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Glimpses of Math Workshop

September and May are my favorite teaching months. September because everything and everyone is fresh and full  of hope for the school year ahead. May because it is a month full of moments in which you marvel at how much your students have learned, at the amazing people they are.

There have been many of these May moments in our math workshop lately. We have done a lot of work around the idea that math is storytelling, that you need to be able to tell and interact with the context and story when problem solving in order to figure out a problem.

We use these mathematician statements to encourage this kind of thinking and set a purpose:

• “Mathematicians listen to the story and tell it again to figure out the problem.”
• “Mathematicians think about what is happening in the story. This helps them solve the problem.”
• “Mathematicians look for their own problems to talk about and solve. They are creative.”

We’ve been using some of the story mats from Kathy Richardson’s Developing Number Concepts, Book 1: Counting Comparing and Pattern to help generate some stories(Thanks, Katie for reminding me of these!) We talked about different kinds of stories we could create, the questions we were asking of the solvers of our problems, whether the result would be more or less than our starting point based on the action in the problem.

Here is Bryan telling an ocean story.

We’re also always engaged in counting collections. This week we counted a giant collection of gum drops for a spring fairy (long, involved imaginative story created by class behind this fairy!). I loved watching as children organize, count, and talk about the collection. In the beginning of the year counting collections focused on maintaining 1:1 and the number word sequence. Now we spend time focusing on finding efficient ways to group and count.

Here is Madeline organizing a collection of gum drops into groups of five.

We’re savoring the May moments in our classroom. What end-of-year moments are amazing you in your classroom?

Math Is Storytelling

Just returning from the NAEYC annual conference in Orlando,  my head is swimming with ideas–ideas that both extend and challenge my previous beliefs. I love that hopeful and refreshed feeling of returning to my classroom after an amazing conference feeling ready to take on the world!

I want to share an abbreviated version of my presentation, “Mathematics is Storytelling: Bringing Play and a Sense of Narrative to Problem Solving” with you all. And while the slides only tell part of the story, I hope they give you a sense of all that is possible when you build a culture of problem solving and live a rich mathematical life alongside your students.

So, how are you bringing play and a sense of narrative to problem solving in your classroom?

Next week I travel to Orlando for the annual NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) conference. My presentation is called “Mathematics is Storytelling: Bringing Play and a Sense of Narrative to Problem Solving,” and it is all about using storytelling to strengthen children’s understanding of problem solving.  I thought I’d give you a sneak peek at a couple of pictures from the presentation.

This kindergartener explores counting collections and expands her ability to tell a mathematical story through Trick or Treating play.

Two kindergarteners solving a difficult problem type using an imaginative, familiar context, The Gingerbread Man.

Ahmed records his thinking for the problem, “The Gingerbread Man needs to cross 13 stones to get across the river. After hopping on the tenth stone he takes a rest. How many more stones does he need to hop across to get to the other side of the river?”

Ahmed records his strategy and says, “Ten stones and three more is thirteen. I just saw ten and three more!”

For those of you who will be in Orlando next week at the conference, please join me at my session on Saturday, November 5th from 1-2pm. For anyone else interested, I’ll be posting the presentation on my blog and tweeting from NAEYC sessions (@kassiaowedekind) as well!