When I was growing up, I always knew I’d be in the top of my class in math, and that gave me a lot of self-confidence. -Sergey Brin
Math confidence is something I did not have in school. While I am super proud of surviving doctoral stats, I feel the pain of my students when they struggle with math concepts.
This week we are working on 2 dimensional shapes. We have found them in our environment and discussed the sides and number of vertices. We have a couple of apps that have helped us as we work with shapes. We add our work to our math journals that were created in Book Creator app.
Using the Geoboard app, the kids made different shapes. Their first inclination is to use a different rubber band for each side. I challenged them to create the shape using just one rubber band. Then, they used the drawing tool to write the number of vertices inside. We had a discussion about why you can’t make a circle using this app.
We also used the Pattern Shapes app. Students made patterns using shapes and colors.
Again, using the drawing tool, they numbered the vertices. In addition to the shape and color pattern, they noticed there is also a number pattern.
To reinforce these iPad skills, we have pattern blocks in our math center and real geoboards. During our math talks, we talk about the attributes of these shapes. By bringing in both virtual practice and hands-on activities and putting them in our math journal, we are making connections and developing confidence. During these activities, it became more evident that I have some students with fixed mindsets. While we actively work on having a growth mindset, those who tend to struggle are the ones that give up easily. By providing multiple modalities of learning, engaging in math talks, and reinforcing learning with hands on, the aim is to encourage that growth mindset, even if it means a bit of productive struggle. For many, productive struggle is difficult because the grown- ups in their lives tend to rescue them from it. We work diligently to create independent thinkers and problem solvers.
“Can’t we all just get along?” -Rodney King
So we’ve just finished 8 days of the new school year and to my utter shock and disbelief, it took 7 of those days before it happened. I waited each day, bracing myself for it to occur. The. First. Tattle.
7 whole school days. Shocking really, when you think about a class of 5 year olds. It came just in time. We finally finished our class Code of Cooperation. This code is created along with my students as an agreement of what we believe a good classroom looks like. The children brainstormed a chart full of ideas and each day we talked about those things, narrowed them down, combined like ideas and finally settled on four things. 1. Put things where they go. 2. Be nice to others an share. 3. Listen and do what you are asked to do. 5. Try your best. We discussed what each of these things look like and the students suggested pictures that would match the concept. We came up with 2 pictures of each. The students will add a few sticky notes next week as they come up with more refinements. They already decided we need to identify what it means to be nice. Someone said to use kind words. That will go on a sticky note as an addition.
I guess I actually misspoke above when I said we “finished” it. It is never really finished. We will make additions and changes throughout the year as we go. It is a “living, breathing” agreement. The children all showed their commitment by signing around the periphery of the poster. When students have voice in how they will interact in their learning environment, there is true ownership. They are able to monitor their own behavior and rate how they did. This also creates accountability. I am not the sole monitor of their behavior. We will talk about the code daily and review our commitment to it.
This week, we will use our iPads to draw pictures of what each of the expectations looks like. They will share their ideas with their groups and we will work on how we will address those who choose not to follow our code. We will also work on how using the iPads fit into our Code of Cooperation.
When students have voice and choice in their learning and their learning environment, they become stakeholders. Even 5 year olds understand what it means to choose and to have their choices heard. Aren’t we all a little more cooperative when we have had a say in a process? The pictures we have and the ones we will add also create a visual reminder of what we agreed upon.
As a class, our shared vision is that we will work and learn together. By breaking that down into its components, we now have a working agreement that will serve as a guide for this school year.
Hopefully, it will reduce some of the tattling too. 🙂 One can always hope…
Today we will do exciting new things. Let’s get to it!