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  • Karen Bigham

    March 1, 2020 at 11:52 am

    Currently in module 4, and here’s where most of my questions begin to bubble. Most questions I have are answered in the following lesson (or 2), but I’ve begun to identify my own mathematical gaps… (warning, this will be a dumping ground at the moment).

    Originally I thought that a concrete model had to be a manipulative, but now I wonder if it could just be a picture or video or a table. For example, I’m going to be teaching scientific notation and I want it to be more concrete (I usually start with a pattern approach for 8th grade). HOW can I make it more concrete? I was thinking about money BUT I’m not into handing money out to the kids….that’s not the best idea. So, can I use a picture of money and then show it as groups of 10 (like x10)?

    I think being taught more abstractly (in my own education) has made it difficult for me to work backwards to the concrete (at least on my own for certain topics). I seriously doubt most teachers in my district use algebra tiles….but I understand that concrete idea. For things like properties of exponents, I have no idea what a concrete model would look like. I google it with the word visual(s) and I only get example problems. Where do I go for help on specific topics?

    As for my own progress, I’m changing a little bit every day. I’m catching up on the podcasts (I listen to them when I walk my dog ~ currently on episode 41), and they have been SUPER helpful. When the VNPS idea was brought up and it was mentioned to wait until the beginning of the year to make it a class norm….I thought that was brilliant. When another mentioned to make your changes a little at a time, I felt reassured. My kids can’t handle major changes SO I’ve been implementing small ones. I’ve been using stand & talks, notice & wonder, and have been changing the way I ask questions. Lately, I’ve felt like a sponge and I can’t get enough. I am so thankful for the workshop AND the podcast…..I can see myself listening to every podcast episode again once I get caught up. They’re like daily affirmations.

    As for planning my lessons, this is my biggest hurdle/area of need/point of acceptance where I need help to change. The hero’s journey is super helpful AND I’ve used 3-act tasks before (the throw it at them and see what sticks method), but it’s the concrete to visuall that is my biggest (personal) gap. Is there a book or a website that can give me more examples? The other portion of this issue is my PLC (the other 8th grade math teachers). They are not on this journey with me and so I may have to go it alone. Their current mindset is: we map things out together and then try to “get it all in” before the end of the year. They are flexible in that if I take more time in a unit, they are not upset or irritated….it’s just that I won’t be able to teach it all (more like it’s MY problem). I can go rogue (there’s no resistance to it)….it’s just that I have to accept I’ll be on my own. I’m at an 85% acceptance level….and it increases slighty every day. I’m almost there.

    Well…there you have it. These are my current thoughts.