Please comment and share your ideas!
Planning for mathematics can seem like a daunting task, so I thought I would talk a bit about a few things I did as a classroom teacher. I began my planning by looking at the whole year and plugging in special times that happen every year around the same time e.g., Terry Fox, Remembrance Day, Advent, Christmas, Easter, Track & Field as well as some new things like the school play or the Olympics. I started like this because I wanted to look for the potential authentic math opportunities e.g., Terry Fox – collecting money, the walk (distances). At this point of my planning I was not concerned about covering strands, but my goal was to look for meaningful opportunities to either introduce concepts or revisit them. This helped me to see how I could cluster expectations within strands, across strands and across curriculum areas. For example, when doing structures in science, I would also plan to do 2 and 3- D shapes in math. Although I also planned units in math, I particularly looked for opportunities to connect data management and measurement concepts as closely as possible to students’ lives and experiences. For that reason if you came into my classroom later in September you would know a lot about the students just by reading the variety of graphs on the walls e.g., a birthday pictograph, a bus graph, how many boys and girls, number of letters in their names. I would make sure that the graphs contained all of the appropriate parts, but they were displayed in a variety of ways so that students did not think that all graphs had to look the same e.g., bar graph data can be displayed horizontally or vertically. You would also know by the Venn diagram which students had sisters only, brothers only, both or none. Early in the year I had students’ heights measured and then again over the course of the year. Time was as closely connected to the daily schedule and important “times” in the students’ day like recess, gym, lunch, home time etc. with many opportunities to compare digital and analogue clocks. The calendar was used in an authentic way to record special events and to see how many days it would be until “March break”, the school play, class field trip or someone’s birthday.
Recently, a new teacher asked me to meet with her to talk about her math program. It was evident from our discussion that she wanted her students to become confident problem solvers and right now some of them were not feeling that way. While I was waiting for our meeting to begin I had the opportunity to look around the classroom. I saw a very welcoming space with evidence of community building going on. What I also saw were several opportunities to build on what was already there and infuse math that is meaningful and engaging while focusing on important concepts and skills.
I would love to hear your ideas on how you authentically infuse math into the daily lives and space of the classroom.