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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Teaching the Math Unit: Developing a Pattern

The standards are broken into units of study. I like these content, skill, knowledge chunks with regard to teaching math well. As I think of this unit study, however, I would like to grow it to be a more regular pattern--one that mirrors good learning for any question, content area, or exploration. Therefore, I imagine a unit roll-out below.

Topic Title: Essential Questions
First, I want to start the unit with the topic title and essential questions. For example, I want to begin next year's math study with algebraic thinking. As part of that, I want to students to engage in a deep review of multiples and factors, order of operations, expressions and equations, variables, and coordinate grids. I'll think about the essential questions, but can imagine one to be "How do factors and multiples relate to a whole number?" I'm sure I can express that better with more thought and will do a bit of research on the matter.

What You Know?
Good learning demands that we bring to mind what we already know. That would be the next step. I can imagine that I will have students bring this to mind with a host or pictures, numbers, words, explanations and questions both on their own and with others.

Essential Concept, Skill, and Knowledge
Next through a series of blended explorations I will guide students to learn the essential concepts, skill, and knowledge of the unit.

Vocabulary
We will do some explicit words study.

Practice 
With both online and offline tools, students will have opportunity to practice what they know.

Projects: Puzzles, Problems, Writing, and Presentation
Projects, puzzles, problems, and writing will give students the opportunity to apply the learning in an investigation, writing, and presentation. This will also give students the chance to embed previously learned concepts, knowledge, and skill.

Home Study
Home study will include a menu of scaffolded practice and project work that students will be asked to complete throughout the unit. There will be regular check-ins for this work.

Assessment
The final unit assessment will include a traditional systemwide test and results from their practice and project work.

I'm looking forward to building in this explicit study schedule in the year to come. In order to do this, I will need to do the following:

  • Create vocabulary lists and activities (such as crossword puzzles, games. . .) for each unit.
  • Find a good project that matches each unit. Use Boaler's YouCubed site, Khan Academy Puzzles, and other research to support this.
  • Determine discrete practice "pages" online and off that match the unit topic.
  • Look at the order of units and determine what order will best support overall student learning.
  • Give parents and students opportunity for summer study with regard to some math essentials such as facts, large number addition and subtraction, and review.