Wow three weeks away from school is a lot. While I came back feeling rested and ready to work again I felt like there was a lot of starting over to be done as well, new classes, instructors and even a new student in my practicum classroom. This Thursday I was very happy to be back in my classroom. I really missed my students over the three-week break. This week I was able to participate in many things in our classroom and spend some time connecting with both my students and SA. I tried something slightly different while doing attendance both in the morning and after lunch, instead of having my students just say “here” or something along those lines I asked them to respond to a question in the morning it was their favourite thing they DID over the break and in the afternoon it was their favourite desert. My students for the most part had exciting breaks, travelling, skiing and going on special day trips with their families as well as dancing in the Nutcracker, our favourite deserts are chocolate cake and ice cream. This was great for me as it allowed me to hear from all of the students. Using attendance as a time to learn little bits of information about them gives me new and interesting information about them and helps me come up with questions to ask them later in the day when I get a chance to connect with them.
My SA has introduced Big Five a set of 5 daily math problems for their morning warm up. I was fascinated by all of the different strategies my students came up with on their own and in small groups to answer the problems, of course, this meant that some of the answers were all over the place but the thinking that was going on was great! My students were using strategies and skills such as diagrams, repeated addition, multiplication and division as well as simple algebra to solve the problems presented to them. My students have not learned formal algebra or order of operations yet. However a couple of them were able to use it to solve problems without realizing it, they knew that a girl earned $12 for 3 hours of babysitting and were asked to figure out how much she was paid per hour. The students explained to me that they asked themselves ” three times what equals 12? and that they knew 3 times 4 equals 12 so that must be the answer.” I would have written it as $12= 3*$x which is the same thing the students described orally when solving the problem. I wonder how much more the students can do and understand when given the opportunity to solve problems and try new strategies rather than just memorizing facts and formulas.
I see the need for my students to know their basic math facts but they showed me something very important in this exercise that connected to what was discussed in our math methods class on Friday, that students can solve problems when allowed time to think through it and try different things. I am now wondering how the creative thinking and activities that are encouraged in my practicum classroom is influencing my students ability to reason through and come up with strategies to solving math problems?
While we had a typical division 4 day as in where did our day go there was just too much this week to describe so I made the decision to write about the one thing that got me thinking and has inspired my upcoming essay for my Math methods class. I want to know how creativity affects students math skills particularly when it comes to problem solving.
I’m also excited for my next visit to my practicum classroom as I have a special guest arranged for my students that ties in with the letter writing activity that we did during my 2 week practicum.