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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Room Re-Set: Teaching Math Well

Yes, it's time for another room re-set this week.

School house changes have influenced change in the classroom--it's mostly a back-to-basics math teaching approach for my classroom until the big tests in May. Then we'll have time to resume our STEAM efforts and naturalist teaching.

So what does that mean for the room design.

First, I'll collect all the math tools and materials that are strewn throughout the classroom and make spaces for them. We have a large array of math teaching/learning materials including white boards, expo pens, computers, dice, cards, pattern blocks, tiles, Legos, and more to use when teaching math.

Also, I'll relegate one of my plastic draw containers for math handouts since each day I have about 100 handouts that I use to forward the mostly paper/pencil curriculum expectations to my three wonderful math classes.

I'll rearrange the whiteboard area so that I have all the materials I need to lead lessons.

Students are making good progress with the standards. While it's mostly paper/pencil given the time available and the steep expectations for mastery and coverage of many standards, we still find the time to marvel, share, and learn a lot. I continue to find joy in teaching each and every math concept. In a sense each math standard is like one more clue to unlocking the secret of life--a secret discussed in this TedTalk.

I do believe that the standards, while good, have to be re-looked at in terms of their progression. There needs to be more room for a blended, constructivist curriculum as well as the old time paper/pencil practice. Research forwarded by Jo Boaler should be embedded into our math teaching/learning environments, and this should be a point of discussion in schools everywhere. The states have to embrace this too since it will mean changing grade-level expectations to more of a progression of expectations, a progression that leads to mastery of essential foundation skills, concept, and knowledge in meaningful, empowering, and engaging ways. In light of this, Khan's Ted Talk is important to consider too.