Daily Schedule

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Building Number Sense and a Love of Math - Chicago Conference

The conference I attended in Chicago was amazing. While both days were interesting and helpful, I particularly am inspired by Thursday’s topic: Building Number Sense and a Love of Math. This is a topic near and dear to me as I spent much of my youth and young adult life thinking I was “bad” at math. And, of course, lack of confidence leads to avoidance – and before you can say, “self fulfilling prophesy”, I became someone who had fairly limited math skills.

Not to blame my teachers, but I do believe that I was rushed through the math curriculum before beginning concepts were secure. I remember that panic would grow and grow as I realized that whatever I was being “taught” on a given day relied and was built on information that I didn’t understand in the first place. I became very good at “faking it”.

Over the years that I’ve taught young children, I gained more confidence. Researching the best ways to teach taught me some of the holes I had. I think in part because I didn’t like math as a child, I made sure that I made it fun. Games and hands-on activities became more and more part of the curriculum, and it has been so satisfying to observe and celebrate those “ah ha” math moments as children finally understand a concept.

Here are just a few things I learned at the conference: 
  • ·      Children learn better when it’s fun
  • ·      Children learn best when they experience some challenge along with a high rate of success
  • ·      The relationship between the child and the instructor affects the quality of learning
  • ·      The best math programs do not use the spiral approach, rather they limit content and concentrate in helping children deeply understand essential skills and fall in love with learning

How will this change my math class? Probably not a whole lot. We already have a lot of fun, use cooperative learning activities, real-life projects and lots of manipulatives. We already use one of the best math programs in the world, Singapore Math (which is one of the rare programs that does NOT use a spiral approach). Mostly, I will concentrate on what I am already doing right, but will also taking the time to make sure that development of essential math skills will be the focus of assessment, re-teaching, and additional practice time. There is no reason to rush children along and hope for the best. Each child has a journey, and my job is to help them travel their journey at their own pace - and to learn to love learning and to feel confident and competent in math.

1 comment:

Odie Langley said...

As I have said many times Susan, they are so blessed to have you as their teacher. Have an awesome week.