Upon entering the room, the feeling was one that it would be an engaging, hands-on meaningful presentation. The speaker was from the Volusia County School District. She reviewed the Big Idea (Compose and decompose two-dimensional and three-dimensional geometric shapes) and Supporting Idea (Number and Operations). This included solving routine and non-routine problems by acting them out, using manipulatives, and drawing diagrams.
A few points were very interesting. She stated that the Grade Level Expectations used to be that a student could grasp a concept in 2-3 days. Now the GLE is 10 to 14 days. This allows teachers to focus and deepen understanding of concept that is being taught. In their county, there used to be and average of 83 standards to teach, now there are 18. Kindergarten has eleven. In addition, worthwhile mathematical tasks were emphasized in order to engage the student intellectually and to help develop math understanding.
It is important to note that reading is critical to Math. Students need to be able to read and interpret word problems and incorporate reading and math in the world around them. Furthermore, problem solving is a life skill. Teaching students how to go about problem-solving is necessary. Questions need to be asked such as:
ð What do I need to find out?
ð What do I need to know?
ð What is my solution?
ð Was my solution correct?
ð What if…?
We worked on a few hands on activities which included: Shifty Shapes (pattern blocks); Suitcase Solutions (tangrams); Shape Searches (decomposing shapes to identify hidden shapes); What is the One? (identifying relationships in fractions); Blocking Out Fractions (solve problems involving whole numbers, unit fractions, and mixed numbers).
“We’ve Got Problems” was a wonderful session that had us engaged in worthwhile mathematical tasks that I can’t wait to share with my students.
Written by: Maria Mallon