Thursday, June 5, 2014

Guided Math Book Study- Chapter 2

Reading chapter two has made me look at teaching math from the point of view of a student.  Although I know that I am teaching math to kids, looking at it from a teacher’s point of view is different than that of a student’s.  Being an adult, math is a part of everything I do on a daily basis. It could be helping my 3 year old count out how many grapes he gets for a snack, estimating how many days I can stretch out the amount of diapers I have left for my 18 month old before buying more, doing everyday “mom” activities, or even “helping” my husband keep track of our finances.  I use the term "helping" very loosely because he is an accountant so basically my “helping” consists of spending the money.... Hey, someone has to keep his accounting skills fresh! After reading Chapter 2, I must say I am very motivated in creating a classroom that is more mathematically enriched along with my already reading/writing enriched environment.  

I believe that all seven of The Foundational Principles of Guided Math are extremely important and would be hard to have one without the others. Having said that, I found two of them stuck out to me the most.

#1- A numeracy-rich environment promotes mathematical learning by students.

When I first read this I thought “well duh!” But, as I looked closer at my own teaching the “well duh” response came from assuming what students already know and not what they actually know.  As all of us do this at some point or another.  We assume some of the things/ ideas that we are familiar with may see like common sense and something that “everyone knows.” However, I realized that although something could be considered common sense, we still had to learn that bit of information somewhere.  I learned that I take many everyday math concepts for granted.  I do it in the classroom and at home. Chapter 2 has taught me that just because I think a student should know something doesn't mean that they do.  It is important to help them discover these ideas and concepts by provided plenty of opportunities for students to discover all different forms of math and how it relates to THEIR everyday life. These opportunities can come in the form of me teaching a lesson, posters around the room, science experiments or even encountering different conversations with classmates.  It is important for me to be the facilitator to make the learning connections occur.

#2- Ultimately students are responsible for their learning.

100% AGREE!!  Now is this to say that the pressure and expectations are no longer on me as the teacher? Absolutely not. If anything, it adds to the expectations.  If students are responsible for their own learning then someone has to be there to make it possible for them to have access to materials in order for learning to take place as well as make it interesting enough for the students to want to learn.  Not only is it crucial for the teacher to make learning happen but it is even more crucial for the teacher to create an optimal learning environment and ask the right questions for the students to become interested. Only once the students are interested and engaged in the happenings of the world around them will they take on the responsibility of their own learning. 

Not yet.  At least not in the sense that I would like it to be.  Do my students have the ability to learn in an open environment and feel comfortable to ask questions? Of course they do.  However, as the book describes a mathematical learning environment, my classroom is lacking. So how can I change this?? First of all, I want to make sure I establish “ground rules” from the get go specifically towards math.  I would also like to create a math center in my room as well.  I have a reading center so why not a math center? I am always looking for ways to incorporate more real life problem solving in my teaching so I think I would like to try it in a center.  It is still an evolving process in my head but I can’t wait to see it come to life. I love the idea of having math conversations throughout the day, and not just during math block. It seems so obvious that math is in everything that we do every day, so why shouldn't it be in every part of the school day? 

Chapter 2 has really brought teaching math in every part of the day a reality.  I know that I will not be able to do it perfectly, but I look forward to trying to incorporate more real life math throughout they school day! 

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Stay tuned next week for Chapter 3.

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