Author Archives: Beverly Ford
I started teaching because I love to learn and I wanted to make a difference in my students’ lives. I quickly learned that what a child was learning could be academic, social, or simply personal growth. Learning is complex. Teaching is complex. As a teacher I was making so many decisions everyday. When I taught math in 1st grade last fall, I experienced the complexities once again. I had students with very different needs, both mathematically and socially. I wanted to meet all my students needs, but also felt overwhelmed with the variety I had to deal with in the classroom. Today I want to compare how I addressed those needs before and after I understood student adaptive pedagogy. I would also like to talk about some of the tools I used to help me make the decisions that allowed me to create the space for students to learn.
As a teacher and a coach, I grew in my knowledge of different ways to present math concepts. I will never forget teaching lattice multiplication to my fourth graders. This method allowed my weakest student to be able to multiply 4,327 X 3,582. He was so proud of himself. I loved those moments when I saw my students feeling empowered. I worked hard to understand different ways to present concepts because I knew that not all my students might understand the same methods. I gave assessments that I created which allowed them to use these different methods. Some students still struggled, but I didn’t have any other tools to support them. Now I realize I was just training them with different methods, when the problem was that they lacked conceptual development. They had not made sense of the math.
Last fall, I used the structure of how I taught guided reading in math. First I interviewed the students individually. These interviews gave me insight as to how they thought about various mathematical tasks. From those interviews, I chose math learning goals based on the math they had learned or could potentially learn (their math sweet spot) and placed them in flexible small groups. Another of the new tools I have is the ability to recognize what mathematical activity might be near a student’s sweet spot. Common Core has written progressions based on the math concepts of adults, but I used a progression based on how students learn number, addition, and subtraction. This allowed me to match my students to students described in the research and use those examples to make decisions about the best next steps for each. Having a student adaptive pedagogy allowed me to recognize my students’ mathematics and choose activities in their sweet spot. I was able to meet my students diverse needs by engaging with my students using small group instruction.
In my next blog post, I will give some examples of small group activities done with my students that address different aspects of the research.
In my last blog post I talked about how reading the research on student adaptive pedagogy has given me a new lens in which to facilitate productive struggle with students. It has been so exciting to see the great effort that students will naturally put forth when a math task is in their zone of… Continue Reading
When I first heard the words “productive struggle,” I imagined the many times I have watched students struggle to learn a math concept. My heart has always been sensitive to the children that would have to work to learn an idea. Growing up, I had cousin to whom learning appeared to come very easily. I… Continue Reading
This week is my last in working in a first grade classroom every day. It is hard to say goodbye to the students. I have watched them grow so much in their math knowledge during our time together. I am more convinced than ever that the research we have read and come to know at… Continue Reading
Today I want to reflect a little about my struggles with grades, students’ conceptual understanding, and students’ disposition towards math. In my last post, I talked about how I used a bulletin board with an ocean scene and fish number stories to engage my students in meaningful experiences around addition. Students were connecting the addition… Continue Reading
Our learning begins as children when we start to make sense of our world. When we count objects in our world and identify how many of something there are we are actually working on understanding number. Learning about addition is no different. It needs to start in a child’s world. So, in my 1st grade… Continue Reading
My great adventure in the classroom has been going on a little over a week. I have absolutely loved doing math with 1st graders. In my last blog, I wrote about how important reflection is in learning, and how I would need to prioritize time for reflection. Teaching has reminded me of the amazing amount… Continue Reading
One of the best experiences as a teacher for me is when you see a child have an “ah-ha” moment. The look on their face, their body language, their emotion. These moments bring me so much joy. I have seen so many of these moments working with 1st graders over the last few years. I… Continue Reading
Today I want to write about how the mathematics of students helps me to see my role as a teacher and learning a bit differently. In my last few posts, I have been telling you the story of Grace. Today, I wanted to share Grace’s story because it is an example of a time where… Continue Reading
One of my favorite questions to ask a toddler is, “How old are you?” They will often proudly hold up two, three, or four fingers. Most of the time these fingers come up all at once. This is their first experience connecting a number word and their fingers and can be a foundation to building… Continue Reading