This week we accomplished a lot in our math class. I mean, not much of it had to do with curriculum and I am sure none of it will end up on progress reports (I’ve received two reminders that those aren’t going away!) but it was a great week anyway.
The highlight of my week came on Monday. I have three students who were with me last year has grade 2s and they are repeating with me again this year as grade 3s. On Monday I had occasion to describe a picture as “one one-fourth” of something. One of them said, “Hey. Wait.” then he muttered “one one-fourth” a few times and said, “I had no idea that’s what one-fourth means. It means one out of four of something. One-fourth…get it? One out of four. I never knew that before.” I taught a lot of fractions last year. I thought I did a pretty good job. But for some reason this understanding clicked for him in that moment. I was immediately reminded of something Christine Tondevold says: Number sense can’t be taught, it’s caught! In other words, as she explains in this blog post, kids need experiences with numbers in order to understand them. I know that this “discovery” comes after a lot of teaching, but he didn’t really get it until that exact experience.
The other thing I am feeling good about is the formative assessment I accomplished. I don’t think I wrote a single thing down, but I know a lot about my mathematicians already. I had everyone working in their math notebook and noticed how they print numbers and organize their thinking. I had everyone counting objects – some they could touch while counting and some that were on the board so they were encouraged to use other strategies. We did a three-act math task every day I was able to start to establish our routine for Number Talks. Finally, we spent three days working on a math card game (a game like memory, but a match is two numbers that add up to 10.)
This is what I know we need to work on:
*Grouping objects to count them (sort of a surprise)
*Mathematical thinking (not a surprise)
*Organizing and communicating our math thinking (not a surprise)
That last one is going to be my biggest challenge. For a few years in a row, I have had a lot of kids in one grade and only a few in the other. This year I have nearly equal amounts. It’s a lot easier to have four kids working on an independent math task while I teach the other grade than it is asking 10 kids to be independent while I work with the other 10. I am determined not to make worksheets the independent activity every day, but I know that I will need to do that now and then. I do have 6 iPads and 2 laptops I can make into a workstation. It’s starting to sound like I am going to be doing Guided Math! I suppose that was bound to happen eventually.
On the agenda for this week:
*Learn another card game that can be used as an independent activity
*Start some math work disguised as science work (measuring puddles as they evaporate throughout the day)
*Strengthen our Number Talk routines
*Photocopy math interviews so I can start them the week after