17 December 2014

Bowling in the Living Room

The older my daughter gets, the more I continue to be amazed at what she's capable of doing (and inspired by what my wife comes up to do with her) during home-school time.

On a random week-day this past September, my 4 year old tracked and generated her own color-coded data chart. This is especially profound for me today because I just got back my semester evals in AP Stats and a couple kids said that the times I sent them out to collect (and then use) their own data were some of the very best, most relevant lessons.

So, my wife could have picked up some colored balls or marbles and counted them in some repeated fashion that my daughter then notated on the chart she was given, but instead, they went bowling in the living room.

A simple toy bowling set we bought a couple of years ago, set up in the living room.

That face... LOL

Which pins did you knock down?

Counting the number of pins after all the trials, then drawing an illustration in her science notebook
This post probably isn't actually for teachers in an early ed or primary classroom. From all of my interactions observing my son's classroom and others in the district I teach, no one has to tell early ed and primary teachers that physical activity and tangible, concrete objects and experiences are critical to students' engagement in and memory of the content they are responsible for learning.

If you are an early ed/primary classroom teacher, let me just continue to encourage you in all of your work encouraging and promoting numerical literacy. Creating and interpreting charts to track, present, and understand data becomes more important year after year as companies increasingly use computers to track data on customer's preferences and habits, waste or excess in financial statements, student achievement on state tests (and how/why they are rising/falling), just to name a few.

If you're a part of my usual audience of middle school and high school teachers, my hope is that you'll take the same lesson I often take myself when I observe my daughter's learning - kids always start out eager to learn. They start out eager to take experiences from play and translate them into a different medium to make sense of what they just did. When everything is new, few things are "boring."

Here's my lesson from today, courtesy of Hey, Beth Baker:

  1. Involve your students in creating as often as possible.
  2. Take some time out of class to do something. 
  3. Keep pushing and seeking exactly what your students are capable of. If its something their passionate about, they'll probably surprise you.
  4. Use the normal or mundane things around you in a new way to surprise your students and bring them in.

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Thanks for sharing!