I think I figured out why I am such a math person! I always thought it was connected to spending hours with my grandfather, a high school math teacher. I used to sit at his feet and beg him to teach me more!!! I was doing long division before 2nd grade. BUT, NO!!! I am reading Chapter six when --- wait for it ---- I find out that Mathematics Their Way was the go to book for creating math centers in 1976! (I will let you guess who entered kindergarten in 1976!)
Mathematics Their Way is all about giving students foundational experiences working with concrete objects. I don’t remember much about Kindergarten, other than Miss Garside wore only dresses. My principal was Mr. Dix, I believe. (He wore cowboy boots.) We had all day kindergarten because it was a rural district and they couldn’t afford to run the busses. It was cheaper to pay the kindergarten teacher! Imagine that!
Anyway, we must have used manipulatives? Right? I just don’t recall. I racked my brain to think about Miss Burr, my first grade teacher. I just don’t remember the math instruction. Hmmmm… Second grade I had Mrs. Erickson, I vaguely recall reading groups, but not the math. I must have had some really concrete instruction or how else would I have come through school with such a solid understanding of math. (I may have taken Engineering Calculus for fun my first semester of college.)
I decided to look up my itty, bitty, teeny, tiny school. Look what I found! They burned the building down! SAY What!
Kindergarten was in the basement, first and second grades were upstairs.
On to Chapter Six...
I love organization! I grew up in a house with a marine. EVERYTHING had a place, and everything belonged in its place. I have taken that with me from my home to my classroom.
I have shelves with plastic shoe boxes for materials. I put each math center for the week in a box with all the supplies. I have other math supplies on another shelf nearby. I label everything. It makes it easier on everyone.
I like to use clear see through containers that are sized for the materials. I love the plastic shoe boxes, and my other favorite is the 9 ounce size rectangular Ziploc snack size tubs! A 24 pack of crayons fits in them perfectly! So do dice, centimeter cubes, counters, I could go on and on.
Check out Teach it with Class - this is where I saw the original post.
I spent the last week of school sorting though my collection of math materials. I gave away things that I hadn't used and reorganized what I did. It felt good!
I plan to make sure all the materials are accessible to my students during my math workshop. I don't think I will put materials in the center boxes, rather I will let the students determine what math materials they need.
I want to provide a solid base of foundational mathematical knowledge. I want the students to understand why the answer is the answer -- not just cough up some formula and produce the answer. It matters.
I asked my mom, a retired teacher, why she had me take pre-calculus in high school. I wasn't able to take typing, as pre-calculus and typing were offered the same hour. Clearly, I wasn't going to need typing skills! LOL!! I know you've all done the math (pun intended.) I'm 43, we didn't even use computers when I was in high school!!!
Back to my mom, she said I needed to take calculus to further develop my critical thinking skills. She said it was important to understand the process of solving a problem, the "why". (She also has a math minor. She spent her first year teaching 9th grade Algebra in inner city Atlanta in 1966.)
This is what is critical for my firsties. They need more than a formula. They deserve more than a formula. They need to develop critical thinking skills. These skills transfer to all areas of learning and life. I'm pretty sure that's why I teach!
I'm updating my wish list. You should check out the site.
Last year they sent me a box of Kleenexes!!