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September 2, 2009

Math, Kinesthetically Speaking.

By Victoria Jasztal

    In the photo- Three boys in my class complete Math Bingo together, which is like "Getting to Know You" Bingo, where students must get twelve classmates to respond to different problems on their papers and initial them.

    Despite how often we encounter math in our daily lives, the concepts we have to cover can be extremely difficult for our students to grasp. Even in my own classroom, encouraging students to explain how they solved a specific problem can be a tedious challenge, particularly with advanced students who are used to solving problems with very little thought.

    Recently the Title I schools in our district have made a transition to hands-on math instruction by adopting a portion of Scott Foresman Investigations. I have always considered myself a hands-on teacher, so at first I thought I would delve into the methods with very little difficulty. Considering I rarely grasped math concepts traditionally when I was in school and had to learn using kinesthetic methods, I thought it would come naturally. However, the planning has been an immense challenge.

    Journaling

    Our school has decided to try a journaling project called “Glue it and Do it” where students receive a problem on a strip of paper daily. They must glue the strip of paper in their journals (specifically designated for the project) and solve it using words, numbers, and pictures. Additionally, they must restate the information from the question at the start of their journal entry. Since most of the questions my students are answering now revolve around multiplication, they are encouraged to sketch clusters and arrays to explain how they came to their solution.

    I have been inspired by reading several articles written by the sensational Marilyn Burns, which can be viewed here.  Explained Burns in a 1995 article- “Their writing (in math) is a window into what they understand, how they approach ideas, what misconceptions they harbor, and how they feel about what they’re discovering.”

    Daily Data

    Classes can also try Daily Data. Basically, a question can be posed to your students every week, such as-

    ·         In which season were you born?

    ·         Do you prefer dogs or cats more, or do you like them equally?

    ·         Out of these choices, which is your favorite theme park?

    An area is designated in my classroom to display the data question for the week. Students can then complete activities over the course of the week relating to the question that has been asked.

    ·         Monday- Ask the question, and record the data. I printed pictures of my students on a piece of cardstock with a magnetic backing, so they can move themselves around on the whiteboard to respond.

    ·         Tuesday- In their journals, have the students put the data in some sort of graph- bar graph, circle/pie graph, t-chart, pictograph, or any other type of graph they find appropriate.

    ·         Wednesday- Have students write down observations, inferences, and variables for the data.

    ·         Thursday- Have students write down a word problem that goes along with the question.

    ·         Friday- Students will conclude the week by displaying the data in a different way from the way they displayed it on Tuesday.

    References

    As I feel more comfortable utilizing the workshop approach in math, I will post pictures of our journal entries, graphs, and partner explorations. For now, please visit my Delicious website to view my math links- http://delicious.com/Ms.Jasztal/Math. Additionally, I have math resources uploaded to my website that you can use- http://www.teachingvision.org/resources/math.html.

    In the photo- Three boys in my class complete Math Bingo together, which is like "Getting to Know You" Bingo, where students must get twelve classmates to respond to different problems on their papers and initial them.

    Despite how often we encounter math in our daily lives, the concepts we have to cover can be extremely difficult for our students to grasp. Even in my own classroom, encouraging students to explain how they solved a specific problem can be a tedious challenge, particularly with advanced students who are used to solving problems with very little thought.

    Recently the Title I schools in our district have made a transition to hands-on math instruction by adopting a portion of Scott Foresman Investigations. I have always considered myself a hands-on teacher, so at first I thought I would delve into the methods with very little difficulty. Considering I rarely grasped math concepts traditionally when I was in school and had to learn using kinesthetic methods, I thought it would come naturally. However, the planning has been an immense challenge.

    Journaling

    Our school has decided to try a journaling project called “Glue it and Do it” where students receive a problem on a strip of paper daily. They must glue the strip of paper in their journals (specifically designated for the project) and solve it using words, numbers, and pictures. Additionally, they must restate the information from the question at the start of their journal entry. Since most of the questions my students are answering now revolve around multiplication, they are encouraged to sketch clusters and arrays to explain how they came to their solution.

    I have been inspired by reading several articles written by the sensational Marilyn Burns, which can be viewed here.  Explained Burns in a 1995 article- “Their writing (in math) is a window into what they understand, how they approach ideas, what misconceptions they harbor, and how they feel about what they’re discovering.”

    Daily Data

    Classes can also try Daily Data. Basically, a question can be posed to your students every week, such as-

    ·         In which season were you born?

    ·         Do you prefer dogs or cats more, or do you like them equally?

    ·         Out of these choices, which is your favorite theme park?

    An area is designated in my classroom to display the data question for the week. Students can then complete activities over the course of the week relating to the question that has been asked.

    ·         Monday- Ask the question, and record the data. I printed pictures of my students on a piece of cardstock with a magnetic backing, so they can move themselves around on the whiteboard to respond.

    ·         Tuesday- In their journals, have the students put the data in some sort of graph- bar graph, circle/pie graph, t-chart, pictograph, or any other type of graph they find appropriate.

    ·         Wednesday- Have students write down observations, inferences, and variables for the data.

    ·         Thursday- Have students write down a word problem that goes along with the question.

    ·         Friday- Students will conclude the week by displaying the data in a different way from the way they displayed it on Tuesday.

    References

    As I feel more comfortable utilizing the workshop approach in math, I will post pictures of our journal entries, graphs, and partner explorations. For now, please visit my Delicious website to view my math links- http://delicious.com/Ms.Jasztal/Math. Additionally, I have math resources uploaded to my website that you can use- http://www.teachingvision.org/resources/math.html.

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