Teaching Practices

We are Community!

Why Should We Work So Hard to Build Community?

Class Math Agreements and Community and Mathodology

Building community beginning on the first days helps to create new relationships and strong bonds that will last throughout the year. Creating a shared vision of the expectations, developing a common understanding of classroom limits, and fostering a love of learning are only a few of the characteristics you might have in mind as desired outcomes. Ultimately, achieving mutual respect and a spirit of collaboration creates an ideal working environment for the classroom.

When community exists, each child feels valued. A sense of shared purpose unites the group and working together to accomplish goals becomes a priority. Our goals are BIG and require the effort of all of our members. The uniqueness that each student provides as a member of the community must be valued and each individual strength will make the community stronger and better. As children develop a sense of duty to the community, self-discipline is likely to emerge more naturally and from the child’s (intrinsic) motivation rather than from external or reward-based methods (extrinsic).

Early in the year, creating purpose in the child’s movement and activity is desired and we balance the freedoms offered within the environment, the needs of the young child to move, and the constraints of the environment. Providing structures and routines will help to create order as well as ensure a safe environment for your children. A strong sense of community is one of the most effective ways to teach how to use individual freedoms.

How do we build community?

We play games and have fun together. We share lunch and work with each other, mixing-up our groups with an emphasis on getting to know new friends. We interview and find out more about each other by sharing experiences, stories, traditions, and the accomplishments we are proud to have achieved. We make time to appreciate each other and learn how to recognize others, as well as ourselves. 

In our community, we learn to problem solve, developing the skills necessary to take care of ourselves and others. When solutions are found and conflicts resolved with little or no direction or intervention by an adult, students feel great pride! Creating a class agreed-upon list of rights and responsibilities with the students allows them to partner in holding others accountable and enforcing your shared vision of community.

Grace and courtesy work also play a role in learning how to act in a community. A firm handshake and smile in the morning set a respectful tone for the day. Allowing students to have the role of a “class greeter” is a great way to have students serve in a leadership role as they create personal and inviting welcomes to the community. Practicing how to greet visitors with a cup of tea and a special chair or preparing a class snack are other ways students can assume responsibility. Modeling ways to ask for help, challenge other student’s ideas and even how to say “no thank you” respectfully are tools your students will need to have in order to work effectively in their community.

A natural extension of building community within our classrooms is to reach outward. The work that starts within our classroom might find opportunities in other areas within the school. Participating in the work of the larger community helps the students feel proud and invested.  Students experience, on a small scale but in a real way, that they can create change. We can act individually or as a group – and we DO make a difference! 

Specific Ideas to try at the beginning of the year might include:

  • Toss a ball in a group to help learn names
  • Learn a favorite food of a new friend
  • Create a scavenger hunt in the room to learn a new environment
  • Share with a friend something you like about yourself
  • Work together to line up without talking
  • Offer lessons on classroom jobs
  • Provide lessons and model grace and courtesy
  • Make a list of “Classroom Rights and Responsibilities” WITH your students and have them initial or sign
  • Have a procedure or place in the classroom for resolving conflicts –create a “Peace Table” or “Peace Corner”

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Report Cards

In emphasizing the core competencies in mathematics, schools have added indicators in giving feedback to their parents.  Here are questions I typically receive.

We are trying to determine how to modify the indicators on our report card.  Have you seen any schools use the indicators/categories from the Singapore Core competencies?  Any insight?

Below is a sample of what one school developed.

 

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Is it possible?

Is it possible?

Participants were asked at the 2017 Fall Mathodology Institute if it was possible to use the digits 0-6 only once to make a true statement?

Is it possible?  Participants worked and worked and did not find a way to solve the problem with the given conditions.  The teacher allowed the task to move on without closure for a purpose.  When students work to become confident problem solvers we want them stating, “this is not possible, I have exhausted every situation.” Listen to their reasoning, and look for a systematic way to prove it is not possible. All too often we focus on finding the solution, and we can deepen the process and allow for practice when we alter the task.

Try giving a task where it is not possible and see how your students handle it.  Follow-up by asking, “if it is not possible, can we change one of the symbols to make it a true statement?”

When we do not provide immediate closure, we allow students to continue to explore.  Many participants emailed after the institute because they would not quit until they figured it out.  Below are a few of the pictures they sent.

Great perseverance by participants who refused to give up?

This is what we want from students…next question for Shelly…can I change any symbol to make it a true statement?  If so is there only one way?

 

Ok…..I’ve worked literally for hours and I’ve come to the conclusion that this problem is NOT possible. If the lesson was to teach us to let kids struggle so they work harder like a ???? I get it. I’ve done at least 100 fraction problems over the weekend. If you would’ve given us the answer I would’ve never thought about this problem again……but you’ve let us struggle and now it’s just painful. Please tell me it’s not possible ???? my sanity is at stake.
-Shelley

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Grade 1 Task

Grade 1 Task- Not enough information

At 2017 Mathodology Fall Institute participants worked on a task from think!Mathematics which required them to use the given shapes to make a composite figure. Figure C posed a problem for many.  Is it possible?  Participants worked and worked and did not find a way to solve the problem with the given shapes.  The teacher allowed the task to move on without closure for a purpose.  When students work to become confident problem solvers we want them stating, “Figure C is not possible with the given shapes.  I would need an additional… to complete this shape.”  We have built perseverance and another way to assess them.  Do they know what to ask?  “I need two more pieces of one shape.”

When we do not provide immediate closure, we allow students to continue to explore.  Many participants emailed after the institute because they would not quit until they figured it out.  Below are a few of the pictures they sent.

Try giving a task where there is not enough information and see how your students handle it.  Will they be confident to state this is not possible, and know what to ask?

Great perseverance by participants who refused to give up?

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CPA Number Bonds

CPA Progression

Can you see the CPA progression?  Modeling with actual items in making the lesson come to life first.  Then move to pictorial representation with pictures of the objects.  Last student model with cubes and record in a number bond.

Modeling with actual items in making the lesson come to life first.  Then move to pictorial representation with pictures of the objects.  Last student model with cubes and record in a number bond.

Then move to pictorial representation with pictures of the objects.  Last student model with cubes and record in a number bond.

Lastly, student model with cubes and record in a number bond.

 

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Sarah Schaefer

 Sarah Schaefer - Student Work

Correcting journals does not require lengthy comments or grades.  A simple stamp will do.
“Got It!”

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Sarah Schaefer

 Sarah Schaefer - Student Work

Correcting journals does not require lengthy comments or grades.  A simple stamp will do.
“Are you sure?”

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3 Part Lesson Structure

3 Part Lesson Structure

I have a question regarding the framework of lessons. At the conference I attended in Baltimore, I believe this was the way Ban Hear structured his lessons:

10 min. exploration -anchor task
10 min. structured discussion (of anchor task)
10 min. journaling
10 min. reading textbook (as if you were exploring some else’s journal) “I wonder if they used our methods…etc.
10 min. guided practice
10 min. independent practice
Is this correct (give or take on the times) and if so does the book pretty much follow this way as well?

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Sarah Schaefer

 Sarah Schaefer - Student Work

Great Day 1 journal prompt to set up structure of journaling.

What do you like about learning math?
Give 2 examples and an explanation.

Day 2:
What do you not like about learning math?
Give 2 examples and an explanation.

Great way to get to know your students. Share your results!

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Spiky

 Spiky - Student Work

Ready to work on journal writing together? Share prompts that could be used for a unit on counting, number, and place value.

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Article on woman and math

 

A good read by Jo Boaler on women and mathematics. Time to rethink the way we teach math. Share your thoughts!

http://motto.time.com/4717463/jo-boaler-women-stem-ivanka-trump-betsy-devos/

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