Sunday, April 14, 2013

Trying New Things

I had the opportunity to observe and chat with some awesome teachers recently, which set the wheels in my brain spinning. It inspired me to make some changes to the way I teach math. It may be April, but hey--no time like the present, right? I wanted to move toward a more constructivist math class, so I tried it out this week. I'm really excited about the results, so I wanted to share!

First, I dug into this great book:


Then I decided to try something they suggest, which is teaching the majority of concepts through story problems. The cool thing about doing that is that you are teaching multiple things at a time: reading comprehension, how to show your thinking, writing in complete sentences, using composite strategies, explaining your strategies, and self-evaluation all at one time.

I wanted my kids to work on their doubles facts and use known facts to solve story problems, so here's how we did it. First, we used this poster to learn how to talk (and listen!!) to each other. 

In the far right corner, that's supposed to be a question mark--it got cut off. Sorry!

Then we read this book together:

(My sight-translation skills are getting better...)

 and we learned the definition of the word duplicar, which we reviewed daily. We solved lots of 2- and 3- addend story problems with doubles in them. Then I gave them some number strings with doubles in them. Every day we spent time talking with each other in partners, small groups, and large group about our strategies.

As we worked together, four amazing things happened:
1. One of my shyest, most struggling children stood up in front of the class and bravely explained how she solved a problem.
2. Another student who is similarly shy and has trouble with math jumped from counting by ones to independent composite thinking, just by talking with a friend.
3. My kids have these intense debates with each other about what they think and why--the moment I'm done writing the problem on the board.
4. My students went from doing this:

to  this:

to this:

In. One. Week.

Teaching rocks. 'Nuff said.

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