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. 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 🙂 ), we’re also going to co-create some math success criteria this week. I know that students will likely need more scaffolding during this first success criteria attempt, but by 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, “What 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 math skills or concepts (such as patterns, spatial sense, and sorting). I want students to 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 students 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. 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!