We have moved on to subtraction with renaming (2.NBT.7). I’ve been doing a lot of this work with students in small groups and it’s amazing to see students talking and thinking about making trades, or renaming numbers. In a small group full of dialogue, students physically traded one of the ten rods that makes up 60 for 10 unit so they can more easily subtract 13. We talked about the value of 60 at the start, during and after the trade. Students giggled about how I could still buy exactly 60 $1 ice cream cones- no more, no less; at every phase of the trade. They knew that whether 60 was composed of 6 ten rods (60+0) or 5 ten rods and 10 unit cubes (50+10), its value remained constant. We worked through a few more bare number problems that also required renaming to get more ones and I really emphasized how accurately our recording matched their physical manipulation of the base ten blocks as well as their thinking. Students recorded on white boards, just as I had… and I expected we were good to go! Not so fast. About 1/3 of my students were not able to demonstrate their learning with much independence… even with 60-13. Even if I talked about ice cream cones. These students seemed to rely heavily on the scaffolding that came from our discussion throughout the trading process. So, I decided they needed a trading center- a place where they could be successful and independent with the skills that this high level work demanded. Here are some of the recording sheets that are guiding their work. I needed them to build confidence and more deeply conceptualize the equality of the value of the numbers they were composing, both before and after renaming. They needed to deepen their understanding that values can be represented in multiple ways. After observing students’ success with this work in centers, I realized this center had potential value for all of my students. It provides an opportunity for students to focus on and practice their recording, outside of the context of the subtraction problem itself. Additionally, it is forcing some of my higher level students to build, revisiting a more concrete experience with numbers. This helps me prepare them to rename to get more tens, hundreds etc. They are finding the challenge numbers particularly fun to work with, and I appreciate the opportunity for students to grapple with these situations in isolation, as opposed to in the context of a subtraction problem. Having this more isolated experience, makes them more confident, and less distracted by the challenge in the midst of a problem.
For the last two years I have been welcomed into many classrooms as a coach, or as my favorite mentor Jan so accurately describes: a thought partner. When she used that language two years ago during our first New Teacher Center Mentor Academy, I had no idea just how connected I would feel to that phrase today. I have partnered with some incredible thinkers over these two years. Some of these thinkers have been my fellow coaches, the teachers I support and their administrators.
I am an educator, a dancer, an over-thinker, a dog lover, a writer and a pasta addict. This blog will be dedicated to education… mostly. Since I became involved in my school district’s initiatives around topics like co-teaching and standards based reporting, my wheels have been in a constant state of motion. Over the last five or six years I have poured my heart and soul into collaborative work with so many dedicated educators and district leaders. We have come so far and are so close to reaching our goals.
Last year I began the journey of a lifetime! I have spent the last academic year coaching beginning teachers and training with the New Teacher Center. I have been working with sixteen other coaches. They are brilliant, thoughtful, positive and driven. We share a common goal- to improve educational outcomes through induction. These coaches, along with our amazing trainers from NTC, and the beginning teachers I support- challenge me every day. We learn from each other and we think. We think critically, and are exhausted by it.
In this blog I will attempt to capture some of this thinking and learning. I hope to connect the great work I see and hear in classrooms all around our small state to the domains of our teacher evaluation system, which is based on Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching. I want to share these connections because I believe in the value of Danielson’s work. I saw connections everywhere I looked this year. When teasing out what teacher actions contributed to student learning- teachers always found components of the domains. I want everyone to have access to those same ‘aha!’ moments I have, and for everyone’s students to benefit. I hope you come back often to learn more about this year’s journey!