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Friday, January 04, 2019

Attention to Goals: Next Steps

 I find that one of the best ways to reach your goals is to create a detailed to-do list, a list of what has to happen to reach the goals you seek.

Goal: more engaging, deep, and memorable math education
Students explored two-dimensional and three-dimensional figures through drawing, building, and making this week. They were engaged. Was it the deep, memorable learning I seek in math? I think it was a good start since students were actively engaged and conversing continuously about the work at hand. To make this exploration even deeper requires really good project design that includes clear expression of the learning goals, best possible student-centered learning environment where materials are easily accessed, and time for reflection and assessment to determine what goals have been met and what further learning/exploration is required to master the skills, knowledge, and concepts.

Next week, students will master basic division computation skills. It will be a bit of drill since to learn to divide in traditional ways requires lots of repetition for most students. The week after that we'll go deeper with division and work on problem solving as well as personal paths to mastery-we'll have that mastery discussion, and students will use the materials available to master their knowledge of what it means to make equal groups in math--equal groups with metric measurement, equal groups with whole numbers, and equal groups with decimals.

For Valentine's Day we'll revisit volume with a mosaic activity that clearly expresses the difference between area and volume with right rectangular prisms and that special kind of right rectangular prisms, cubes. This will be a colorful math project that will bring learning to life.

Goal: regular engaging, memorable, standards-based, hands-on science study
A re-set of the room set-up prepares the stage for greater science learning. There will be two different explorations for two groups of science students today. One group will take a deep look at properties and then determine the unique set of properties including mass, length, color, texture, and more as they study a selection of common items. That group will also review what it means to be precise, open-minded, organized scientists who gather their materials with care, work collaboratively, record their data, ask questions, reflect, and put materials away with care.

The second group will revisit the containers of brine they made about a month ago. They'll measure the brine and see if any evaporation occurred. They'll also look at eggs they placed in vinegar a month ago and compare those eggs to fresh eggs--what's the same? what's different. We'll review chemical changes and physical changes, then discuss what kind of change happened to the brine and the eggs. I'll review our science steps with this group too as one way of strengthening our ability to explore multiple science activities as a whole class regularly.

Goal: Class Community
Our classroom is a warm, inviting place with tables, cozy chairs, and lots of great learning materials. It's generally an easy going place where children display lots of smiles and enthusiasm for learning. Of course, the primary reason why this group is so happy and delightful to teach is that each and every child has at least one loving adult in their life--that makes a huge difference when it comes to readiness for learning. Our school environment puts students first and that's another critical factor. Further our school is filled with many experienced and dedicated educators so students have a dynamic and diverse program of learning each week.

Today as I teach I'll be thinking about what I can do to deepen and enrich the goals set. Taking pictures of students while they are engaged in learning gives me a reflection point later on--I can look at the pictures and do some analysis of what is working and what could be better. They are good goals and I know that there's plenty of room to continue to develop this work. Onward.