Part 1

So I decided my first in depth blog post will be on math, specifically,

teaching the Common Core standards with the Go Math series. I’ll be upfront: I am not a fan of the Go Math curriculum and

I don’t think I’ll ever be. That said, I

still have to use it in one way or another.

My district has provided professional development in math with inservice

days on Direct Instruction (think steps) and in Lesson Study (think teachers

collaborating about how to teach math).

I believe that both have valuable insights for thinking about teaching

the common core standards in math. So

these initial blog posts will be a record of my experimenting with new ideas,

paradigm shifts and the very frustrating Go Math series.

About 8 weeks in the new school

year, my class is now on Chapter 3 of the Go Math (Multiplication

Concepts). The first several weeks were

a struggle to use Go Math with addition and subtraction. Then we went on to Data and Graphing. A little better, but still a struggle. So that is when I decided that I needed to

change the way I’m teaching math. The Go Math series is no help. Direct Instruction helps some, but it can not

get students to think critically and EXPLAIN their thinking. So I fell back on what I learned in Lesson

Study. For those unfamiliar with lesson

study, it is a professional development model in which a group of teachers

collaborate to design a lesson. Then one from the group teaches the lesson

while the others watch and collect data on the students (not the teacher). Then there is a debrief with the group and a

discussion of the data collected. Now,

this is not useless data that we have to collect to share with district

administrators. This is data gathered by

observing student responses to the lesson: recording conversations, noting

strategies used, examining student written responses, etc. The insights gained from the data help

teachers reflect on why students responded how they did and what needs to

change for the next lesson.

The Lesson Study Approach comes to

us from the Japanese (Here’s an excellent in depth explanation: http://www.rbs.org/SiteData/docs/yoshidaoverview/aeafddf638d3bd67526570d5b4889ae0/yoshidaoverview.pdf). The most interesting aspect of Lesson Study I

learned was that the Japanese use an approach to teaching which is the complete

opposite of most American classrooms.

Instead of a gradual release of responsibility model that most of us are accustomed to using (I do, we do, you do) they use the following

approach: You do, You all do, We

do. What? You say! Yes, they make the students figure out a problem

on their own FIRST, then work with a partner and then the teacher does it

together. With that in mind, I am

completely teaching the Multiplication Concepts unit from the Go Math this

way. I may not be doing it exactly as

the Japanese model, but I have seen dramatic increases in student motivation,

involvement, persistence, and more critical thinking. Stay tuned for Part 2 as I show you the first

lesson I tried with this approach.

Loved reading about your math lessons. The Japanese approach sounds very backward, but I'm anxious to hear how it works for you. Debbiehttp://www.crockettsclassroom.com/search/label/card%20game

Yes, when it was explained to us that the Japanese taught math this way we were intrigued because it completely went against everything we have been trained to do. But I think the Japanese way has merit: force the kids to struggle to find solutions. The learning is in the struggle!