math, Number Talks, Patterning & Algebra, Spatial Sense

Math on the Move

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.

math

OAME (part 2)

I’ve been interested lately in the whole idea of spiralling curriculum.  I attended the first of two workshops about this today and it was great!

Spiralling in elementary, I think, will look quite different to secondary.  I feel like I have naturally been looping back to topics we’ve covered.  I will say I’ve been pretty haphazard about it, and that is one of the things that I recognize as a problem that I want to solve.

In the workshop the presenter (Jennifer Thiessen) showed us how she had cut apart all the math expectations and then sorted them herself into common themes.  This was how she created her units so she was integrating strands.  I am going to do this!  She found Rich Math Tasks from a variety of sources, then used a matrix to plot which areas of the entire math curriculum were covered with the task. She found those that could be taught during other parts of the day and moved them there so she could spend more time on Number Sense.  For example, I don’t teach my class about temperature during math.  Instead, all winter long, we check the Weather Channel website to see if we are going to be able to go outside or not and that short (mostly daily) conversation covers all the expectations in the document. But again, I have been more “Oh look!  A connection!” about the whole thing and I want to have it more planned.

She also showed us how she went through with different colour highlighters and picked out expectations that were brand new material and would require a fair bit of teaching time and those that were building on knowledge that kid already had and could maybe be taught in a Number Routine or Number Talk setting. For example I don’t need to do lesson in grade 2 about counting, but we had to practice counting a lot – especially skip counting – so I can practice that 150 different ways during 4-5 minute counting routines at the end of a lesson. But I will have to spend a fair bit of time doing actual lessons about adding double-digit numbers because that is going to be challenging new learning for most of the class.

I’m really excited about this, which I know is a bit weird, but I’m looking forward to spending some time analyzing the curriculum and sorting through tasks.

math

OAME 2019 (part 1)

I am attending my first ever Ontario Association of Math Educators conference.  Yesterday was the first day.  I told my children I was going to school to be a student and learn more about teaching math, and that is exactly what happened.  I signed up for a variety of workshops, and have not been disappointed in any.

The very first session I attended was called “Where Fractions, Area and Volume Come to Play” and was presented by Kawartha Pine Ridge DSB teachers Brandi Hollinger and Laurie Moher. It was great!  They shared an action research project teachers in their board had been involved with.  They studied and learned how to support students with learning difficulties in the math classroom.  They shared a really great document, available on Edugains called “Supporting Students with Learning Disabilities in Math“.  I already spent some time with this document last night, but will need to really digest it when I don’t have a brain that already feels stuffed (with more to come today!) I was so excited about it I put it out on Twitter, and someone else recommended that I take a look at “The Waterfall” document produced by York.  HOLY COW!  It’s a document full of information that is specific to math and learning disabilities and I feel like I am going to use to be a GENIUS IEP writer/implementor.

I also attended a workshop put on by the amazing Aviva Dunsiger. She teaches math all day long in her Early Learning Kindergarten classroom.  ALL. DAY.  And it’s integrated into the children’s play.  So what does this have to do with me, a not-kindergarten teacher? I’m thinking a lot about how I could be doing little bits of math throughout the day.  My friend, also at OAME with me, did a class with ideas for math DPA. So I’m thinking a lot about that, and how I could be doing math in little tiny snippets all day.

Day 2:
I am now in my 3rd workshop of the day and haven’t had time to even finish the first post.  This conference has cost me some money (though my board is supporting me with PD funds for most of it) and has cost me some time. But it is seriously so worth it.  I’m thinking about what I might teach next year. I’m thinking about what I am going to teach in June this year.  I’m thinking about improving assessment and note keeping (Oh the note keeping!!)