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Monday, November 16, 2015

Systems Thinking and Teaching Math at Fifth Grade

Today we started math class with the big question, "What is a system?"

We arrived at the conclusion that "A system has parts that work together to create a result."

Then I asked students what they thought the big questions were when it comes to studying a system. We arrived at the following questions:
  1. What is the system and what are its parts?
  2. How does the system work? (process)
  3. What is the result(s) of the system's work? (product)
  4. Why does the system exist? (purpose)
Then I asked what is the big question that separates learning from leading when it comes to systems, and we discussed the question, "How can we make systems better or create new systems for better results?"

After that we talked about the Real Number System and looked at the role of zero in this system. Next we talked about a "system within a system" with a focus on the Base Ten Place Value System. With regard to the base ten system, we discussed the following points:
  • The role of the decimal point.
  • Whole numbers and their parts.
  • The value of each place.
  • How the system works or "behaves" with regard to value and moving from one place to another. 
Then we applied the learning to a number of problems.

Returning to early concepts of numbers and the number line, and then moving outward to place value and later fractions will help us to continue to develop students' knowledge, skill, and concept with regard to the real number system.

As I think more about this, what other questions and main points should I include? Do you agree that teaching math with systems think provides a comprehensive, connected way to teach and learn the subject? Also, how can we apply this powerful concept of systems to all of our teaching and learning this year? What other overarching concepts are integral in this regard?

I look forward to your ideas with related to this topic. Thanks!