One of the reasons I opted to be an elementary teacher instead of a middle school or high school teacher is because I love teaching and learning about everything. I couldn't commit to just one subject. My passions change from one year to the next, and this year, I'm very passionate about teaching math.
This is the first year we're working with the Common Core in my district, and it has been a fun challenge to get to know all the new standards. It has been a big transition for my students, however. Many of them seem to be used to finding answers and being done with problems -- not persevering through challenges, representing their thinking in multiple ways, or explaining their thinking. As a result, the first 6 weeks were tough for some of my students.
We've also been talking about the Standards for Mathematical Practice lately, and connecting those to our process work in class -- especially when we write about math. The SMP's are pretty abstract for fourth graders, so I tried breaking them down into questions for students. For example, when we deal with the first standard to "Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them," we use these prompts:
posters for each of the eight Standards for Mathematical Practice, and I often see students refer to them when they're working on their problem solving and explanations.
Another thing that I've done to help with the SMP's is share student work in class discussion. On Thursday, we worked on a complicated story problem involving multiple factors of a number. Students had to solve the problem and write their explanation on a sheet of white paper. I covered up the names of the students, and displayed 5 or 6 with a document camera. Students read the explanations and were asked to name one thing the mathematician did well and one thing that could be done better. I was really impressed by the suggestions that students were giving! They were commenting about the efficacy of different number models, the organization and labeling of work, the thoroughness of the approach, and the need to have both numbers and words in a good explanation. It was some powerful feedback, and I'm excited to see where we'll go with this next. I can tell my students' confidence with math is increasing, and I really think they're becoming much more competent in their writing about math. Next week, I'll be giving them more writing prompts in math to include in their math journals, so we'll have to see how that goes.
To get your own freebie copy of the math quote poster, click here. My Standards for Mathematical Practice Posters are available in my TpT store, or by clicking on the image below. They're on sale this weekend for $2.25.
Are you teaching Common Core math in your classroom? What challenges, if any, have you been facing this year? I'd love to hear about it in the comment section!
Have a great weekend!