Monday, July 21, 2014

Proportional Thinking: Prepping for the Math Year

Thanks to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, I am taking a math course focused on proportional thinking. Each summer the state offers a number of courses to educators, and if you take part in about one per summer, you'll fulfill your recertification requirements and prep for the school year at no extra cost. The DESE STEM page also offers a number of helpful resources for the math year ahead.

Activity Link
Similar to the RETELL course I took this spring, this course is a well designed blended learning opportunity with online and offline elements. The course not only shares valuable information, but the way it is presented models terrific teaching strategies as well--strategies I can take back to the classroom in the fall.

As I learned today, I thought a lot about how I would begin the math year. There's many ways to begin a year of math teaching, and the most important factor related to starting the math year is engagement.

I like to start with a concept that's relatively new to everyone, and I like to review old concepts and skills through the new concept.

With that in mind, I'll start the year by teaching students coordinate grids using number fact information to start with. Students will fill in tables and plot multiples up to 45 on these activity sheets. We'll talk about the way that multiples of 1, 2, and 3 look very different than the multiples of 5, 6, and 7. Later students will practice plotting numbers with picture practice sheets and Khan Math's 5th grade standards-based coordinate grids algebra activity.

After that, students will create a 1-100 board with number cards that review the multiple/fact focused numeracy skills they learned in fourth grade. Meanwhile for homework students will start practice facts using activities from a Khan Academy, That Quiz, Xtra Math, and other sites menu.

We'll round out the first week's activities with review of all the problem solving strategies using algebraic expressions and multiple models as we systematically work together to solve the problems, argue process, and share solutions. We'll also practice all large number computation skills.

By the end of the first month, all students should be past or well on their way to solidifying math facts, establishing a math menu practice routine, adept at plotting coordinate grids, familiar with the most popular problem solving strategies, and re-familiarized with 4th grade fact-based numeracy standards.

I like to start the year with lots of dynamic, vigorous learning. At no other time of the year are students more eager and energetic so it's a good time to take advantage of their zest and teach well.