January is ALWAYS a good time to reflect on your practices in your classroom. Maybe it was my personal love of reading or the fact that I went back to school for my Masters in Reading, but I always found this area was easy to reflect upon. There are tons of great professional texts that are easy reading. Math, well not so much- at least for me! I hated math as a child and dreaded it in college.
Even though it was harder for me, I still did find joy in teaching math. I liked seeing the light bulb moments and it is easier to “see” student thinking.
So how can you reflect upon your math instruction and make it even better for 2016? Here are a few ideas to get you started!
Kids need to talk. Not just to get the wiggles out, but also to organize their thinking. It is as important in math as it is when discussing a story.
This research article is more about teaching an effective lesson. However, you can't ignore all the times class discussion is mentioned.
However, it is important to give students a frame work to help them realize what on task and relevant discussion looks like and sounds like.
Consider creating an anchor chart like this one with your students during a whole group lesson. Please note, NONE of these are my original anchor charts. Click on the pictures to see the original image and blog post (and author)!
You can practice these same ideas during guided math groups. This gives students scaffolding and support so it will be easier to transfer to independent work time.
One of my most FAVORITE ways to get kids talking is math games! This automatically gives them something relevant and engaging to talk about. I have written and shared several FREE ideas for math games. You can read about those here and here.
I love this article on WHY your should play math games.
"Games are an important tool for learning in elementary school mathematics classrooms:
• Playing games encourages strategic mathematical thinking as students find different strategies for solving problems and deepen their understanding of numbers.
• When played repeatedly, games support students’ development of computational fluency.
• Games present opportunities for practice, often without the need for teachers to provide the problems. Teachers can then observe or assess students and work with individuals or small groups of students.
• Games have the potential to allow students to develop familiarity with the number system and with “benchmark numbers” (such as 10s, 100s, and 1000s) and engage in computation practice, building a deeper understanding of operations.
• Games support a school-to-home connection. Parents can learn about their children’s mathematical thinking by playing games with them at home."
Kitty Rutherford, April 27, 2015
Looking for some new math games? I just started this Pinterest board! Most of them are FREE!
Before having your kids play math games, you may want to read this post. It has lots of tips to make game playing much smoother!
Real world application can be VERY hard in the classroom. But it is so important- isn't it the reason we need math anyway! To apply it in our lives!?!?
I think one of my most favorite lessons a friend of mine did MANY moons ago (love ya, Julie!). She told the students (4th grade) the gym floor was going to be refinished and we needed to find the area of the floor to figure out flooring. The gym was a separate building, so kids used yardsticks to measure the perimeter to find the area. SO MANY standards covered.
Marilyn Burns is a math guru. She has a blog and one of the post categories is real world math. You can see all these posts here.
Another great place to find ideas for Real World Problems is Miss Math Dork's blog series, Math IS Real Life. You can check it out here on her blog or see her Pinterest board here.
Problem solving is SO important. And it is SO hard. I remember when I was a child, I DREADED word problems. Nothing put me closer to tears in school. The reality is, that kids need to understand how word problems work. I guess you could say it is an abstract application of real world word problems, right?
In second grade students need to master problem solving situations. I found this graphic with the situations here.
It can be hard to find resources with all the problem solving situations. I wrote this resource to include all the situations as journal prompts. I also tried to differentiate them with to include problems with and without regrouping. I also included some activities for one and two step word problems.
Another way to take problem solving to the next level AND ensure students really "get it," is to have STUDENTS create the problem. This activity basically differentiates itself. Higher students can create multi-step problems and lower students can create simpler problems with one basic operation.
In these problems, the teacher provides the answer. STUDENTS create the problem and ensure that it equals the answer. LOTS of higher level thinking skills.
I wasn’t able to find many resources for this concept. Maybe I was searching under the wrong terms? I created this freebie. If it is something you like, I would be happy to create a longer product with several more examples and pages!
Another really hard skill for kids is error analysis. This is a fantastic way to see how kids attend to detail and understand the process of the problem.
I love this post by Teaching to Inspire with Jennifer Findley. It discusses more complex problem solving, since Jennifer teaches upper grades. However, conceptually it is the same.
In my January Math Centers, I created an two-digit error analysis center for subtraction. I differentiated it by difficulty of the problem. You can snag it as a FREEBIE below! Enjoy!
How do YOU supercharge your math instruction? Have any advice?
Click here for this great pack of FREE math centers, plus get tips and updates from me!
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