Reflection on this week's Lesson, and some other research and findings

Kia Ora!!

Happy Friday, it's been a busy week 5, gearing up for camp next week. I am looking forward to the weekend, and super excited about going on my first camp in my teaching career.

Firstly I want to reflect on this week's first DMIC lesson I tried out with my learners. Please read my previous blog post if you haven't already, this gives you an intro into this lesson, and the pedagogy behind the DIMC maths Bobbi Hunter is guiding us through, with the goal of implementing this in our classes this year. 

The question was: 

On the weekend Mr Goodwin, Miss Parrant and Miss Szymanik practised putting up a tent. They started at 10:15 a.m. They each took one 7 minute turn. 

How long did it take them to put up the tent?

If they started putting up the tent at 10:15 a.m, what time did they finish?

What did I consider when forming this question. 
  • Is it relevant to the learner's lives?  YES, we are all going to camp next week, a lot of the children being year 6, attended year 5 camp last year. The question involves people the children are familiar with. It is so important that the context of questions draw on relevant situations in the children's lives, where culture is considered.
My big question for inquiry: 
Would integrating the teaching of strand maths with number, help kids to better acquire key mathematical language, raising their achievement?

The area of number we are focussing on is MULTIPLICATION. Since the start of the year we have been focussing on the Measurement strand, looking at time. 

To refresh your mind, I split the learners into groups. These are mixed ability groups and not necessarily their friendship groups. When I spilt the groups I designated a recorder, who would write on the A3 paper I had given their group. I began by posing the question to the kids. I just read it out and them gave them 5 minutes to talk about it in their group. I didn't specify exactly what I wanted them to discuss. 

The first question I asked the learners was. What is the question ACTUALLY ASKING US TO DO? 

We discussed this as a class. It is a wordy question and this initially throws the children off, this happens a lot in PAT tests as well. They read this big long question and because there are so many words, and often words they don't understand, they give up on the question before even attempting to figure out the answer. We split the question up. We discussed how it was asking us to figure out things. I didn't record what we were saying, we just discussed as a whole class group. When I sent the learners off to record their answers and discussion, I reminded them that this was not a writing activity, I was not worried about their spelling and grammar, instead I was looking at their ideas, and wanting to hear discussions taking place in the group. 

The first thing I noticed off the bat was how even my learner's who are in my lower groups, and who the majority of the time when working with me are incredibly quiet, were all chatting in their groups. Were they not nervous to give the 'wrong' answer, were they more confident around their peers, did they not feel like they were in the 'low' group. I can't be sure, I do believe these are all factors but nonetheless I was pleased to see them contributing to the group discussion. 

The next question I asked the learners was, what is the CONTEXT of the question. The first thing I asked them was what the word context meant. There were some interesting answers, in short, no one had any idea what this meant. Whilst planning the lesson I actually looked up this word in the dictionary,  I was trying to think of how to explain it to the children and I was finding it quite tricky. It is funny how as adults we just know what things mean, as we use them a lot in our everyday lives, however when people and mostly in my life, my students, ask me what words mean I struggle to word definitions, I just 'know' what they mean. 

The online google dictionary defines context as 'the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood.'

What did I take from this? Basically nothing makes sense if you can't be clear about context.

Here are some pictures I took of the learner's group responses:

The third part of the session was to ask my learners HOW they figured out the question: 

There is lots of knowledge the kids need to work out this problem. They need to be able to read. If they can't read they can't even start. So, every time I sent the learners back to work on this problem I had a designated 'reader' read the question aloud to the group. Even if there are learners who can't recognise the words and follow along with them, the are being included in the group and this is important.

Mathematically they need know: their 5, 6 or 7 times tables, they need to be able to add on from the bigger number, they need a sound understanding time/ telling the time. 

There are several tricky facets of this question. 1, there are lots of numbers in the question, it is important that the children figure out what numbers they need to 'Zero' in on to help them answer the question. It is tricky because it talks about how each teacher took one 7 minute turn. To figure out how long it took they have to work out that the number 3 is significant, because there were 3 teachers that each took a turn. This number isn't recorded in the question which makes it tricky. The fact there are 2 questions, and that you can't answer question 2 without first figuring out question 1, also makes it tricky. 

Again we discussed this part a class. Please see below for the children's responses. 

The last part you can see is the actual recording of the answer. I wanted the children to see how the recording of this was actually a really small part of the learning journey to finding the answer, visually you can see how much work we had to do to GET to the answer, and that is what is important. it is not about getting the right answer, or saying the answer straight away. It is about being able to figure out that answer, and explaining how we did it. I really enjoyed doing this with my learners and I am actually really happy to be moving away from how I used to teach, 1. teach them the knowledge, 2. teach them the strategy, 3. get them working on lots of different problems instead of ONE challenging one. 


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