This year, I am teaching a grade 2/3 split. I have had some of these munchkins since Kindergarten (with a year mat leave in-between). Needless to say, we didn't need much time to go over procedures and classroom norms because I have had many of these children for 3 years. I am team teaching math with 2 other teachers, so for math I teach all of the second graders.
My school board uses the math program, "Math Makes Sense" and for the most part I really like the program except for all of the worksheets to photocopy. Now, if you know me at all, I try to use the iPads A LOT during math. Why photocopy a worksheet when you can use manipulatives and the camera on the iPad? Not to mention the ability to annotate and capture students talking about their thinking.
So, I took the first unit of the year which was sorting and patterning, looked at the overall expectations and tweaked the lessons to incorporate the iPads. Here is what we did:
Learning Goal - to be able to create a pattern and explain the core
To introduce patterning, I first showed the pattern video on brainpopjr.com. I then modeled different patterns and we talked about what the core or unit was. I then invited the children to use any type of manipulatives they wanted to create a pattern. Students were instructed to take a picture of their pattern then use an app to draw a circle around the core of the pattern and upload it to their blog. Here are a couple of examples:
The second learning goal was to be able represent a pattern in different ways. After the lesson. I again instructed the students to get out the iPads, manipulatives, paper, markers and whatever else they wanted that would help them to answer the problem prompt.
Create a pattern using three colours of snap cubes. Find another way you can represent your pattern.
The final learning goal for this unit was to Use "look for a pattern" to solve a problem. After the mini lesson (different problem solving strategies and how to make a plan to solve a problem), I put children into groups of three and gave them the problem prompt.
There are 9 red beads, 3 green beads, and 6 blue beads. Make a pattern using all the beads.
I had students use any type of manipulative they wanted and they got right to work. Some drew pictures but most got manipulatives. I was pleasantly surprised how many groups got it without much prompting. I did have one group that I worked through the problem with. The following day we did a similar problem with different amounts of beads and only one munchkin was still having trouble.
I did not use one single photocopy or worksheet for this unit. My students choose how to demonstrate their learning and I have evidence of all of their work on their blogs for assessment. Best of all, all of my students were successful with this unit.
Is it because I gave them choice?
Is it because they weren't sitting at their seats doing worksheet after worksheet?
Is it because I am able to give small group instruction while the other children are busy showing their learning on the iPads or any other way they choose?
I think the answer is yes to all of the above questions. I still covered the curriculum, I still delivered math mini lessons and I still have a group of students that are excited when I say that it is math time!