When You Look For The Good Things You Just Might Find Them

What follows is my submission to the MathTwitterBlogoSphere 2016 Blogging Initiative

The MTBoS is a group of passionate mathematics educators who take to twitter and blogs to share what it means to be a math educator. onegoodthingThis could be great lessons, reflection on one’s day, or a question relating to one’s practice. If you are looking for a PLC, there is one just waiting for you on the interweb!

I began this post trying to reflect about ONE good thing that happened during my day, but invariably when you begin thinking about good things more and more come to light. Now this post has morphed into the one good thing that happened during each period today. All of my classes are studying measurement and as a special education teacher each class is focused on a different aspect of measurement. I had 3 classes today (one class was on a trip and missed my period with them). Here is what the focus of each of our classes was…

  • Class 1 – Using a ruler to model placing fractions on a number line.
  • Class 2 – Using a scale to measure weight and compare measurements to determine if items are heavier, lighter, or the same weight.
  • Class 3 – Using integer arithmetic and number lines to investigate changes in temperature.

Class 1

The goal of the lesson was for students to understand that there are numbers between 0 and 1 and that those numbers can be represented as fractions that can then be placed on a number line (using a ruler as a model).

We began by asking students to fill in the measurements between 0 and 1 on the inch side of the ruler. One example of what we got was…

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After some direct instruction of certain vocabulary terms and visual modeling of what those terms meant, we came to a small but powerful understanding…

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Now we are setup to continue consolidating their understanding of what fractions mean and we can now use this model to investigate fraction arithmetic as well as equivalence.

Class 2

The goal of the lesson was for students to use a scale to measure the weight of classroom objects and compare those weights with their group members to find which items were the heaviest, the lightest, and which were the same.

In a terse reminder that students should determine the pace of the lesson (let alone the unit) we spent most of the class reviewing introducing what these vocabulary terms meant (e.g. heaviest, lightest, same, and different). We reviewed re-introduced the idea of similarities and differences by investigating students in the class (i.e. Mark is different than Laura because Mark wears glasses). Then we moved to differences in the measurements of classroom items.

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Yes, these are ordinary items in my classroom!

One good thing was the formative assessment we gathered of the use of the scale as a tool to measure weight. Students also showed the ability to estimate the weight of classroom items when selecting items to weigh. When asked to find heavy things the students picked items like hardcover books and boxes of markers. When asked to find light things they picked single calculators and markers. Andrew Stadel would be proud!

 

Class 3

In previous posts, I’ve described how we’ve introduced and continued our work with integer arithmetic. We have since continued our study by using lessons from Transition to Algebra unit 2. Today, in an effort to apply what we’ve learned so far in the context of measurement, I made a mashup of a couple of Illustrative Mathematics tasks (here and here).

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This particular student is not entirely fond of “doing work” and so she came up with a strategy which from her point of view was a way to get out of “doing work,” in my point of view was an efficient strategy. Her work saving strategy is described under the first question on the second page, “I took the one that looked to have the biggest difference.” Brilliant! Efficiency and laziness coming together to form my last good thing of the day.

What I learned from this exercise was once you begin looking for good things during your teaching day, you not only feel better about what you’ve done professionally, but you learn a lot from each individual student. Reflecting on your “one good thing” could be an inroad to increased formative assessment of not only your students, but your teaching practice as well.

So, what was your one good thing?

2 thoughts on “When You Look For The Good Things You Just Might Find Them

  1. Pingback: An Inch Wide and An Inch Deep: A Call To Action | The Learning Kaleidoscope

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