Friday, October 21, 2011


I have recently been experiencing an awakening of sorts. I teach first grade but that hasn't always been the case. I started my teaching career in middle school. I taught sixth grade my first year of teaching and then I was moved to eighth grade teaching Math and Algebra. I have to say that this wasn't my choice but I also must say that I ended up loving it. I taught middle school for 9 years and really became a "math person". I loved teaching math and helping students try to really understand math. I lived, breathed and dreamed math.

Fast forward to the present (skipping over several years of teaching 3rd, 4th and 5th grades) and I am where I have always wanted to be. First grade. One big difference between teaching middle school and elementary is that in elementary school you must focus on so many different content areas. I have to admit that I haven't been living, breathing and dreaming math while teaching first grade. I have really been focused on literacy. I have been working hard to create reading and writing workshops where I can meet with small groups and confer with individual students. I love doing this but recently something has been happening with my math teaching.

This summer I ordered a couple of professional books about teaching math and then after school started, I heard about another book, Math Exchanges by Kassia Omohundro Wedekind. I ordered that, too. I couldn't find the time to read them but the changes in my thinking were triggered. I started to really think about my math teaching and began to try to remember the things I truly believed about math and how students can best learn math. I knew that I needed to make some changes in my math teaching - especially in the area of having students think for themselves and solve mathematical problems. Then came the Math Exchanges blog tour and I jumped in. It was the final push that I needed to actually begin to read the books I had and get started with my changes.

While reading Math Exchanges, I started noticing student thinking more often in math and asking students to share their thinking - something that used to be second nature to me but that I had let fade away in first grade. One day we had a spontaneous discussion about whether zero was even or odd and I was hooked. I loved how my students were so excited to try and figure this out. They had a very heated but polite discussion about zero and eventually came to an agreement that zero was even based on the patterns they could see on a hundreds grid.

I have been able to finish reading Math Exchanges during my Fall Break and I have so many plans to change the way things work in our math block.  I still have more reading and learning to do but I can't wait to start making little changes each day - more to come about those changes in the next post. Thanks Kassia for spurring this math "awakening" in me.


  1. I am looking forward to reading about your thinking here , it should be right in time with my reading of Math Exchnages. So nice to see some professional talk about math!
    Thanks for sharing Jill!

  2. Can't wait to follow your journey! Sometimes we all need reminders about what is good within our busy lives.

  3. Deb and Mandy,
    Thanks for reading. Please feel free to share your ideas along the way, too. It takes a village to teach math. :-)

  4. Jill,
    Well...I made most of my profound comments on your most recent post, and I will say that isn't it fun to discover or rediscover something that speaks so loudly that you can't help but follow.