Before I begin, I should probably say that my school is an Everyday Math school. I do like Everyday Math but I often wish I had more flexibility with my time and I feel that my students need a deeper understanding of number sense and more problem solving. These are both present in Everyday Math but I think my students need more. I generally follow the Everyday Math program fairly closely but I want to have more of a workshop feel than I currently do. Everyday Math lessons follow a predictable format: mental math and reflexes, a whole group lesson, practice which can include independent work, partner work and games which is similar to a workshop model. After doing some thinking and talking with my teammates we decided that we can use most of these parts and create more of a workshop feel on our own. So we will still use Everyday Math but will begin to tweak things more and more as the year progresses.
Below are some of my ideas of things that I want to try and/or change.
- The first thing that I plan to do is to be more open to "going with the flow" of ideas that come up naturally in any math related discussion. I will not keep one eye on the clock and worry about "getting finished" on time. I will follow the students' thinking and have them share more with the rest of the class. This will help foster that workshop feeling that I am trying to create.
- The next thing that I want to add is to begin to use what Kassia Omohundro Wedekind calls Mathematician Statements. These statements are just lists of things that mathematician do. Some examples include: Mathematicians ask themselves questions and Mathematicians persevere. This will help to develop the workshop culture by labeling the actions that mathematicians do as they solve problems.
- I also plan to add small group meeting times or Math Exchanges to our day. I'll start with meeting with one small group each day towards the end of our math time. These groups will be heterogeneous and will change over time. My goals for the small group meetings are to be able to work more closely with students because they are in a smaller group, to have more time for students to share their ideas with each other, and to be able to gather data about how each student approaches problems and what they know and can do. I also hope that students will feel more comfortable sharing their thinking in a smaller group.
- Another way that I plan to add more math to my day is to do some math during our morning meeting. I have two books that I am planning to use to help me with this. They are Doing Math in Morning Meeting by Andy Dousis and Margaret Berry Wilson and Number Sense Routines by Jessica Shumway.
- I will also use many of the ideas in Number Sense Routines to add to the mental math portion of the Everyday Math lesson. I have ten frames that I made years ago and haven't used much lately at all. I can't wait to dust them off.
- I also made many games that I read about in a book by Constance Kamii years ago. (I can no longer remember the name of that book.) I plan to use these along with other activities like counting collections (from Math Exchanges) to provide choices of things for students to work on while I meet with my small group each day.
- Keeping notes on student strengths and next steps will also be part of my small group time each day.
- Finally, I want to take Kassia Omohundro Wedekind's advice and teach my students to live like mathematicians. I want us to notice the math that is all around us all the time and to take the time to bring it up and talk about it.
Note to Self: This post is getting long but I wanted to add this note to myself about things to add to our math workshop later. Remember to think about how number talks can fit in and to add technology as one of the choices - things like explaining your thinking in a Voice Thread or in an app like Show Me or Screen Chomp on the iPad. Those can also be future posts.