Teacher training makes me so happy! I think it is so much fun to see the teachers really get it. Last year I taught our first teacher Veronika about using number lines and teaching kids to start from the biggest number and count up and she understood, but had not necessarily seen why that was better than their traditional ways. Traditionally, the kids will see a problem such as 5 + 3= and first count 5 bottle caps and then count 3 bottle caps and then count all of them to arrive at 8.
We are working on getting the kids to start at the bigger number (5) and just count out 3 bottle caps and add on 6, 7, 8 to arrive at the answer or to use the number line and start at the 5 and jump up 3 places to get 8.
Today, we went over these techniques again. When she worked with individual children, she showed them this new way and told them she wanted them to try this new way to find the answer faster. They didn’t understand at first, but she stuck with it and worked through their confusion. I know that it will take awhile for them to adapt, but it was fascinating to see how they realized that it could save the children time and work towards the automaticity of their basic facts. When a different teacher was working with a child and reverted back to the traditional way, Veronika encouraged her to focus on the new way and offer him more than one way to find the answer.
Because they teach small groups of children, we have instituted a “morning meeting” or a whole group instruction time at the beginning before the students do their individual work in their notebooks. We made a calendar and the teachers are doing calendar and counting and days, month, year activities at the beginning of every group. On literacy days, they are reading stories and working on word building and on math days, like today, they count the number of students, desks, and windows in the room and identify shapes and colors from cards and around the classroom.
The students also really enjoy these new activities and are so much more animated and excited to do calendar or stories or counting their classmates. It was really fun and gratifying.