A few years ago, I was sent this book to review for the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics journal, Teaching Mathematics in the Middle School. After reading and reviewing the book, I decided to try it as a read aloud to my advanced 6th grade math class. I made math activities to go along with each chapter. After rediscovering the book on Pinterest, I visited the author's website. There is an implementation guide that you can download! There is even one for math teachers and one for Language Arts teachers. Cross-curricular unit for math and language arts?! Exciting!
If you are an elementary teacher, the tool Desmos Activity Builder might be new to you. While I see most current activities for middle and high school, don't let this deter you from giving it a try! There are some interesting and powerful ways to leverage this digital activity builder for you classroom. I've started making a few activities myself!
I had an opportunity to teach on a 45-minute traditional class period schedule and a 90-minute block. Both models have their pros and cons. I think my own preference is block schedules because you have so much more time to dive into content. There are fewer transitions and it just seems calmer and more conducive to learning.
However, one major challenge is finding purposeful ways to fill that block. If you notice that you are doing one activity for a long period of time, it might be important to think about chunking. What I mean by chunking is thinking of you period in 15-20 minute chunks of time and planning activities within those chunks. I find it's difficult to keep students attention if something lasts longer than 20 minutes, so that was my maximum for any activity (except an assessment).
I developed the following sample block plans based on 85 minutes. So, if you have 60 minutes you can think about cutting out one of these pieces. If you teach 90 minutes, add 5 minutes to o…
Teaching is challenging and personal and important work. Every teacher I work with is doing their best, want to do their best, and do all of this with a kind teacher heart. I love teachers, in fact I still identify as a teacher myself. When people ask what I do, I say I'm a teacher. Because even if I'm a coach or a math coordinator, at the center of my work is teaching.
I was in the classroom for 12 years. I know the difficulties of having a diverse group of learners in one class. The range of understanding on any given topic can be overwhelming to navigate. Am I challenging everyone enough? Is this too challenging? Are kids bored? Are kids checked-out? Are they learning?
These are real questions and fears we all have. And sometimes, being in this work means we develop some short-cut ways of describing the complexity of what we see in front of us. It's normal and natural as humans to look for patterns in our experience and categorize things. If we didn't our brains wo…