I have always been a huge lover of math! I love solving problems, working through equations, and applying math skills to everyday tasks. While I love doing math, I am not always the best at explaining HOW to do “math”. I understand that there are several strategies for solving various math tasks, but I usually find one and stick to it. Which means I sometimes forget the importance of sharing multiple strategies.
I was also really nervous for my three week teaching block to begin because I had no idea how I was going to teach three grades of math with only one hour a day. This was new for my cooperating teacher too. She developed a chart system in which she would provide math game time, lesson time, SPLASH math time, and work time. She would alternate the schedule daily to try to have lesson time for two grades per class. We ended up deciding that she would work with the grade five’s while I taught the grade three’s and four’s using the chart system. This choice was partly to relieve some of my stress, but also because the grade five’s were behind and struggling on the unit she taught prior to my three week teaching block.
I had the opportunity to teach the grade three’s double and triple digit adding and subtracting. While I taught one of my two grade four’s about place value and adding and subtracting using borrowing and carrying. While I taught the other grade four multiplication.
“The students have been doing well in math, for the most part. One super interesting thing that happened in math this week was our grade four student who has really, really been struggling, is now doing much better due to one tiny adjustment. This student is a unit behind our other grade four student and has been struggling with adding and subtracting. My coop and I brought this concern to the principal and within seconds she had an idea, which changed this student’s whole math world. We put her math equations on 1cm grid paper, lining up every digit, and wow! This student went from getting over half her questions wrong, to getting almost all of them right! So amazing.”
This is a reflection that I had after feeling super defeated about one of the grade four’s continuous struggles. My cooperating teacher was out of ideas and so we went to our principal. By reaching out we helped build confidence in our student and bring success to her work and understanding. I loved seeing this transformation in my student. Her whole attitude toward math changed when we found a way to help her succeed!
As with ELA, I learned that Math is about routine and adjusting with the students needs. Luckily the Math Makes Sense textbooks have great lessons already made for you. So, I found it best to read over the lesson the night before and write down important steps to emphasize, or possible other strategies to teach, or things to eliminate that I knew would confuse my students.
While I found that sometimes I was reteaching ideas or back pedalling in the middle of a lesson as my students weren’t understanding, for the most part I think I did a great job of supporting their needs and learning.
One thing that I noted was a huge change for my grade three’s understanding was creating my own examples while teaching that related to my students interests or funds of knowledge. For example, two of my grade three’s knew a lot about cattle and horse care, including medical needle measurements. So, I would use these ideas to create realistic questions, this brought their engagement and “try levels” to a maximum.
I look forward to my future math classes and bringing math to life with my students through engaging examples, games, and manipulatives.