Wow, it is almost four months since my last blog about ‘Exploring insights and Addressing Misconceptions’. We are nearing the end of the Champions of Maths Learning Journey but the beginning of a new pedagogy for maths! What a rollercoaster ride, but so rewarding. For my final blog I wanted to share my final lesson, which I was so very proud of and felt captured all that I have discovered and learned over the past year. But I also wanted to write a little about accountability. I feel that as teachers we can spend many hours at these “fandangle” amazing professional development sessions and come away all enthused, arriving back in the classroom ready to roll out something incredible. But we are not always able to follow through, becoming overwhelmed with how to get it under way and often find it easier to stay in our comfort zones. I want to address how I won’t let that happen to my experience with Champions of Maths.
My final lesson crept up on me a little quickly and I probably prepared the least for it, if truth be known. But I feel that I have come so far and must have felt very comfortable, as the night before not only did I sleep, which I have never done before, but I awoke feeling very relaxed about the lesson! For our final lesson, Shyam gave us a blank canvas to work from, , which I found a little daunting. However, two things struck me: I wanted to showcase as much evidence of what I have learnt as possible and make the lesson relevant to what I was teaching in the classroom at the time. In a nutshell, my lesson was on Problem Solving which incorporated division and some added reasoning.
My Lesson was Twenty Divided by Six
This problem solving task came from the NRICH website which I would encourage you to visit as it has heaps of ideas and they are all relevant to the Australian Curriculum. The guidelines were given to the students with very little explanation. The students were as always, divided randomly into groups of four via Class Dojo, which they are so good at doing now without any fuss. Each group had a vertical whiteboard for their workings and a pack of twenty cards. Calculators were not offered in the beginning. The goal of the lesson was to see if they were able to make a division calculation and to use a systematic effective approach to get to the answer of how much they needed in each pile. And also, to see if their approach was the only answer.
It was evident early on that the goal would change and that my original anticipated questioning would need to adapt. Which was great because not only did I recognise that, but I did it!! Whoop Whoop go me!! The goal in my head had changed to what steps were required to go through in order to get to the answer.
Kobe sorting the cards
Once I had changed that in my head the process became clearer. Some of the children were diving straight in and dividing 20 by 6. Which is what the title of the question suggested, and they looked no further, whereas others started to add all the digits together. It was also evident that too much time was being spent on trying to do the mental computations of adding all the numbers up and not getting anywhere. I stopped the class and gave them the options of calculators and introduced the idea that they needed to find a dividend by adding all the card numbers together. (I was even more chuffed when in a later discussion, one of students used the word dividend – hooray!)
A systematic approach
After regrouping the students and giving hints to help them, they seemed to get under way with the task. Some very systematically and some with a little trial and error. In the discussions after the task where I was able to use a variety of talk-moves to prise the information out of the children, two things became evident. Some had a step-by-step approach to get to an answer, while some were able to demonstrate how they got there, what they did and that there were many answers to this problem. As Shyam and I discussed in the feedback session, the icing on the cake would be to get some written evidence, either an exit ticket or journal writing, to get anevidence-based indicator as to who in the class actually grasped the step-by-step approach and what we were trying to achieve.
In the feedback I had with Shyam afterwards we discussed the reassigning of the goal and how neither of us had thought of this being the goal in our pre-class discussion. We also discussed how the lesson went and I do believe I saw a glimmer of delight and pride filtering through from Shyam as he realised that he had managed to coach and inspire a very tough candidate. Rather like that feeling in Term 4 when you are assessing your students for reporting and compare how far they have come from the beginning of the year and you realise that you have actually taught something!!!! I had finished on a high and I feel very honoured and thankful to have been part of such a journey, which leads me to my next section!!
I wanted to touch on this because I do not want all the hard work we have all put in to be set aside and not used. I thought by putting it into my blog it would hold all parties accountable and help make Champions of Maths continue in the future. I have split this part into three areas: my accountability and where I am going to take what I have learned, my school and how we can use what I and my colleagues at school have learned and Shyam and our future. I thought about doing this when in our last workshop we were asked to reflect, and I thought by sending this out into the world it would make us all stay accountable!!!!
For me I have a number of goals within my classroom. Primarily to incorporate problem solving in all areas of my maths curriculum though planning and assessment. Whatever topic or strand I am teaching … boom problem solving has to be incorporated into it. From here I want to plan and teach Reasoning as a topic as it is something that I feel is skipped over in the curriculum and needs to be addressed in its own right. I would also like to take on board the whole ethos that we have been taught. I want to take the Five Practices into all areas of teaching and make the discussion and talk-moves more fluid in all subjects. Make the teaching more about the children and not me. Finally, blogging. I love it and must incorporate it into my classroom. How very exciting to have such exciting options available for my students.
As for my school, it is so important while everything is fresh, to have a conversation early on in the new year, if not before the end of this term, to put a plan together with timelines as to how we can filter all these problem-solving skills through our school. To instil a whole school approach to problem solving and all that goes with it. This is a huge undertaking but if well organised and planned, then we can roll it out over the coming years.
Finally, Mr Drury, without your insight, knowledge and patience this would have been a very long process. As it is, it has been inspiring, rewarding and even fun!!! It would be really great if we could set some dates on the calendar for next year to catch up not only with you but also to see how all the other schools are doing. It would also be useful to work smarter and not harder and perhaps have a whole school approach rolling out and mentoring our colleagues in our schools.
I am really looking forward to sharing our journey with other teachers in the future and inspiring them to have a go. I would like to thank everyone in our Champions of Maths team as I think we have all brought something different to our workshops which has made them really enjoyable with inspiring discussions and some very fun times. I will miss our Thursday evening catch ups. Good Luck fellow Champions and let’s stay in touch!