Wednesday, August 12, 2009

benchmarks,standards, What do I have to teach?

Yesterday, I spent a couple of ours with a good friend. We all know a good friend is someone who listens. This attribute is always something I appreciate when I visit with her. I also appreciate these other things about her; her willingness to help others in understanding Math Standards for the State of Ohio, her willingness to check my thinking as I align standards to benchmarks, and her knowledge about children and their mathematical learning. I am blessed to have her willing to still talk about these things since she is a retired math district coordinator who does her own consulting and a little bit of work for our state's department of education.

While I've worked through moving classrooms back in June and reorganizing life. I'm putting the finishing touches on my new environment and beginning to think about reorganizing my classroom library when I realized kdg. orientation is around the corner and besides seeing our classroom I have to have a grasp on the new curriculum I will be teaching.

To do that, I looked at the math Benchmarks for K-2 and then matched Content Standards to each one. I find math to be very concrete and the easiest content to begin looking at and working with for this type of work. I found several benchmarks do not have content standards in kdg. Therefore, I set those off in a pile I don't need to think about. The Benchmarks help us see the bigger picture, how standards work together, as blocks building and connecting our student's learning. These are some thoughts I had from this experience.

-Life will be very different mathematically from third grade.
-Building number sense is a big goal this year and such an important foundation to lay.
-Maybe we need to start an movement for "early mathematics" as we have for "early literacy"
-Several standards can be done and connect to other standards while working on one activity.
-I think there will be more connections
-I think the notion of math units won't be so defined and things will be mixed more
-Assessments are going to be shorter, hands on, observations
-Our community of learners should learn the standards and excel beyond

My friend offered guidance but no decision making. She really let me think about my teaching and integration of content as I did 13 years ago when I had her son for first and second grade. I'm going to begin with a unit in math I'll call, Objects Around Us. This will incorporate exploration of materials and kidwatching to see what the children know and can do. It will then move to more talk about sorting and classifying and while doing that we could use 3D blocks to sort which then touches on geometry standards. I think patterning will follow because I could see shapes being used to develop and finish patterning concepts. While all of these things blend and follow each other we will be counting and working on number sense activities. We brainstormed how my calendar could look and starting with the basics and adding one additional thing as we added it to our knowledge base each month. The calendar doesn't need to be overwhelming at first. I think my own next step so mathematics isn't overwhelming, is to create I can statements to use and help involve my students in their own learning. I find I Can statements help my own understanding and are a great tool for communicating with parents.

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