Thursday, May 29, 2014

Guided Math Book Study

Time is not something that I have a lot of.  After chasing after my two little boys all day I finally had a chance to sit down and read chapter one of our book. I was a little worried that when I read it I would feel completely inadequate in my own strategies of teaching math.  However, after the reading I was pleasantly surprised. I am not saying that I have everything related to teaching math figured out, but I do feel like I am on the right path....So far! So let's take a closer look at what is good and not so good in my own ways of teaching.  
So far in my teaching I like the overall way that I have my math block set up.  In my 4th grade classroom I only have 1 hour so it is important to me that I have everything planned to a "T".  However, it is also challenging because in the world of teaching, things do not always go as planned.  Having said that, my overall set up remains the same for most days.  I was glad to read that some of the ideas of this book's framework already shows up in my classroom.  For example, I usually start out with a whole group lesson.  Whether it used to introduce the topic or to review.  I then typically do an informal assessment of the students progress after many opportunities to practice.  After the quick assessment I then will break students into two groups, three depending on the adults in the classroom.   The students who understand the skill being taught will be in one group to work on the skill with an activity that I have planned in advance. These students will be in either a small group or work individually  to work at their own pace and to take more control of their own learning.  The students who need a little extra support will stay with me to get more one on one/ small group instruction.  As the students who are working with me show concrete understanding of the skill, I will move them out of my group and into the other group so that they can continue working on the skill and I can keep working with students who still need support.

I know there are many aspects of my teaching that needs improvement. A few things in math that stand out to me in particular are problem solving and students reaching an understanding of "why" and not just "how".  For example, like most other teachers, I feel like I have so much to teach in a very small amount of time.  I have specific skills to cover and then I have to quickly move on to the next.  Due to this I have a hard time fitting in more problem solving skills and word problems in the short amount of time I have to teach the skills. Secondly, I would like to be able to focus more on my students understanding why we solve problems a certain way in math and not just knowing how the process works.  I want them to get a deeper understanding of how ideas and concepts work and solve the problems from that angle instead of solving problems from the "do it this way because that's that way it's done" approach.  I haven't figured out how to do these things yet, but that's what is nice about teaching, I can always improve and change the way I do things.  

Stay tuned for next week's post for Chapter 2!

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