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Math Term III

Math Term III

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04/22/2013

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Math AnalysisThis math lesson was the very first lesson that I have ever taught. With that being said, my immediate reaction was that I thought it was somewhat of a trainwreck. I am grateful for this mathematical methods course because I think it forcesus to go beyond the procedural understanding that we have of math to the discoveryand understanding of conceptual knowledge. The logic is actually simple; if we cantruly understand the concepts behind the math we teach than we will be in a betterposition to construct this knowledge with our students. I chose a lesson on placevalue in order to try to get at one of the most central concepts of mathematicalknowledge.I began my lesson with a warm up comparing 31 and 13 in order to get at theplace of digits and why 31 is larger than 13. Then, we did an activity where eachstudent had to find their match; one with a number on their card, and one with apicture of a corresponding number of base 10 blocks. After the matches were madewe discussed each pairing as a group. Next, each student got a ones/tens/hundredschart as well as their own set of base 10 blocks and we worked on showing numberswith both mediums. Through this activity I sought to drive home the idea that theposition of a digit within
a number determines it’s value.
Norms and DiscourseMy vision for this lesson was for it to function as a number talk. I wanted thestudents to learn from what one another were saying so I wanted an informal,conversational tone in my lesson. Although I introduced this idea of a conversationand directed the students to think of the discussions that they have at the dinnertable where they do not have to raise their hands, the norms that they have receivedin their schooling thus far have set strict guidelines that are difficult to deconstruct in one lesson. I knew that I was trying something different than what my studentswere used to but I attempted encouraging talking with one another about theirthinking in order to allow for the struggle that the concept of place value oftenelicits.
I wanted the discourse to use the student’s voices to explain their thinking
and as the teacher I would be there to pose questions to guide my students as wellas direct them to speak to one another. Although my hope was that our discoursewould get at the underlying meanings of place value, it was clear that the studentswere happy with a correct answer (reflecting a classroom norm) and I had to pressthrough questioning to get out conceptual answers.Additionally, in thinking about the nature of discourse in my classroom, frommy observations, I have noticed that the way math is taught, in comparison toliteracy, it often completely teacher centered with dialogue between teacher andstudent and than from teacher to another student. My pedagogical focus was tofacilitate mathematical discussion where this normative teacher to student and back to teacher trajectory is reconfigured to encourage every student to participate andto listen and to talk to one another. My role within this lesson required me to try tocombat strong norms while fostering student exchange which proved difficult considering the content and I subsequently I believe my pedagogical focus took aback seat to my goal of conceptual understanding.

Another class norm that rose to the surface during my lesson is the practiceof only being called on or asked for an answer if you raise your hand. Not only wasit a foreign concept to not have to raise their hands to speak, but it was also a newexperience for two particularly shy students to be nudged into participating.Especially in math, my mentor wants correct answers and needs to move at a pacethat will accomplish all of his goals. Considering these motives, it is easy to see howshy or self-conscious children, are less likely to actively engage in math lessons and
learning. In her article “Looking at How Students Reason,” Ma
rilyn Burnsencourages teachers to ask for reasoning, to question correct answers, and to use
incorrect answers to better aid students in understanding their own and others’
thinking and strategies. I think that the setting of the rug and the close circlearrangement of my students was the best way to facilitate a seeing and hearing one
another and one another’s work.
VIDEO of looking at someones work
I also think Isuccessfully brought unique tactics and realized mistakes to the surface in order toshow students that all thinking and attempts at a problem are important in math.
VIDEO of Kevins alternative or Stephens mistake
Although the teacher-centered andhand-raising norms constrained my pedagogical focus of mathematical discussion Ido think that all 6 of my students were engaged and interested in what one anothershared about their thinking for most all of the lesson.Task and ToolsThe experience of this first lesson was really an amazing one. I thoughtfullyplanned out the tasks in my lesson to lead my students through a logical progressionof ideas. In the debrief after the lesson, both my Penn Mentor and Classroom
Mentor assured me that my lesson “was logical and well organized.”
Within eachtask (the warm-up, the card matching, and the representation of two and three-digit numbers) I used many and differing physical tools to try to support student thinkingand learning of place value. I used an easel white board that I pulled right up on therug and used that for my warm up and for scaffolding throughout the lesson. But from the beginn
ing, during my ‘hook
,
I realized that I would not be able to get through my plan. I was confident that only two of my students could explain why 31is larger than 13 and because I was planning for that concept to be somewhat of a
review, I think I adopted the approach of ‘get through as much as you can,’ rather
than narrowing the scope of my lesson and providing greater depth throughexamples. The next task served as a refresher of the bridge between a number and
it’s representation with Base 10 blocks. I accomplished this connection through a
matching game where the students each received a card and had to talk and showeach other their cards in order to find the correct match between number andpicture of Base 10 blocks.
This task proved successful both in it’s freeing power to
allow the students to talk to one another and work together to complete the task
and in it’s end goal to understand how
a number is represented with the blocks. Thestudents were very interested in this activity because it is rare that we have gamesor partner work as part of a lesson. However, as I discovered in the next task,although the students explained that they saw a 7 in the hundreds place and knewthat it corresponded with the 7 flats (100 blocks) the 7 meaning 700 was unclear.
VIDEO of matching game
Following this task, each student was given a

ones/tens/hundreds chart and a set of Base 10 blocks. I wrote the number 57 onthe board and the students had to write the number so each digit was in the correct column on the chart and then they had to show 57 with their blocks. Here, I wastrying to use a variety of tools to get at conceptual understanding of place andconsequent value within a two-digit number and eventually with a three-digit number, 140.