Aug 20, 2010

Critical Conversations/Problem Solving

I've just finished a very intense week of learning in mathematics and teaching. I first attended a session called What's a Problem...That's the Problem. This was nothing new to me because I've taken a problem solving approach to teaching math for quite some time. My students are engaged and constantly expected to solve problems. I think it's important to remember, and it was expressed several times, that problem solving doesn't just have to mean students solve word problems. Sometimes, not having a pencil can become a huge problem in grade two. I would imagine in any grade. Here are some examples of very simple problems we worked on:

Problem #1. 
Tell me about 1. Students write what they know about 1. To create more of a problem ask them to build their representations using what ever they want and have others guess what they think their 1 represents.

Problem #2.
Find and write two numbers with a difference of two. Once students have selected their two numbers, have them say them to you and you write them on the board or have them. Once a list has been generated, get the students to sort or order the numbers and see what they come up with. Discussions around why and their reasoning behind their choices are amazing.

A problem must be obtainable for all to complete. If it's too difficult it can shut some students down but if it's too easy then it's not a problem. Finding the balance is the tricky part.

Critical Conversations were on Thursday and Friday. This is where the real learning took place. It was so refreshing to meet with like minded teachers who've been on the same journey, as myself,  with my mentor, Geri Lorway. She is an amazing woman who works tirelessly to improve teachers understanding of their craft, not just mathematics. Her specialty is math but she is really trying to get teachers to understand the curriculum and what it means to engage students and listen to them.

The conversations focused on the Alberta Math Curriculum but it was about so much more. We spoke about assessment at great length. The tasks or activities you create need to provoke curiosity in students. They need to allow students to take risks and persevere. They must also allow students to work together in a group and think.  When tasks or activities have all of these learning skills, then it's important to build rubrics with your students to assess them on these learning skills. These are the skills that we really value in students. We want them to be curious, to take risks and to work together. We say it all the time. Therefore, we should be helping students obtain such skills.  I'm sure there are more that could be added to the list but these 3 or 4 were what our grade two's focused on.

What I learned about math and assessments:

- it takes at least 6 tasks or activities before you can assess students on the learning skills of curiosity, risk-taking, thinking and group work.
- rubrics should be created with students - we all know that
- they should be short - students and teachers will not use them if they are too long
- rubric should help guide students in their learning journey, not hinder them
- they should contain no numbers but instead think about having an arrow at the top with a mark on the arrow. This allows students to move along the continium of the rubric at which ever place they feel their learning is.
- a rubric should only have three columns not the traditional four - what's the difference between mostly and somewhat?
- start by building a t-chart with students eg. not curious and curious - what do each of these look like, sound like, feel like
- middle column should be wider than the other two - that way the student and/or teacher can move the mark/line along the arrow, based on how they feel about their performance or a teachers observation
- we should not be ranking students, that's why we don't need the numbers on the rubrics

I found the discussions with like minded colleagues to be so reflective and refreshing. It was amazing to be in an environment with teachers who "got it" and who were "passionate" about  teaching kids. I look forward to keeping in touch with the other grade two teachers and see how developing rubrics with students that reflect learning skills of curiosity, risk-taking and group work have worked in their classrooms the first month of school.

Aug 5, 2010

Daily 5 Elluminate Session

Hello Everyone,

Wow!! What an amazing morning. It was so nice to connect with people through Elluminate this morning on our chat about Daily 5. Thank you all for coming. When Sarah (@soltauhller) and I sent out the link, we were not sure what we had done. There were 10 or so participants this morning from various parts of the world. Thanks Louise for sticking around. It was late in Australia for her and she needed to work the next day. I'm so impressed and hope it was helpful to you.

This was a new experience for me, to moderate a session. I've always been someone who attended and knew a bit about Elluminate. Moderating it is a little different. I realized I don't always multitask well. I missed most of what was happening in the chat. I can't wait to re-watch it again. You were all very good participants and patient as well.

Thank you for asking such great questions, posting links and giving people ideas on how to implement it in the classroom. Sarah created a new hashtag #Daily5 for us to use on Twitter.

I'm posting some links below for the archive as well as the website, beanie babies, chime and other sites for you to look at. If you have anymore please send them to me and I will post them. If any of the links don't work let me know.

We will do another Elluminate session closer to the beginning of school if everyone has the time. I know how busy you are. Look for it on Twitter and Facebook as well as on this site.

Links from Elluminate Session
Discussion & Question Elluminate - Aug 5/10
Discussion of Daily 5 - Sept. 6/10

The 2 Sisters Website

The Chime Website

PBWorks site I found - I'm hoping this link works if not it's called - The Daily 5 RH Wiki (you will have to ask to join)

Aviva's Beanie Baby Strategies & Tracking Sheet

Have a great day and I look forward to our next session. 


Aug 2, 2010

Thank You's

Here I go... This isn't my first blog but it is my first one that deals with education. I'm quite excited to start this journey. I've read several blogs from people I follow on Twitter such as: @Grade1, @gcouros, @flourishingkids, @mrdflemming, @lorilovesbooks, @joe_bower and several others, too many to mention all at one time.  All of you have been so inspirational with what you write, your encouragement and answering questions I might have. Thank you very much. I don't always respond to everything you post on your blogs, but I do read and reflect in my own way. I'll get better at responding I promise. When I read the latest post from @whatedsaid about 10 Ways to Grow as An Educator It really made me reflect and consider creating my own blog about my teaching and what others have to say on Twitter and their blogs. I've always kept a reflective journal when I started to change my math pedagogy but it had always been for my own eyes. 

Several of you recommend blogging so I'm going to give it a try. This is going to be my first post of many to come. I've got lots to talk about especially when it comes to teaching. Those of you who know me well, know that teaching is my passion. I consider myself to be a good teacher who is always wanting to improve upon my craft. So...I'm coming up to my 1000 tweet and I felt this would be a great way to remember it. In the future I hope you find this interesting, inspirational, and insightful.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to reading and responding to your comments.