Association of Teachers of Mathematics in Maine

Week 3 (January 25-31) Chapter 3 - Responding to These Changes: What to Expect and Advocate

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  • 05 Feb 2013 7:12 PM
    Reply # 1199918 on 1189563
    Katrina Hall
    First....apologies for the late response. 

    When taking a traditional calculation situation such as one which asks for the application of the distributive property and changing it to a situation where students have to think there is sense of stress with students.  I have to say that my students like to "plug and chug."  I am not sure because it is easy for them but because there is the instant gratification received when it is right.  With a problem solving type of situation or an alternative style approach, students struggle with thinking, perseverance and not knowing if the answer is right.  There is the constant question "Is this right?" This is not fault but our own.  We have created this need in students and now have the challenge in front of us.  However, every teacher needs to take on this challenge.  Can we do it?
  • 06 Feb 2013 9:22 PM
    Reply # 1201155 on 1189563
    Peggy Brown
    Glad to see  I'm not the only one having some trouble keeping up with the responses!  I am enjoying reading the book and all of your entries. 
    My 6th graders have been working on perimeter problems like this:   A square mirror has a perimeter of 8 feet. How long is each side?  and The perimeter of a bedroom door is 24 feet. The door is 9 feet tall. How wide is it?
    These are kids who struggle with both reading and math so we spent time talking about squares versus rectangles and the word rectangular.  Kids worked in pairs, or small groups to come up with a labeled sketch to represent the verbal description.  Working backwards to find the missing sides on the bedroom door is  a challenge, but we're getting better at it.  I'm going to try the 20 cm of ribbon problem tomorrow or Friday.

    A colleague is teaching the division of fractions and the learning target requires the kids to use a visual model to represent the division of a fraction by a fraction.  She was surprised at how challenged her so called "top" kids were by this.  They wanted to use the algorithm and move on.  Showing how it works and coming up with real world examples is making them think.
  • 07 Feb 2013 7:24 PM
    Reply # 1202149 on 1189563
    Evelyn Krahn
    Sorry for the late posting.

    One of the concepts at this time of year is introducing third grade students to multiplication. Using the tradition method I would have presented an equation on the whiteboard with a word problem to go along with it and disscused as a group how to  find the solution. By using the principals of the CCSS as a guide I introduced multiplication using a would problem which included an illustration projected on the whiteboard. Tools such as tiles, graph paper, colored pencils and a ruler were provided to the students to use while working with  peer. I learned that when students are given the tools and the opportunity to work things out with their peers the joy of mathematics comes alive!

  • 10 Feb 2013 2:02 PM
    Reply # 1204095 on 1190915
    Nola Urban
    Nola Urban wrote:

    I will endeavor to “take a task or item you would typically use with your students and "take it to the alternative."  What did you learn?”


    Here is what I did with students and what we learned:
    First I came up with a survey for students to complete with one or more adults in their lives.  They returned with their completed surveys and we looked at how, where, and how much adults use math in everyday life.  We determined that most adults around us use computers or calculators to do 75% of the math needed to be done in a day, with the other 25% being done mostly mentally with estimates.  Occasionally, people indicated pencil & paper were used.  The difference between math used at work versus math used at home was also intriguing.  Most adults do more math at work on a calculator or computer, whereas the math at home had a more even ratio between mental math and calculator math.  There were some outliers (that was a great discussion!) and interesting centers of measurement.  We were able to do these comparisons because we had already discussed box-n-whisker plots and how to determine outliers.  The data were tabulated using percentages so as to have a more fair comparison between categories.

    One side benefit to this assignment was what the students learned about their parent's lives - especially at work.  Several students wanted to just have the adults complete the survey (and some probably did go this route), I tried to impress upon them that part of the assignment was the conversation.  One boy felt that his mom had no need of math since all she did was babysit all day!

    Now onto the next "take it to the alternative!"

  • 19 Feb 2013 9:19 PM
    Reply # 1212721 on 1189563

    As I currently do not have a classroom I will reflect back onto an alternative task I did when I was in the classroom.


    We were doing our geometry unit and I was quite bored. The plug and chug of the formulas for area, perimeter, and surface was just not cutting it! So I did the unthinkable and did a hands-on unit that had us creating lap quilts! I had about 80 middle school students who learned how to sew, including seam allowances! They studied patterns while creating their quilt designs, calculated area in reference to the square yards of material needed for each color in their quilts, multiplication with decimals while estimating the overall cost of the materials needed, measurement as they created their templates and cut the fabric, and a sense of community service when they donated their quilts to the local cancer center!


    The shifts discussed in this reading really focus on curriculum and instruction. I believe we will not see the results we hope for if the shifts do not take place together...curriculum and instruction. Remember that the text book is a resource or tool to support our curriculum and instructions

  • 26 Mar 2013 10:14 PM
    Reply # 1252523 on 1189563
    Maureen Brown
    Decided to be fashionably late ....better late than never.....etc, etc...

    Taking the "same old" to the next level - as we were working on slope etc. we talked about the obvious "Where do we use this?" The students researched the ADA and talked about how it affected their they had never been in a building that was not accessible to everyone. We then went out to the ramp outside and took measurements of the ramp system leading to the back of our building. They figured the slope of the three parts of the ramp and figured if it met the ADA. They went on to write a letter to the school board about their findings. I also found a lab for the slope of the stair "Are these stairs to code?" 

    This lesson goes a bit further asking for the angle of inclination which may be a stretch for some of my kids but we will attempt to look at the trig in this part...or may with a group that wants to deal with it ...

    We can compare and contrast the information - see what they notice. I am trying to line up and architect to come and continue the discussion.  

    I want to share the "What's on the test" strategy with my administration as we forge ahead with our proficiency based we write and rewrite some of our summative assessments.
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