- In general, my fourth graders do not have the number sense to really grasp the concepts in the new common core standards. This is not their fault, nor the fault of their teachers or parents. Many of my darlings had never even held a base ten block before the first week of 4th grade. It was not a part of the previous program, and most of the teachers didn't have those manipulatives. I'm playing catch up by trying to pre-teach, re-teach, and build number sense through games and yes, by putting the base-ten blocks in their hands. (The first few minutes after I passed them out, I just let them build things to become familiar with them). The chart shows the concept we worked on in lesson 1. They would build a number, then trade in flats for longs and count how many longs (tens) they had.
- I'm moving at a very slow pace through the lessons. While I realize there is a test looming in early May, I also don't want to rush through and leave my kiddos in the dark. Once we all learn how the new program works, and get used to the wording and format we'll be able to move more quickly. I really believe that the extra time I'm taking now to build number sense and learn how everything fits together will benefit us in the long run.
- We can't do everything at first. This seems like a no-brainer, but with a new program sometimes it is difficult to determine what you MUST include and what can wait until you and the kids are more comfortable. I have 70 minutes for math each day. So far, I'm including:
- fact practice daily (not part of the program, but a necessity).
- calendar routines almost daily (trying here, but its new and sometimes I forget).
- whole group lesson
- small groups and independent games and practice-not every day yet, but a few times.
- Collaborating with my coworkers has been super helpful! I'm blessed to be a part of a fabulous faculty, and have good friends at other schools in my system as well. We've had several planned and unplanned cross-grade level meetings to just discuss what's working or not working in our classrooms. It's such an eye-opener to see what the other teachers are doing, what their students are expected to learn, and how things build each year. Plus, its been a great bonding experience for our faculty!
I'm hoping to post very soon about some of the specific strategies I'm using and how I'm using math journals along with our new program. And if you're starting a new math program like me, you might want to check out Penny's post at Teach the Math. She has some really great advice!