As the school year comes to an end, I’m finding lots of opportunities to review what the students have learned in math throughout the year. At the end of May, I tried this fraction pizza problem with my students. I was amazed by what they shared and how eager they were to work through a difficult problem.
This week, I decided to try a similar problem with the class, but with fewer obvious solutions. On Thursday, I gave my students this problem:
I put the Grade 1’s and 2’s in groups to solve the problem. Just like before, I explained that the students could use any tools in the classroom that they wanted to help them solve the problem. I also told the class that this was a difficult problem, and that it was okay to try something, see if it worked, and if needed, try again.
As the students were working, I went around with my flip cam and recorded the discussions. It was interesting to hear what they shared.
I love how the students were willing to make mistakes and try again. It was even interesting to see how some students took an answer that others might consider incorrect, and explained how it could work as well.
Watching the students work together in the classroom shows me that they are always thinking, they are always problem solving, and they are always learning. In the past, I was only concerned with students getting the right answer. As a result, I never gave enough time to listen to students as they worked through problems or encourage students to solve problems in multiple ways, showing them that there isn’t just one approach that works.
I need to take this opportunity to thank our wonderful math facilitator, Kelly McCrory, who helped me change my approach to teaching math. My students have learned more as a result. Now I can’t wait to apply what I’ve learned this year as I teach math to my Grade 6 students next year. Regardless of the grade that I’m teaching, I know that I will always give permission for my students to make mistakes and support them as they continue to learn and grow as mathematicians.
For the teachers out there, what changes have you made to your math program this year? What were the results? For the parents out there. how has this different approach to teaching math impacted on your child’s skill development and attitude towards math? I’d love to hear your thoughts.