The Power of Yet
“On the path to discovering your shortcomings, don’t forget the YET.”
When I think about where my teaching falls in terms of Deep Learning, Digitally, I think I am on my way there. I am definitely not there yet. When I read the other posts from the COETAILers in this cohort, sometimes I feel like I could be doing so much more. But then I remind myself that I shouldn’t be comparing myself to someone else because we all have our own learning journeys and experiences that have led us to where we are.
Just because I am not where I want to be yet, doesn’t mean I won’t get there. I teach the concept of the “Power of Yet” to my students at the beginning of the year. I want them to know that it is okay not to be able to do things yet. We all have room to grow. We all have things we cannot do yet. This isn’t only true for students; it is true for all of us.
So when I was feeling like I am not yet where I want to be with Deep Learning, Digitally, I had to remind myself that this is okay. Then I took some more time to see where other people were in their learning journey and got some great ideas!
Inspiration from others
After reading Cindy’s post for Week 3, I got the idea to redesign an upcoming Math unit using some of her ideas. I am new to grade 4 this year as well as my teaching partner. We use the Everyday Math series. This year I feel like we are both just trying to figure out the curriculum and stay afloat. So far we haven’t done much to make the Math units tech-rich. We pretty much follow the textbook and use the resources that come with the series. I want to do more though! I know I have students who need to be challenged more than the textbook offers.
In an effort to work towards teaching with Deep Learning in mind, I created this Math Unit with lots of inspiration from Cindy’s week 3 blog post while keeping Michael Fullan’s description of Deep Learning Tasks in mind.
Deep learning tasks are energised by the notion of ‘learning leadership’, in which students are expected to become leaders of their own learning, able to define and pursue their own learning goals using the resources, tools, and connections that digital access enables.
-Michael Fullan (A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning )
Redesigning a math unit for Deep Learning, Digitally
I decided to re-think an upcoming Math unit on Multdigit Multiplication for this task. As I said before, Math is pretty much taught from the Everyday Math series. Students have Math Journals where they complete math worksheets, participate in Math games (that come with the series), and practice skills on IXl and Khan Academy. There really isn’t much deep learning happening yet.
Most of my students go to after-school math tutors or academies. Students perform very well on the MAP test from Math. Fifteen out of twenty-one of my students perform above average (blue) on the MAP Test. This means these students need to be challenged.
I’ve found a few ways to do this. I’ve added their individual scores to Khan Academy so they get more individualized plans and found some real-world math application problems on Yummy Math. However, I know I could be more effective in my approach to differentiating instruction for the students. For example, not all of my students need to be doing all of the Everyday Math Journal Worksheets; especially if they can show they know how to do those skills already. I’d rather give them more authentic choices in their learning experience.
Overview of Redesigned Math Unit
I designed my unit using a slide deck from Slidesgo that fit perfectly for Math. I used slides so that my students could access all of the standards, resources, and activities in one place. Then I started by looking at what standards were addressed in Unit 4 and the end of unit Math Assessment we use that fits with the Math series. After that, I thought about how I would go about teaching this unit.
I really like how Cindy explained that she front-loads the unit with mini-lessons that teach students the concepts and does an example with them. We use Math Notebooks so I will use those to build a resource with students that they can use throughout the unit. In the notebook, they will keep examples for each standard as a reference tool that will be provided to them in the first week of instruction.
Students will self-assess after each mini-lesson to determine if they are green: I can do this on my own and explain how to do this, yellow: I can do this on my own, or red: I can do this if I get help or look at an example. If time allows after the lessons, students can work on the optional activities that align with each standard (slides 16-18).
After the week of mini-lessons, students will work more independently to master the skills and demonstrate an understanding of the content standards or to challenge themselves using more inquiry-based type questions from Freckle. This will be done through a Multidigit Multiplication Placemat.
As students work through different problems, they will check in with me to see if they have shown their understanding or not. If not, they will continue to practice that standard through the day to day activities.
In addition to the Multidigit Multiplication Placemat problems, students will choose a mini-workshop to attend with me. I will offer these throughout the second week of the unit. The focus will be to support students who need help (based on their math homework) and to introduce the Math Challenge problems from Freckle for more advanced learners.
During week 2 of the unit, students will either be working to prove their understanding of the standards using the daily learning activities, placemat or challenging themselves using one of the Freckle real-world application problems.
When the unit ends, students will take a post-assessment. For now, I have the Everyday Math Assessment. However, I would also like to re-vamp this into something more authentic and meaningful. I haven’t gotten that far yet!
Although I realize this unit plan has room to grow, I think it is a good start in the right direction of getting students to learn deeply using technology. Many of the resources I provide for students wouldn’t be possible without technology. And although it is only one unit out of the 8 we teach in Math, it is a start. We all start somewhere and this is my beginning to transforming learning in my classroom. And that’s the power of yet!