Are The “Process Expectations” About More Than Just Math?

This afternoon, I had the pleasure of sitting with some educators from our school and some educators from a neighbouring school to help plan our upcoming PA Day. For part of the PA Day, we’re going to be exploring the process expectations in math: problem solving, reasoning and proving, reflecting, selecting tools and strategies, connecting, representing, and communicating. As our conversation progressed today, I started to wonder if these mathematical processes are actually about more than just math.

It started with the problem solving expectation. I thought about an experience from this morning (that I wish I recorded by I accidentally missed). This Instagram post sums up what happened though.

While this discussion was not about a “math problem,” it did start with bringing a “problem” to the class: the need to display art for our upcoming Art Gallery. Students took this problem and started to generate solutions, which eventually led to a child measuring and cutting brown paper for our bulletin boards. 

This is just one example, but there could be so many more. I think about what happened the other day when it was really muddy outside, and we told the children that they could not go on the grass in the outdoor classroom. The other Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Raymond, mentioned that the grass may not grow back in the springtime if it continues to be trampled down. When the children went outside with their snacks, one of our students found some wood pieces behind the shed. He really wanted to get over to the little plastic house in the corner of the grassy area to eat his snack. He thought that if he could “build a bridge” over to the house, then he would be able to walk over there without walking on the grass. Now this is problem solving!

This problem solving continued as he ran out of wood and had to make other changes.

This was not just about problem solving though. Think about the tools and strategies used, reflecting during the process, and communicating thinking throughout. This communication continued after creating the bridge, as this child then used PicCollage to write a note to Mrs. Raymond to ask her about keeping it. 

I realize that there are math connections to this problem, especially related to measurement. This was not presented as a math problem though. In fact, it was not presented as a problem at all. We initially just said, “No mud or grass.” The child created the problem when he identified his desire to eat his snack in the plastic house and realized that he could not get to it without walking on the mud. This is when he found another way.

The Kindergarten Program Document emphasizes that math and language should not be taught in isolation, but instead, reinforced through play. This is where “noticing and naming” are so important. We can see the learning in action and make the connection, for the students, to the expectations. With this approach, I think that we get richer learning, but we also get these process expectations embedded in so much of what we do all day long. And as students problem solve, reason and prove, reflect, select tools and strategies, connect, represent, and communicate in one subject area, will this make them feel even more confident to do so in other subject areas? I think these process expectations cause us to think more about how children learn, in math and beyondWhat do you think?

Aviva

2 thoughts on “Are The “Process Expectations” About More Than Just Math?

  1. I think the process expectations across most (if not all) subjects are about more than just the subject indicated. There are art expectations involving creativity, but I would argue that we need creativity beyond just the realm of the arts. And certainly we want students using the process expectations of language arts across all subjects as they learn. I was once advised to read the front pages of curriculum documents because they lay out how you are supposed to go about teaching. I find that they remind me a lot of your kindergarten documents as they are very interdisciplinary in nature and talk about weaving other subjects throughout the teaching of that particular one.

    • Thanks for the comment, Melanie! Excellent points. Your point about creativity makes me think about Jo Boaler’s math norms, and the mention of “creativity” there. It really is in all subjects. Love your point about the front matter of the documents as well. Reading this front matter first (and in earnest) is something I started doing when the new Social Studies Document came out. I wish I heeded to this good advice before that. There’s a lot on “how” to teach and “what’s important to focus on” in this front matter. Thanks for extending this conversation!

      Aviva

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *