Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Problem Solving strategies

I should be working on report cards right now but I'm choosing to blog instead. I'm sure I'll pay for it later. There is so much going on right now. Report cards go out on Monday and I have conferences on Thursday and today I was out at a math training. I was not looking forward to going to the training because I have so much to get done and I had heard from a 4th grade teacher it wasn't great. But I'm so glad I went. It was really good. Susan O'Connell was the presenter. I didn't know anything about her but she has a book called Introduction to Problem Solving that we got a copy of. She offered a lot of strategies and practical ideas that I can take back to the classroom and use. That's my favorite kind of workshop. The biggest thing I took from her presentation was a method for teaching math. You pose a problem. Have the students think and talk with a partner then bring it back to the group. As you discuss the problem the key is in your questioning. These are good teaching strategies that I know. It helps to hear it again and see it in action.
She used some good literature to give context to the problems that you have the students explore. One of the suggestions was using the book If you give a Mouse a Cookie and have the students explore chocolate chips in a cookie. She posed a problem, then we explored some, came back together and created a chart, then offered some games to play to practice fluency. I loved this idea of tying in problem solving with literature. The wheels in my head are turning on how I can use this in the classroom with books that we're reading in class.
I'm still processing all that I learned but it has me questioning some things about my teaching. We adopted a new math textbook this year and there are lot of people complaining about it. We have so many new things going on: common core, new teacher evaluation and then this textbook. I try not to get tied up in a textbook. I try to use it as general guide and then go from there. Now that I've got these new problem solving ideas and strategies to think about, I think I'm going to find myself moving further from the textbook. I've already been thinking of tweaking things I have been doing with reading. I would like to incorporate some daily 5 but the only way to do that is to cut something out. My time is so limited in the class. I don't know much about daily 5 but I'm hoping to explore some over Christmas break. It will probably mean changing the literacy centers I've been working on. I try to be fluid and change what needs to be changed depending on my student's needs. The literacy centers are wearing me out a bit. I'll think that my kids are getting into a routine and we're making improvements and then they seem to forget everything they know. Maybe I just need to simplfy things and the Daily 5 seems to lend itself to that. Of course all I know of daily 5 is seeing other bloggers.
I have some questions for my blogging friends:
Do you deviate from your prescribed textbook or do you stick to it?
What's the best resource on Daily 5?
How do you balance it all? I would love to seem people's schedules if you're willing to share. I want my classroom to be a place where kids are exploring as they are learning. I want learning to be fun and meaningful.

1 comment:

  1. We don't have to follow our textbook (Investigations) luckily. We use small groups with math tub activities to teach most concepts. I try to use a read aloud each day to start math, too, and I include some of the cute seasonal internet activities in some of the tubs (today one group got to do roll a turkey!). I let my kids choose where to work each day but they eventually get to all the activities.
    I love Daily Five! I change the Word work activity but everything else stays the same. I have a little info on my website if you want a quick overview (the book is great and easy to read). We only get two or three rounds done each day. You could do just one round if that is all your have time for. Seriously, it is the best.