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Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Math Year: The First Twelve Lessons

As I think about the math year ahead for 2017-2018, I want to have the year's first lessons ready. Note that we have a system plan that I have to follow, and within that plan I have the ability to teach in ways that I have found to be successful.

The core program will begin with the lessons below, and the Response-to-Intervention (RTI) periods and math technology will serve to build on and enrich these lessons/goals.

Day One: 
  • What is Math? 
  • Why do we learn math in school? 
  • What are the best way to learn math? 
I'll begin by reviewing student names and supplies. 

Then I'll have students open up their Chromebooks and go to a Google classroom page that lists the questions above. I'll tell them to take a few minutes to add answers to the doc with their initials. The answers will stream in on the big screen as they write. 

After a few moments, we'll talk about each answer. For the question, What is Math?, I'll note that the definition of math is not a simple (as illustrated in this blog post and web page), however I like Keith Devlin's description that math is the science of patterns

Next we'll discuss the many reasons that we learn math and I'll emphasize that we learn math to become good thinkers and problem solvers--math provides us with many systematic ways to understand, talk about and create. 

Then as I listen to children to tell me about the best ways to learn math, I'll note that we all learn a bit differently from one another, and it's my job to understand how each student learns best so I can help them learn math successfully. Further it's important for every child to understand how they learn best to help themselves learn math and other subjects well. After all the student is his/her first and most important teacher. 

For homework, I'll ask students to write me a letter telling me how to teach them math--I'll ask them to be as specific as possible and tell them that their letters can be handwritten or typed and that they can put it in traditional letter form or make a mini poster, diagram, list or other format that will help me to understand what they want me to know. 

Finally if we have time, we'll watch a couple of introductory films about learning math, and then discuss how we might change or add to the list they've created. 

Note that the next five lessons will be interchangeable since they rely on the supports of the technology and math department so they may not be taught exactly in this order. 

Day Two: Intelligent Assistants for Math Teaching/Learning
I'll tell students that I read a great book about the future this summer and that the book was named, Thank You for Being Late by Thomas L. Friedman. Then I'll tell them that Friedman notes that we will all continue to use lots of "intelligent assistants" in our lives to learn. I'll ask them what they think that means. Then I'll introduce them to one intelligent assistant we'll use which is Symphony Math, a math online learning program that helps students to learn math through good interactive use of language, numbers and models. Since many students have experience with this, we'll talk about successful ways to learn with Symphony Math and make a list of those strategies for the classroom. Then students will sign in and get started. I'll do a lot of assessment with regard to how students sign on, access the technology, focus and more .

For home study I'll have students complete a short math facts assignment to warm them up for the next days work. 

Day Three: Assessment Helps Us Learn and Teach
On day three, I'll talk to students about assessment. First, I'll ask them what it is and what their experience with assessment has been like. We'll talk about what it means to assess our own work, and how we can use assessment to develop our performance and learning in any subject. Then I'll introduce the That Quiz facts assessment. I use That Quiz as a tool for lots of simple assessments and practice throughout the year. I'll show students how the assessments are accessed and displayed on the class learning menu, and then I'll have students get started with the assessments. When done, they'll work on their Symphony Math. 

For homework I'll assign a number of short That Quiz assignments which will be listed on the learning menu for students to use for practice and enrichment. 

Day Four: Using Assessments to Drive/Inform Your Learning
On day four, I'll have students analyze their That Quiz results with regard to the assessment. Then, I'll have a host of learning options available to help them reach for the next steps with regard to math fact accuracy and fluency. This will give them a chance to see how they can lead their own learning.

For homework students will be asked to access the same learning choices available in class and practice and develop their fact knowledge more. 

Day Five and Six: What's Your Number?
To build community and help students to get to know one another as well as review math vocabulary, we'll complete the "What's Your Number" activity

For homework students will begin working on a number fact array packet that focuses on specific facts and landmark numbers. 

Day Eight, Nine, Ten
Additional systemwide assessments and completion of activities listed above. 

Day Eleven: Math Has a History
I will tell students that math is manmade--it's not natural though a purpose of math is to understand and describe the natural world. I will ask them what they know about math's history and then we'll watch a number of short videos that describe the history of numbers. 

For homework: students will continue their array packet.

Day Twelve: What is a System? What is the Place Value System?
We'll begin by talking about what is a system and what makes up a system. We'll talk about the many systems they belong to and learn about. Then we'll specifically discuss the place value system, a system that we learned is a human-made system. We'll begin to create a big model of the place value system.

Following Days:
Then we'll begin to study the place value system with depth to master the following standards:
This unit roll-out will include the following lessons and activities:
  • Formal/informal pre-assessments to see what students already know
  • Explicit introductions to standards/learning goals
  • Floor-to-ceiling exploration related to the standards
  • Practice
  • Problem solving
  • Writing
  • Math talk, debate and presentation
  • Assessment, reflection
Note that I will assess the unit roll-out plan to make sure that I'm teaching w/future-readiness skills as noted in the mini posters at the bottom of the page. 
After that we'll continue unit-by-unit with the systemwide roll-out using similar elements to teach and enrich all standards.

Also, as I plan and lead the unit roll-out, I want to be mindful of future-ready teaching/learning that I culled from recent reading and noted in the posters linked on this post.