follow the same moves we were using. There are patterns everywhere!

We didn’t get as far as I wanted in one week. I had hoped to have everyone using some boxes to record their moves so others could follow the pictures (this is all explained in the book.) We will get there eventually, but it didn’t happen when I thought it would. I’m not in a rush though.

To support our pattern learning, we were also using some “Eyes on Math” images for Number Talks this week. Marian Small wrote this book several years ago. I use it every year and I love the way the images get students thinking about noticing the math in the world around them. This week we looked at a picture of a parking lot. Cars were leaving a person was counting how many cars were left. We had to figuring out how many cars were left as each left (shrinking pattern.) On another day we wondered how many eggs would be left if mom takes them away 2 at a time. We talked about several different ways to figure out how many bicycle wheels were in a picture (growing patterns.) We worked on a few money problems too!

While we were doing the Number Talks, we also talked about how to solve a problem. In other words, the problem is up there on the board, or on the paper, and you need to read it and figure out what to do in order to find a solution. How do you do that? This is one of the times when I did some direct, explicit instruction. I know how to solve a problem. I know how to break it down into steps. They don’t. I told them. I made a chart, we practiced, now some of them know what to do and more of them are going to know what to do after we do some explicit practice next week. When I start the next Context for Learning unit they should be better equipped to work independent of me.

Next week our math focus will turn to telling time. The turn of the year is a good time for that. But we will come back to our dancing a few times. We’ll talk about more Eyes on Math images and practice solving steps. And we are going to do an art project that uses patterns. I’m excited to see what happens when we get started on this.