Friday, October 7, 2011

Admitting you just aren't getting through....

This week, I struggled through teaching the concept of growing patterns.  I turned to my favorite math book (Kathy Richardson) for help.  On day 1, I modeled how a pattern can either repeat (which was beat into their brains until they cried- not really!) or it can grow and change.  I modeled a pattern and asked what they noticed was happening.  (insert crickets soundtrack here)  I'm not exaggerating.  Total blank looks staring at me.  I went back to looking at the pattern unit- Remember this from last year?  (more crickets)  Nada!  I owned it and simply said, "I think we will come back to this tomorrow and talk about pattern units."  No arguments, more crickets.  

***On a side note, there really are cricket sounds coming from the classroom next door- the nature girl has them in her room along with a tarantula (whom I have no plans to make nice with any time soon!).  

The next day, a fabulous guest teacher retaught the pattern unit concept.  When I returned, I came prepared with some models of growing patterns on construction paper (borrowed from Richardson's book).  I asked them again, "What changed each time?"  

Before the crickets could even begin, a sweet little hand popped up.  I had to do a double -take, because she was looking a her shoe the whole time I was talking.  Do I dare call on her?   I waited.  It was painful.  I called on her against all instinct..... by golly- she knew the answer.  The crickets began squeaking the Hallelujah Chorus!  Another hand went up on my next example, then more each time.  In the bliss of the moment, I paired them up to practice either recreating my examples or create their own. 

This activity is now in my Math Stations area for additional practice.  Following this lesson (and more practice the following day), we moved on to identifying and extending the growing pattern on paper.

One of the most important things I've learned over the year it to cut your losses and regroup- to seek out experts with a different way of thinking than you and give it a try.  I'm not naturally a "math person", but I try to find the best people to seek inspiration from when I'm in doubt.                                                                                                        

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Clutter-Free Classroom

1 comment:

  1. I feel your pain! Growing patterns...never even heard of them until they got added into our curriculum! :)