Sadly, the 8 week long book study of Teaching Numeracy has come to an end and, with it, we had our last live discussion with Margie Pearse. I can’t speak highly enough of Margie and the knowledge she has shared with the members of The Educator’s Book Club. Unfortunately, I have been informed that some members were not able to join the discussion, so I thought I would recap on some of the highlights of the discussion.
First and foremost, last night’s discussion was a follow up of June 28’s discussion when we discussed various forms of ignitions and bridges. You can find the free document (30 Great Ignitions and Bridges) here. She has some great, useful freebies up for grabs, as well. She has listed 30 awesome ignitions and bridges in her document, and here are three take-aways I took from the discussion.
- The ignition should not simply be a cute introduction. It needs to be engaging and promote critical thinking. The ignition gets the kids in the right state of mind to start thinking mathematically.
- The bridge makes the connection to the lesson being taught that day.
- You can double-front load the students before you begin a lesson by making the ignition and bridge, both, related to the lesson being taught. (Usually, the ignition can be used as a review of past content, etc.)
Now, on to last night’s discussion! I have truly loved hosting these discussions with Margie, because her excitement to teach math truly resonates when she begins to discuss the topic. Her excitement is very contagious, and I find myself pumped to start planning when we finish our discussions. Last night was no different. We recapped briefly on June 28’s discussion (recapped above) and continued with her document, Best Practice Lesson Format. This can also be found here or on The Educator’s Book Club on Facebook.
Since we had already discussed the bridges and ignition component of the lesson plan, we jumped straight into Gradual Release of Responsibility (GRR). Some of you may have heard this as I Do, We Do, You Do, except Margie goes into more detail as to how each “Do” should look in the classroom. Her explanations are also listed on the Best Practices format.
Margie really stressed the importance of quick checks with the kids. She said to go beyond thumbs up and down, and really teach the kids to try and assess their understanding. Here are a couple of great suggestions she gave.
- Get a paint strip for each kid. The lightest color represents clear understanding, and the darkest represents murky/unclear understanding. Then, there are the colors in between that represent anywhere in between. “I kind of understand, but am unsure about xyz, etc.”
- Mini white boards and markers: Give the kids a quick 3 minute problem to solve or question to answer.
- Use mini-composition notebooks to write their reflections.
- Use post-it notes: The star post-it note was the highlight of this discussion. Like many teachers, we all got really excited about having a black bulletin board with yellow star post-its. The kids could write their “shining moment” on their star. What did they solidly understand from a lesson, etc.
Once you “take the temperature” of the room, as Margie states it, you will know if you can continue to the next step of GRR. If you just finished We Do (You Notice), then “check the temperature” of the room. Did most of the kids understand? If not, maybe we need to return to I Do (You Notice) and model the lesson again. Personally, I love the yoyo effect of this lesson. The lesson plan is not linear and is truly created around the understanding of students.
If you are curious to learn a quick snippet about GRR, check out this video by Doug Fisher.
If you are interested in creating more dynamic and engaging math lessons that ignite mathematical thinking, you need to check out Margie’s book, Teaching Numeracy: 9 Critical Habits to Ignite Mathematical Thinking.