Monday, July 1, 2013

Thoughts on Chapter 1

My biggest ah-has!

To be clear, some of these weren't necessarily "ah-has" as much of a reminder of things we tend to forget as we battle all of the forces pulling at us as we do our jobs.

  • The importance of sharing and reflection - I've talked about this with co-workers, and I know in my own practice that when I take the time to do this, I benefit both myself and my students.  Yet, despite "knowing", and even "believing" this, I find it easy to skip due to lack of time.  I am one of those guilty of allowing "learners to work right up to the bell"!  This was a good reminder that this is an important part of the learning process.
  • Work time - "The bulk of a minds-on math workshop is devoted to work time."  Even though I know that this is the way it should be, I often find it easier to "manage" my class if I have "control" over it and am the one doing the work and the students are "captivated" by watching me.  Yes, I'm hanging my head in shame right now, but I think we probably all have those classes that just have a difficult time staying on task when left to their own devices.  

What I'm already doing...

  • Community - I think my teaching partner and I do a really good job of building community in our classrooms.    One thing I hear frequently from parents is that their child (who may or may not have struggled in math) now finds math interesting and fun.  (Always a good thing to hear!)  For the most part, our grade-level as a whole does a good job with this and I think it really helps the students understand the benefits of belonging to a community of learners.

Next steps...

  • Creating more purposeful openings - Obviously these need to be planned....which is something easy for me to overlook, and why they aren't always as useful as they could be.  I find them difficult to plan because there are times during a class period when I think "I want to review this in tomorrow's opening".  Or, where I do want to spiral a skill previously taught and incorporate a more current topic.  Other times, the dynamics of classes vary and what works with one class doesn't work with another, or what one class needs isn't what another class needs.  (It's all so much more complicated than those outside education realize!)
  • Work time - I'm so guilty of "rescuing" students who I feel are struggling.  Instead of letting them struggle with the math, I'm too quick to jump in and help (or even worse, lead them to an answer).  I need to work on questions that will help without giving answers.  Once last year, I asked a question that I knew would be a little difficult but at the same time was not out of reach.  My students just wanted an answer.  They left class without one and were not happy when they left the room.  For my part, I felt a little guilty that we ended on that note, but I secretly smiled inside when one of those students came to me before class the next day with the answer!
Can't wait to see what goodies the rest of the book contains!

For the love of good teaching,



  1. Hi Melanie
    I completely agree with your ah hah moments. It's hard to give up control to let the kids dig deep. I too need to work on my openings. It's such an important part of the lesson, but it's easy to jump right in a get going instead of doing a good opening.

    Please link this blog post to my post. Make sure you copy the URL of this post (not just your blog) and then use the linky tool at the bottom of my Chapter 1 post, then others will see your linked post.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. @Sherrie, how weird...I added my link but it's not showing up. I tried to add it again but I get a message that it's already part of the group of links.

  3. Hopefully it will work for next Chapter.

  4. Work time is one of my issues also. I love Hoffer's statement that the ones doing the work are the ones doing the learning. If I think about my current classroom, that probably says that I'm doing the most learning rather than my students. The work time is one of the first things I want to tackle based on this chapter as well!


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