common core · debrief · first grade · · math · reverse · share · teaching point

Teaching at the End

Hello again, friends!  I almost said good morning, but the clock on my trusty laptop says it’s 12:12pm, so I can guess that’s not the appropriate greeting anymore.  I’m hoping to get accomplish lots of pesky goals today so I don’t feel bad about going to the pool this afternoon.  I mean, it’s 80 degrees and 40% humidity right now.  That NEVER happens in the DC summer.  And while I am very happy about the beautiful break in the otherwise oppressive summer it definitely makes it hard to do anything indoors. So let’s get right down to it.

The biggest change, for me, with this inverted math model was teaching at the end.  When you do your launch at the beginning of the lesson you’re just priming their brains for the job they have that day.  You’re not really smacking them with any knowledge until the debrief at the end.  And what’s even harder is when they collectively don’t really get the idea on day #1 and you have to do the whole thing again the next day, or the day after that.

So as I mentioned earlier, at the beginning of your math block you’ll have a 5-7 minute launch (potentially longer if you’re teaching older kids) where you’re basically reading the task, making sure everyone understands what their job is for that day, and potentially brainstorming some strategies.  You are NOT modeling an example, a similar problem, or showing them how to get started.  That’s what they’re figuring out with their partner.  Then they’re spending all this time working and you debrief at the end.  During the time students are working you’re circulating the room, observing and conferring.  I generally won’t talk to my kids for the first 3 minutes or so of work time because it gives me a chance to see what they’re really thinking and it gives them time to get started, and it breaks most of them out of the habit of using me as a crutch to get started.  Ideally, as you’re circulating you’re going to find a kid or 2 or 3 who are solving this problem in either a) the way you envisioned, b) a really cool way that you weren’t thinking about but does work, or c) a rudimentary way that still works.  When you find a kid on target you want to ask them (or tell them) to share at the end.

Everyone runs their sharing differently, but during math mine basically works like this.  I would bring all the kids back to the carpet, and I will have the work of the kids who will share.  I’ll generally praise the class for their hard work, because, really, this is hard work for kids who are only 6 or 7 years old.  Then I tell them that I want to show them what Mathematician X did that day.  I’ll put that student’s work up on the document camera and then I kind of take a step back and let that kid tell everyone else what he did.  I’ll ask a few questions, but basically it’s the kid’s show at the point.  They get probably 1-2 minutes.  Then, I’m either going to bring up another kid who solved the problem correctly, but differently OR I’m going to jump in to wrap up.  My wrap up is really when I’m hammering that teaching home.  It’s a mind-blowing light bulb time for them sometimes and it’s so exciting to see their little math brains growing.  Basically, my wrap up is going to be a summary where I’m going to recap the work we saw and I’m going to leave them with a teaching point for future math work, sort of like the Lucy Calkins’ writers workshop idea; something like “Today and everyday mathematicians, when you see a two digit number you’ll know that that number is made up of tens and ones”.  And then we’re going to move on to something else in our day.

However, we all know that sometimes our first graders aren’t exactly hitting the nail right on the head, and if that’s the case then I’ll just lead the share at the end.  I’ll grab a blank sheet and model (quickly) how I would have done this problem, and model how I would think through the problem out loud.  Then, I’ll finish with the same teaching point.  Again, the share, just like the launch is under 10 minutes.  5-7 is your best bet, because they were just working for so long.

It’s so great when all these pieces come together and you have this full inverted workshop running in your classroom.  I really feel like students have a much deeper understanding of their math learning.


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