Beyond Numbers

A reflection for A Slice of Life Story Challenge: Day 3.

There are a lot of talk about numeracy in the classroom for the past few years now. Do we get away from the worksheets? Do we get away from asking our students to memorize the multiplication facts? How effective is the Mad Minute practice?

I am a product of these old school of learning and mastering math. Probably, most of us are. If I think about it now, there’s not much access to technology during those times. Maybe, that’s why. Most lessons depended on textbooks and workbooks. Not even worksheets.

Slowly, I am veering towards that direction of number talk, asking students the proper questions that would lead to deeper thinking and understanding, providing more real life word problems in order for them to make connections, focusing on the process rather than getting the correct answer. Instead of giving the students worksheets that would give the same answers to all 20+ of them, games are doing the trick to master the basics.

Not knowing that they are trying to master some facts, they are into it. As I see it happening more, what really is clicking to me beyond numbers during these types of activities is human interaction. This is like hitting two birds with one stone.

With technology within their reach, they can do things without face-to-face interaction with their peers but with these exercises, one requirement is to be there physically. Through board games, dice, playing cards, dominoes, to name a few, they are also learning how to play fair, accept defeat but value the fun, cooperate, be honest and inclusive, and resolve problems on their own. They are learning how to interact with humans who have emotions that can get hurt, who know how to appreciate and who are capable to care for each other.

All the academics that we are trying to teach, at the end of them all, we would like these young citizens to grow as responsible and caring people of our society. That they do not just sympathize but empathize.

Any new skill that requires the mind can be learned at any point in time. What the heart requires should start while its young.

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11 thoughts on “Beyond Numbers

  1. Christine

    Thank you for your thoughtful post. I enjoyed thinking about the changes you describes and about the need for human interaction. You are so right that technology can pull us away from that much needed time to be together. We have to build social time into our much crowded day. So very important!

    Reply
    1. Vilma Manahan Post author

      We can get lost in front of our devices and lost track of time that we ignore people around us. I am a tech-savvy and can be like that at times. There’s not much of a difference with kids. Imagine how much time they spend at home doing the same. When they are at school, it’s a great opportunity for them to interact and learn from each other. Let them realize the most important need of a human being: another human being!

      Reply
    1. Vilma Manahan Post author

      The more I watch them interact with peers, the more I see the importance of making them experience it in different ways. Winning and losing is part of our existence. How to handle the degree of each event is what we need to learn. Even I myself at times, fall into the trap of getting stuck because of some circumstances in life.

      Reply
  2. Carol T

    I teach math exclusively. I have wanted to incorporate “games” into my day. The added benefit of student interaction may be just the just the thing to get me to run to Target and buy some

    Reply
    1. Vilma Manahan Post author

      I am a slow learner when it comes to adapting new ways but the more I see it, the more I realize the benefit of using it as a tool in the learning process not knowing that it will also serve as a bridge to teach character education.

      Reply
  3. cricketsnbunnies

    Wow! I love this:
    All the academics that we are trying to teach, at the end of them all, we would like these young citizens to grow as responsible and caring people of our society. That they do not just sympathize but empathize.

    Any new skill that requires the mind can be learned at any point in time. What the heart requires should start while its young.

    I have been having this conversation with some of my colleagues! I have reading up on Number Sense, deeper thinking and understanding. I have seen a huge change in my students as the style of my teaching has grown and changed, for the better I hope. Number Sense Routines: Building Numerical Literacy Every Day in Grades K-3 is a great book I refer back to off and on. I got started a few years ago after reading Carol Dweck’s Mindset, and this led me to reading about how we approach math. Another possible good read is Mathematical Mindsets: Unleashing Students’ Potential through Creative Math, Inspiring Messages and Innovative Teaching 1st Edition by Jo Boaler (Author), Carol Dweck (Foreword). The review are great, too.It’s so exciting to talk with people on the same journey. I’m so glad I read yours today! Thank you!

    Reply
  4. Jonathan So

    Lover your journey that you are on. You hit the nail on the head, it’s not that facts are not needed cause we know that they are. In fact they are an integral part of the math process. But it’s what we need to do with them that is the key. Number talks, games and overall problem solving really help do both. It gives context to kids thinking and something they can hang their hats on.

    Good work

    Reply
    1. Vilma Manahan Post author

      This is what I’ve been seeing in your classroom and now, I can see that what they learn during their stay with you will be essential skills that they will use wherever they go!

      Reply
  5. Pingback: A 10-Day Reflection | An (Almost) Connected Educator

  6. Veronica

    Yes, they are young citizens.. and we’re the first bastion of deeper thinking, since we have them for so many hours of their day.

    Thank you for sharing, I loved thinking about this!

    Reply

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