Monday, August 27, 2012

Dr. Math!

As we mentioned in our previous post, several educators from Austin Elementary participated in multiple professional learning events over the summer.
A few teachers that went to Confratute at the University of Connecticut in July chose to attend a strand of sessions with Dr. Rachel McAnallan (a.k.a. Dr. Math).  Below is a reflection from May Voltz (3rd grade) on her experience with Dr. Math!

(Dr. Math & The Austin Crew)

Engaging!! Inspiring!! Tactile Learning!!! What do these words have in common?  Dr. Rachel McAnallan, aka Dr. Math.

        This summer we had the privilege of attending Confratute 2012 at the University of Connecticut. Along with many other educators, we chose to attend the math strands taught by Dr. McAnallan. Our three classes were Fun and Friendly Algebra; Absolutely No Train Problems, Math for Those Who Think They Can’t Do Math, and Geometry Beyond the Textbook.

        In Fun and Friendly Algebra, we worked with place value using not only Base 10, but other bases as well. Dr. McAnallan says it is not place value, but rather positional power. She emphasized the importance of incorporating stories to help students demystify the concepts of algebra. This allows us to introduce algebraic concepts at an early age and in a natural situation. She modeled great teaching methods while asking us, “Where did I lose you?” instead of saying “What don’t you understand?”  She also shared many ways for teachers to differentiate student work while all working on the same concept. Students become number detectives and problem solvers.

        In Math For Those Who Think They Can’t Do Math, teachers were exposed to the importance of using the correct math terminology while teaching the many different concepts of math. While covering addition, subtraction, multiplication and division she emphasized the importance of understanding that there are infinite ways to come to the answer. She stressed the importance of understanding the continuum of concrete to abstract while knowing that the elementary foundations paves the way to algebraic thinking.

        In Geometry Beyond the Textbook, we built 3 dimensional solids using origami. Vocabulary was stressed while folding the paper, such as, “How many rectangles can you count?”, “What is the shape called now?” Even though the process was frustrating at times, when our paper wouldn’t fold the way we needed it to, we were reminded of the importance of perseverance and how we model this with students.

        How will our classrooms be impacted because of our new learning? Her model of teaching and the experiences we had will really help us bring the philosophy of Schoolwide Enrichment into all of our lessons. This isn’t something we do on Friday mornings, rather it is infused in all of our lessons.

        Humor + engagement + high expectations = Math Success For All!!

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