Today I taught my second lesson plan. Again, I was given a chapter out of the teacher’s edition of the math book, so I basically knew exactly what materials I’d be teaching. But this time I had a little more freedom to plan it how I wanted to. The lesson was on estimating money.
I started out by telling them a true story of how, at Six Flags, there was a game where a lady would try to estimate your age by looking at you. If she guessed wrong, you’d get a prize. When the lady tried to estimate my age, she guessed way wrong, so I got a prize! I then gave the students the chance to estimate my age. First, I reminded them that estimating was not a wild guess… they’d have to make smart guesses and use the information they had. The students guessed anywhere from 16 to 90!
Next, I told the students that we could also estimate money. I had drawn pictures of several objects on the white board, and wrote prices next to them. I told the students to pretend they had a dollar, and wanted to buy at least two things from the garage sale, but they wouldn’t have time to add the prices up to get the exact totals. They’d have to estimate. I then gave them the chance to come up with combinations of items they wanted to buy. Then I’d add up the total, to find the exact amount, and see if they were correct. The students were all doing this really well, so I decided to make it a little more complicated and asked them to name three things they could buy! Most of them did really well at this, although I suspect some of them really were adding in their heads instead of estimating.
Finally, I closed by asking them to come up with other situations in which they might estimate. The kids came up with all sorts of answers, from guessing a dog’s age, to calculating the number of stars in the sky, to guessing how many candy corns were in a jar in order to win a prize. A few came up with answers such as, estimating how many states there were in the USA or how many days there were in a year. I asked those students if they knew the exact answers to those questions (they did) and I pointed out that this meant they were not really estimating. I think most of them had a good idea of what estimating was by the time we were done!
To tell you the truth, this lesson went so quickly, and I thought I was doing horribly! I couldn't wait for it to be over! I was actually a little relieved that my little friend Kristie was absent, since it cut down on the distractions. Still, I was shaking, and I thought Mrs. Jones was probably so disappointed in me. But at the end, she actually came up to me and told me I did wonderfully! In fact, she said that although she usually doesn't take student teachers, if I need a student placement she would love for me to come be her student teacher! (My school doesn't allow us to choose our own placements, plus I need to be in a special education placement... but still, it was flattering!) Its so weird how I can think I am doing terribly, and in real life I'm doing great.
At the end of class, the teacher and I were talking, and I mentioned that in our class we learn more about teaching using a problem solving approach. Mrs. Jones said that she liked that approach also, but the school now follows a Guided Math approach, which means that they start with a short, fifteen-minute “math message,” which is what I had just taught, followed by work stations that should be no longer than twenty minutes each. The rationale behind this is that the Internet and other media has changed the way people think, and that we now need to switch tasks every twenty minutes in order to stay engaged. I mentioned to Mrs. Jones that I felt like using this approach with young children was actually encouraging them to have short attention spans, instead of helping them learn to focus on something. Mrs. Jones agreed. I think a problem solving approach is a better way because you can focus on one topic (for instance, fractions) but also have several short activities (such as an introduction by the teacher, a problem-solving activity, sharing, and wrap up) so that students stay engaged. Math centers could also be incorporated, but I think more problem-solving activities and opportunities are needed.
If you're a teacher and you use Guided Math, I'd be very interested in hearing your thoughts on this! Whether you agree with me or not, I'd love to learn from you! Please leave me a comment.
Cutest moments in class..:
During Independent Reading time, I asked a little girl named Ainslie, one of the children in the class who has special needs, to read aloud to me. At first, she was reading a story about a girl and her father baking a cake... and she kept interrupting her own reading to explain to me that she bakes all the time, with her older sister. She'd be reading, "Then, stir in the eggs," and then she'd look up to frantically tell me, "But don't get any shells in the mix! Be very careful!" or "They're putting the pan in the oven, but I'm not allowed to touch the oven. An adult needs to do that." I jokingly asked her if the picture in the story was of her. She made sure to tell me it couldn't be her, because her family included four children and three adults... the adults being her mother, her father, and her sister who was thirteen. LOL! Next she read a book called Amazon Alphabet, which had a different rainforest animal for each letter. A lot of the animal names were hard even for me to pronounce, I did know what a kinkajou was, having seen one at the nature center last summer! I also knew that macaws, true to the picture in the book, do like fruit. Ainslie looked at me in amazement and said, "Whoa! You know so much!"
One little girl from another second grade class saw that my name badge had the name and logo of my university. She came up and told me, "My older sister goes to that university!"
"Really? I asked her. "What is your sister studying to be!"
The little girl proudly replied, "A business woman!"
One little boy kept interrupting me today to show me printed photos of his dog! (How did he know I adore dogs?)
I have really enjoyed being in Mrs. Jones's class. I think second grade just might be my grade! I'm not going to see them next week because my university has Thanksgiving break all week, and the week after that will be my last week in the class. I'm going to miss them a lot!