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?


2 thoughts on “Glimpses of Math Workshop

  1. I’m reading aloud The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane to my first grades. At one point in the story we read that Edward was thrown into the sea and stayed there for 297 days before he was scooped up in a fisherman’s net. Thinking aloud, I said, “I wonder how many months that would be?” We stopped during the story to figure out how many months Edward was in the sea. Our conversation went something like this: There are about 30 days in each month. If we count in groups of 3-10’s, 30, (I start writing our counts on my Smart Board with help from my students) 60, 90, 120, (kids begin to notice it helps when they count by 3’s and place a zero in the ones place value) 150, 180, 210, 240, 270, 300. That makes 10 groups of 30. Since 297 is close to 300. Edward was in the sea for about 10 months. My students really enjoyed bringing math into our reading time.

  2. In planning a school-wide study of writing this year, our emphasis is understanding the genre that we are expecting children to write in as readers, writers and teachers. ‘Math is storytelling’ reminds me to include math narratives. Thanks, Kassia.

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