Monday, August 11, 2014

Math training, day 1

First, it was difficult to get up at 5:30 this morning.  Second, I didn't factor in nearby construction, so I just barely made it to my 7 am training.  I wasn't late, I just wasn't my normal five to ten minutes early.  Because I was late by my own standards, I had one of the last choices in seating which meant I was stuck in a set facing the back of the room.  I've got a bit of a neck cramp from turning my head around all day.  All those minor factors aside, I shook off my frustration and settled in for six hours of learning.

That's when I learned this training is five days, not four.  I had planned to go into my new school Friday to start setting up my classroom.  There's also a school tour and it sounds like that's the day my administration is going over all of the details about our school.  Good thing I have two close friends also starting at my school so I can get the info :)

I like the ladies I'm sitting with and the instructors are friendly and knowledgeable.  Two of the other ladies at my training are at my former coach's school so I shared how lucky they are to have her guidance.  

Then the math activities started.  Now, I've been to a lot of trainings over the past five years.  I like learning and new strategies.  90% of what was covered today I've heard before.  Now I could be grumpy about this, or I could be fortunate that I've had some great mentor teachers and coaches who've already shared this information.  I'm choosing the second option and going to focus on the new information I learned today.

One of the videos we watched was a middle school Number Talk.  Most of the time the videos are focused on elementary, so it was nice to see a change.  The teacher set the norms for the problem: (123-76)

1. Don't solve traditional algorithm
2. You may write down numbers, but you need to try this in your head
3. Thumbs up when you've got the answer (standard Number Talks procedure)

The teacher then allowed for think time.  Instead of asking for the answer, he asked what is know about the answer.  I'd never heard this question phrased and I will definitely be using it in my classroom.

The students responded that the answer was positive and less than 100.  Another student estimated the answer to be close to fifty based on his rounding (125-75).  

From there, the teacher asked for strategies for solving and answers.

I loved how this simply question gives students a daily opportunity to practice estimating and reasonableness. I like that this wording helps them think critically about the problem but I'm not the one telling them what to think.

I'm embracing the mindset of being their math coach, not their math teacher

I want them to make mistakes. I want them to make their own discoveries.

Now, it's time for homework before day 2 tomorrow!


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