Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Reflections on Virtual Math Teaching and Learning

One math group worked on the concept of equivalent fractions with the lesson above. Using Google tables has been helpful for these virtual lessons.
I am finding that teaching math online to be a positive intellectual challenge. To date, there has been some good movement ahead including the following:
  • Creating a number of small teaching/learning groups from our 69 fifth graders.
  • Offering each group two 45-minute virtual lessons a week.
  • Creating an online menu that students can use to guide their meeting preparation, attendance, and practice/project work.
  • Including special educators and teaching assistants in the meetings and working together to teach the lesson, monitor the chat, call on students, and respond to questions.
  • Having students work with paper and pencil at home as they engage in the lesson.
  • Focusing the lessons on making meaning with math talk, model making, and problem solving.
  • Inviting students to attend as many extra meetings as they would like to gain greater repetition with learning specific skills and concepts.
  • Utilizing the MA standards outlined as a framework for this teaching and learning.
  • Opening up each session with a positive greeting and time for questions and ending the meetings with similar time for questions.
  • Building each lesson on the learning that came beforehand.
There are still some challenges to meet including the following:
  • Finding ways to engage the very small percentage of students who are not regularly taking part in virtual school. I have to think about this more and try out some other ideas. I'll work with my colleagues to figure this out.
  • Creating more efficient patterns for monitoring students practice efforts. This week I started with a decision tree Google Form which, I believe, helped students to make good choices and be aware of what was expected. I may try that next week too. 
  • Looking for ways to build the virtual lessons so that students are inspired to keep those lessons going via drawing, building, making, or exploring the concepts in interesting ways.
The plus side of virtual teaching and learning is the ability to focus in on students' math talk, problem solving, and questions with greater attention than in the busy, active classroom. The downside is fewer lessons and less ability to respond to questions and learning needs throughout the day and the reality that some families are better positioned to provide learning support than others for a wide range of reasons.

I'll continue to make the exploration of deeper and more meaningful math instruction as one motivating factor to propel me forward for the next eight weeks of virtual school. This is one way to maximize a silver lining of this stay-at-home time virtual learning event. Onward.