I think back to the some of the first professional development opportunities where I was exposed to the RAFT; engaging students by giving them a role, audience, focus and topic. However, a recent webinar brought the idea of a RAFT to a higher level for me. Dr. Robert Dillon, Principal of Maplewood Richmond Heights Middle School in Missouri, shared ideas and resources for adding student engagement to the CCSS. Project-based learning, experiential learning, and technology-infused learning all discussed as being best practices. However, his main point was going beyond the RAFT and made the important statement that it is the role of the educations for set the stage for innovation. It is the role of teachers and leaders to support students in using mathematics to change our schools, communities, states and world. If a RAFT is a teacher’s tool to engage the learner then providing an authentic audience and a genuine opportunity to make a change in our school, community, or beyond is truly a way of maximizing engagement, especially in mathematics.
I loved the examples shared in this reading. Prior to the Accuplacer influencing what I teach, I used to have my algebra students pick a math project to apply the various graphing and algebraic skills they had learned. I kept it pretty open ended with just certain parameters such as a poster presentation, modeling graphs, etc. I have a full notebook of these wonderful projects and like the teachers described here, found the tasks to be rich, engaged the students, and truly made the learning of mathematics realistic. But then the pressures of “knowing” what was on the Accuplacer and time constraints left no time for these projects. I know in my heart, however, that applications are where the true learning of mathematics is.
When reading the samples from the text I found myself smiling and eager to read the end result. How wonderful for the students to have a problem to solve and to challenge a company on it’s claims!
My example of this is very different, but I believe it to be appropriate for the ages of the students I teach. (I teach Pre-K) The lesson was to introduce and demonstrate one to one correspondence. Sometimes, this can be difficult for children to grasp at a young age unless we use samples of “real life”. When demonstrating this, we discussed getting dressed in the morning and I asked, “How many socks do you put on each foot?” . They can visualize and understand this example because it relates to them personally getting ready in the morning. Then, I had 6 pairs of shoes and 6 pairs of socks on the rug for the group to work with. I asked them to match them up and put the right number of socks into each of the shoes. They worked together as a group and each one had a turn matching a making sure that one sock went in each shoe.
Later, to expand the lesson, I asked them to work on setting a table for snack time ensuring that the table was set with each student having a carton of milk, a straw and a napkin. It was a group effort, but each child had to check to see if its spot had everything that was necessary. When not, they were asked to get the missing item. For me, that checked for understanding and allowed the child to problem solve in a real life situation. (a four/five year old real life situation!)
Where I fail is producing the arifact to show the students work. I suppose I should be taking pictures of the students producing the one to one correspondence as evidence of them being able to meet the standard. I will try to incorporate gathering more artifacts as I continue.
ATOMIM is an affiliate of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics and of the Association of Teachers of Mathematics in New England.