That's how I plan...

Jumping back into teaching after taking time off to be a stay-at-home mom was hard.  I'm glad I did it.  I always thought I was a pretty good teacher, and tried to be the best I could for the class I was dealing with at the moment.

I'm one of those teachers who never teaches the same thing the same way twice.  I change things up depending on the students in my class, the mood the day, the way my day is going and any other variable that could alter the effect of the lesson.  I have never been a text book teacher in any sense of the term.  When I taught K I never used my text book... shhhh!  Ok, I read the stories from the reading series,but that's about it.  Now in 1st I do use it more, but I've always said that a textbook is a tool, not a toolbox.  You can't find everything you need in the textbook.  Some of my best lessons have been planned on the spot.  I know shock and horror... you are supposed to carefully plan out every lesson and decide what questions to ask and how the students should answer them ahead of time.  That's not me... I'm not that teacher.

I love to let the children come up with the questions.  I love for them to interact with each other and for me to be there to guide them if needed.

For example, today I presented my class with the project of turning an animal into a super hero.  I introduced a template to assist them in writing a 5 paragraph essay.. yep you read that right.  Ok the paragraphs may have only had 3-5 sentences, but hey it's a process.  Each child had to draw a picture of thier hero.  In the template they told:  how it got it's powers, what the powers were, and how it helped the world.  The students then wrote the essay (ok these aren't done yet, but hey we are working on it).  They also used pattern blocks (we are learning about plane shapes in math right now) to create their hero and then graphed the number of shapes they used.  I took a picture of their hero and will print them out.  I will then post their organizer, story, illustration, picture and graph in the hallway.  I gave them the suggestion, the tools to complete the assignment and then let them work.  And guess what... they had fun doing it.  They interacted with each other.  They challenged each other.  They asked for help only when needed.  They learned, and isn't that what my job is about?

When did I plan this?  Ummm yesterday when I was trying to think of a narrative writing assignment is when I came up with the idea of the super hero story.  Today while setting up for Wacky Wednesday I planned the rest.  Yep on the fly is how I play.


What is this math?

I was first exposed to "common core math" when Blake was in kindergarten.  At that time I was perplexed with the new math, but not upset.  When he was in first grade I was a bit more apprehensive of the "new way" of thinking.  But, we trudged along and I realized that for Blake the traditional way of math did not make the most sense to him.

Fast forward to this year.  Blake is in second grade and I'm teaching first grade.  I had a light bulb go off one day while teaching.... common core math is mental math on paper.  When we as adults do math in our heads we short cut it.  Well  we are teaching the kids these short cuts, they just do it on paper or with manipulatives instead of in their head.

For example, if I was to ask you to solve 37+53 in your head, would you say 7+3 is ten... carry the one 3+5+1 is 9.  ok then put the 9 here and put the zero here?  Probably not.  You might say 30+50 is 80. 7+3 is 10.  10+80 is 90.  Or you may start with the 7+3 is then and then say 30+50+10 is 90.  Remember this is all done in your head.  We don't always think about doing these steps.

When we make change you start with the smaller number and build up to the bigger one... even though making change is subtracting.

We as adults look for patterns in math... that is why we teach kids to make 10s, learn their double facts, how to see the addition fact in a subtraction problem, and find patterns on 100s boards.

I often hear people talking about not having 100s boards to carry around.  Well, you don't carry around base 10 blocks, a number line, cubes or any other strategy that we are teaching now or have taught for the last 20 years to early math learners.  These are just ways to see the process while learning.

I can tell you as a teacher I have very few kids who do not comfortably use 2 or more of the strategies we teach.  One of the first thing we also talk about is the need to learn the basic facts (addition and subtraction of numbers 0-20).  Again this helps with the mental math aspect.

I feel that if more people stop and look at what this math strategy is teaching and stop just saying it's not the way I learned... you may see that it is trying to help children not fear math.  There is more than one way to solve it.... what works best for you?  How did you solve it?  What will you try next time?