I had an interesting conversation with a parent today that has left me wondering. This mom mentioned to me that after **reading my blog post on math**, she asked her children, “What is math?” While her older son said that, “Math is everywhere,” her younger daughter just mentioned, “patterns,” as math.Â **Why is this so?**

That’s when I started to think about the **Early Learning Kindergarten Program** and even my approach to math at the beginning of the year. Math is so embedded in all that we do that maybe we don’t explicitly label it as such. Even when students count, sort, pattern, work with shapes, recognize numbers, and the list goes on, when this learning is a part of other learning, **how do we get students to explicitly reflect on math?**

On Thursday, when our **Playdough Store was closed**, I had the students reflect on what they learned as part of this project. While some ideas came quickly to mind (e.g., patterning and sorting), others needed prompts (e.g., number recognition and counting). Maybe we didn’t spend enough time reflecting throughout the process. Maybe even in a play-based learning environment, there needs to be a clear “learning goal” to guide the students’ learning and their reflection on this learning. I know that I’ve reconsidered my math plan for this week.

- I am going to start with a learning goal. We are going to look at what this goal means, and how we know that we’ve addressed this goal. This will also connect with our school’s focus on helping students take more control over their learning.
- If things go according to plan (
*and please note that this doesn’t always happen*đź™‚Â ), we’re also going to co-create some math success criteria this week. I know that students will likely needÂ more scaffolding during this first success criteria attempt, but byÂ looking at some of the**Process Expectations**together and getting students to think more about what they will achieve, this should help them be more aware of their math learning. - I’m going to make sure that there’s always sufficient time left each day to have students self-reflect on their learning as connected to this math learning goal and/or success criteria.
- I’m going to get students to explicitly label the math learning throughout the week, and we’re going to add to our,
**“WhatÂ Is Math?” Chart**as we uncover more “math skills and concepts.” - I‘m planning some real world provocations related to our big ideas in math (especially around understanding numbers), but also linking to other mathÂ skills or conceptsÂ (such as patterns, spatial sense, and sorting). I want students toÂ see connections between math topics.
- I’m going to provide lots of oral language opportunities around different math topics to give students a chance to discuss math, share questions, and answer questions as well. I want them to get used to using math vocabulary and engaging in purposeful math talk. Then even the “play time” will become “learning time.”

I don’t know how this will work, but I’ll never know unless I try. Based on my conferences with studentsÂ throughout the week, I can always modify this plan. I hope though that this planned and purposeful focus on math will help my students see math differently and engage in richer conversations about their math learning.Â **What do you think? How do you help students see “math” in what they do, and reflect on their learning throughout the process?** I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

Aviva

Love it! Hopefully this week I will finally meet the students I will be teaching and then I too can join along on your journey. Karen

Thank you so much, Karen! I can’t wait for you to get your new group of Grade 1’s and 2’s, and then we can continue learning and sharing together. Have a wonderful week!

Aviva

You’ve targeted critical elements for all of us:

-NOTICE and EXPLICITLY NAME the math learning

-bring attention (educators and students) to the mathematical processes

-play time IS learning time

-make explicit links for the students

-marinate the students in math talk throughout the day

-encourage flexible thinking

Once again, your reflective stance is contagious!

Thank you!

Thank you so much for your comment! I love how you so perfectly summarized all of my thinking. I know that I’ll be looking back at your comment as I continue to put this new plan into action.

Thanks for all of your support as I continue to learn along with my students and with so many amazing people online and in person! I love learning from you!

Aviva

These comments on Twitter reminded me of what I didn’t include in this post. Decided to add them here so others can see these important points as well.

Aviva

Aviva…

Such an important conversation we need to begin & cultivate in our students:)

Math seems to be this subject that lives in the ether… rather than in our every day. The sooner we invite students to see that Math is everywhere the better off we are…

I think Aviva this is where we have to model for our students the understandings we want them to come to. I feel too that we need to take a very deliberate stance in how we showcase strategies…

So many primary classrooms focus on deliberate teaching of reading strategies… have you come across the resource ‘What If Your ABC’s Were Your 123’s?’ written by Leslie Minton. It is a fantastic place to start.

Here is the link to have a quick peek:

http://www.amazon.ca/What-Your-ABCs-Were-123s/dp/1412936489

Keep me posted my friend… you have also given me a wonderful idea to help my daughter become a better reader!

Thanks so much for the comment, Jana, and the link to the resource. I just finished reading a book and I know what I’ll be reading next. đź™‚ I definitely agree that we need to deliberately teach students these strategies.

I hope that all goes well with your daughter and her reading!

Aviva

Hi Aviva,

I like how proactive you were in responding to a parent’s comments and used that to reflect on your Math instruction. I am eager to hear about how your grade 1s do in creating success criteria. What a great skill from a very young age!

Shauna

Thanks Shauna! I did co-create Success Criteria with my Grade 1’s the last time that I taught the grade. Today, we focused on a Learning Goal. It was a challenge, but it definitely helped guide students as they worked and learned together. I certainly heard more accountable math talk during math today, which makes me very happy. Another blog post perhaps â€¦

Aviva

Loved hearing you puzzle this out sparked by a conversation with a parent. One way I modeled thinking about math with my 3-5 yr. olds was to talk about power. If I was distributing a snack, I would say I was going to use the “power of math” to turn 4 things into 8 things. While building I would ask them to use the “power of math” to transform their 5 rectangular blocks into a different shape. It excited their minds and turned math into action they couldn’t wait to perform. We would use the “power of math” to turn a giant pile of blocks into nothing (by taking them away to baskets and shelves). Their emerging explanations about what was happening helped me understand their thinking.

Thanks for the comment, Robin! This is a very interesting idea. I kind of like seeing math as a “power.” Anything to make students more aware of math and what they’re learning and doing is great. I definitely noticed that this was lacking, and today, when we worked with a learning goal in mind, I started to see a change. Thanks for giving me something else to think about!

Aviva