Amplifying Minds

Learning and Growing Together

Shaking Hands-Math, part 2

OMG was the way the imaginary Tweet I began when I left the 5th grade math class. (I sent it later, promising a reflection, and so, here it is.)

There’s never enough time.  I always overplan, but  because this was the first math class, and I really wanted to include all parts, I really rushed the kids. I own that.  They didn’t finish the problem, the time for reflection was minimal, and they mostly complied with the various activities, without deep conversation. They didn’t get to share strategies or talk about the problem in a class discussion, so there is a lot left for the next class.

There are several things I really want these kids to understand–

a.) While the answer, in some cases, is extremely important, we’re going to be using messy questions to think about process and strategies, and sometimes we won’t center on the answer. Today was one of those days.

b.) There are many ways to solve most problems, and there usually just isn’t a right or wrong one.  There will be more efficient or less efficient ways, and we’ll talk about that.

c.)  Complicated problems are what they’ll encounter in life. We’ll practice those, often.  And, math is NOT simply arithmetic.

So today, they got involved in something that encompassed all three of those things, and when many of them figured out we were NOT coming to closure on the right answer, there was an amazing amount of frustration, even though they hadn’t had enough time to really get to the end of their own mathematical processes.  Yet, the comments on our Today’s Meet were mostly thoughtful and honest, not frustrated. I’ll be interested to see what they have to say after we look at some strategies and final answers.

So the next class will be sorting some of their responses to the “what is math?” question, looking at some of their work under the document camera, with them sharing strategies they used, and then groups finishing the work to get to a resolution. When they finish that, we’ll ask them to make up their own handshake questions.  It’s a pretty intense beginning to what looks to be an interesting year!

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