Saturday, August 5, 2017

Who is in the driver's seat?

I finally made it to the beach and am blessed to be spending one of the last weekends of my summer on the Central California coast with my family. This is one of my favorite places to be, and how could it not be with views such as these:

As I sat in the passenger seat on the way here today, I was reminded of a time more than a decade ago when I was getting ready to drive over here by myself. I was pretty sure I knew the way, as I had been in the car countless times as my husband drove us here. But when it came right down to it, I was worried that I'd miss a few essential turns, and that somehow I'd end up miles away from where I was supposed to be, probably stranded on the side of the road.

Then it struck me: how many of our students feel this way when left to do work on their own? Do we ever allow them a chance to be in the driver's seat? Or are they constantly tucked into the passenger seat, just along for the ride?

Enter Making Number Talks Matter:
Product Details
Again, here's a link
I just finished reading and HIGHLY recommend this to anyone who teaches math. I thought I knew what number talks were until I read this. Now I totally get it. 

I will be doing number talks EVERY DAY in my support classes, and will incorporate them regularly in my math 7 classes as well. The point that was driven home for me in this book is that number talks make the students responsible for the talking, and allow them to interact with their peers in the context of numbers. In other words...this puts STUDENTS in the driver's seat. I'm just there to guide the way. 

So here's where I'm stuck: what topic to begin? The authors recommend starting with dot talks, which I will do. I am torn, however, with whether to begin with subtraction or multiplication. Thoughts? Our first unit is proportional reasoning, so division is also tempting. 

Now if only I could get into my classroom! But for now I'll just soak up the sun at the beach.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Measure What You Value

It started with a little quote:

Unless you measure what you value you'll end up valuing what you measure.

This quote was passed along to me from a wonderful former teacher of mine whom I am now lucky enough to call a colleague. Now, we may not be saying it exactly the way it was originally spoken, but judge for yourself. She heard it here in a talk by Chase Orton called "Think Like a Fitbit: Measure What We Value".

Now this got me wondering...

1) What am I measuring?  To be honest, mostly multiple choice assessments. Granted...the questions are formatted to reflect the style of questions on end-of-year assessments, but really who are we kidding? And all this is just skills...whether or not they could answer that question that time. I WAS MEASURING THE CORRECT ANSWER.

2) What do I value?   Critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, perseverance, communication, kindness, collaboration...I VALUE THEIR THINKING.

3) I love my Fitbit. No more manually pausing the tracker on my phone when I run. And I can't afford an iWatch, but this shows me my text messages and it feels almost like the same thing.

So, this summer I have been reading (and re-reading) books I've had on the shelf for a while, all while reflecting on my past years as a teacher. Last summer I read Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler which I highly recommend. I poured through some of the key chapters again this year, then added to my reading list with these beauties:

Get it here
Our school was introduced to John Hattie's research by our new principal last year and I figured it was time to see what it's all about! But as it turns out I have devoured this book. Cover to cover. More thoughts coming on how it will impact my classroom this year.

Get it here
I'll be teaching a support class this year (again) and want to do a better job. Enter number talks. I'll admit I have not finished this yet, but I'll keep at it!

Get it here
I dove into this book a week after school was out. Easy to read and a VERY good guideline for those of us wanting to do a better job of integrating growth mindset teaching throughout the year, rather than just in the beginning.

So I've had a lot to think about this summer, and have had wild dreams of changing the classroom at a time. Then, I cleaned out my garage and realized I had some barstools from a used dining room set that never made it into our new house when we moved in...a year ago...oops! But guess what? We didn't miss them! So that got me thinking it would be really cool if I had a bistro table in my classroom. One thought led to another, then....boom! Flexible seating is happening. 

But more on that another time. 

I'll leave you with the same two questions as you consider your classroom and practices that started me on this self-proclaimed revolution:

What are you measuring?

What do you value?

Who is in the driver's seat?

I finally made it to the beach and am blessed to be spending one of the last weekends of my summer on the Central California coast with my f...