Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Ch. 5 and 6 Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics

I am back! A little late with this post, but ready to discuss chapter 5 and 6 of our book study Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics. If you missed any of the past chapter discussions just click on the photo below to take you to previous posts!!

Chapter 5: Planning, Teaching, and Assessing Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Children

I am going to have to be completely honest with you on this chapter...I struggled. I started reading, stopped, put the book down, checked my social media, reread what I already read, and then finally just sucked it up and finished the chapter. I couldn't figure out why I was having such difficulty with this chapter because I have enjoyed the book so far. It really has made me rethink and want to begin to restructure some areas of my math program in my classroom. Then it hit me...I realized that my current classroom is not very diverse so I was struggling with my own personal connections. Maybe it was the diet Coke, the chips and guac, or the bite sized Twix bar (yes, not very healthy choices, but sometimes you just gotta go with the flow!) that snapped me out of it. The lightbulb finally went off...I still could use their suggestions in my own classroom with my own students.

The author shares from the NCTM Principles and Standards for School Mathematics,  "Excellence in mathematics education requires equity-high expectations and strong support for all students. Teaching for equity is much more than providing children with an equal opportunity to learn mathematics. Attention to language and culture, two interrelated and critical  considerations, is important in planning, teaching, and assessing children from diverse backgrounds. Children who are given instructional tasks that are well supported and thought provoking-rather than low-level tasks with short-term gains-can reach higher levels of mathematics proficiency".

I found this to be very powerful and something that I really want to incorporate as I plan for the upcoming year.

We all think mathematics is the universal language, however, the author gave examples of how this is not entirely true. Think of our basic 52-17 math problem. There are many ways this can be solved and explained.

I know I learned that I start in the one's place. I cannot take 7 away from 2 so I must go borrow a group of ten from the ten's place. Since I borrow a group of ten now I have 4 tens left and 12 ones. I then subtract 7 from 12 and get 5 ones. Now I move to the ten's place and subtract 1 from 4 to get 3 tens. My final answer is 35. The book gave some samples on how other countries solved this problem. Different and a bit odd to me, but still had the same answer I had. Who is right? Who is wrong? Does it really matter? NO. Since I have been teaching second grade I have learned that there are many other ways to solve this problem. Some are easier and others are more time consuming, but all bring me to the same answer... just in a different way. There were a few where I remember thinking..."Why didn't I ever learn it this way?" So you have to ask yourself...Are you willing to accept all the different ways it is solved or just the way you are comfortable with? Furthermore, will you ask children to elaborate on how they did it or have the children show other children their way of thinking?

The author also stresses the importance of vocabulary in this chapter as well. It is important to teach all children the key math vocabulary terms. Picture dictionaries, vocabulary games, and interactive word walls that include pictures and translations are some great ways to incorporate math vocabulary.     It is also important to remember when designing problems to use visuals, simplify sentences, and eliminate confusing vocabulary.

One last is important for all of our students to have a safe and positive learning environment where they can take risks, show their own thinking, and feel like their input is accepted and valued.

Chapter 6: Planning, Teaching, and Assessing Children with Exceptionalities

This chapter focused on dealing with Response to Intervention(RTI), students with learning disabilities, children with moderate or severe disabilities, and children who are mathematically gifted.

The author gave many examples of implementing interventions:

Explicit Strategy Instruction
Concrete, Semi-Conrete, Abstract (CSA)
Peer-Assisted Learning
Think Alouds

There were some great reminders to think about when dealing with the mathematically gifted.

DO'S (when appropriate):

Increase Sophistication
Use novelty

DON'TS (Try not to just...):

Assign more of the same work
Give free time to early finishers
Assign gifted learners to help struggling learners
Provide gifted pull-out programs
Offer independent enrichment on the computer

A lot to take in and think about. Remember to check out the other bloggers who are participating and here what they have to say! Have a great Wednesday!

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