Monday, August 29, 2016

Blending math learning approaches

In February, I had a special opportunity to travel to Baldwin County, Alabama and visit classes where I got some interesting ideas. At the time, I had little idea how much I would be able to incorporate some of the ideas as soon as I have. It was a unique opportunity to share approaches to learning across the country. I found great value in the trip and brought back some ideas that I explored immediately, but some were placed in my "ed bag" (my mind vault). One experience included observing students in a math class complete a Gallery Walk. Each student had a worksheet where they could work out math problems. They worked in partners and walked around the hallway where their teacher had placed different posters with math problems on them. They used this opportunity to have a low-tech, high learning day where they applied the Pythagorean Theorem. Observing the students, talking with the teacher, and soaking in the learning happening was incredible.

Flash-forward to last week. Over the summer, I had started hearing about Math 360. I took interest in it because as I started a new role at a new school, I would take on teaching one math class and becoming familiar with new ideas seemed like something I definitely should do. I browsed the Internet and looked at fellow educational Twitter users' Tweets about this approach to math learning. I wanted to know how I could do it. Going to the training and purchasing the available supplies was a little out of reach for me in the immediate future, but I could pull aspects of the learning approaching and incorporate it into my class. As I wrote my lessons for the week, I knew I wanted to incorporate what I could, how I could.

Then, I remembered my Baldwin County experience.


I took the two ideas and I blended them together. I made large posters with math problems for the current chapter. I laminated them and put them up around the room. Additionally, I put one problem up on the white board and one on the SMART board. I broke the students into small groups and handed each group a dry erase marker. With their Interactive Notebooks in hand, students made their way around the room. Their task was simple: complete all of the problems in their Interactive Notebooks and take responsibility for solving at least two problems up in the room. They spent the entire class period making their way around the room and getting math practice. The next day, we came back together in the classroom and went through the problems as a class. This allowed students to correct their work. We identified specific issues together, they made their corrections as needed, and we were ready to move forward.

As we reflected on the experience together, I came up with one modification. (We will do this again!) When we do this in the future, students will complete all of the problems in their Interactive Notebooks, then when we come back together, each group will take a turn leading through the steps of one or two problems with the class.

I left the posters up around the room to show parents at Back to School Night, too, so they could see what their students did in math during our first full week of school.

We are off and running and it is #EduAwesome without a doubt!

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