So of course with school closures and social distancing all face-to-face professional learning opportunities have been canceled, most likely for the remainder of the school year. I’ve received many emails asking about inservice points, especially those that meet the ESE Renewal Requirement. The Florida Diagnostic and Learning Resources System (FDLRS) in collaboration with The Florida Department of Education and BEESS offers self-paced independent study courses that you can take for inservice credit.
You can find the complete list of Independent Study Courses and register at https://fl-pda.org/. Follow these simple steps:
Find Independent Study Courses on the right side and click “Sign in.”
Sign in if you have an account. If not, click “Register here!” to create your free account.
Once you are signed in, click “Available” to see which available independent study course.
Choose a course that is meaningful and relevant for you and click on it.
Then click the green band “Complete Demographic Info and Enroll in Course.”
A course that is relevant for all educators and a personal favorite of mine is Universal Design for Learning K-12 Lesson Plans. This course is worth 10 inservice points and DOES count toward the ESE Renewal Requirement.
You may have seen memes like this one floating around social media now that schools are closed and parents are helping their children learn math. While these may give us a good chuckle, it is important for parents to understand Common Core Mathematics and why their children have been learning math this way for years now. Students in elementary school have ONLY learned mathematics with Common Core. These standards came from tons of research to help students become college and career ready. They came about to address several areas of need in the educational system. See this article for more about the history: https://www.vox.com/2014/10/7/18088680/common-core. Or if articles aren’t your jam, check out this quick video.
In a nutshell, Common Core strives to help our children to achieve conceptual understanding and not just rote memorization. When we experience high levels of stress (for example when students take high stakes testing – like the FSA) our working memory shuts down. The more stressed we become, the harder it is to retrieve things from memory. Thus, when we teach children to memorize, then give them high stakes tests, they shut down and are unable to recall the very information they need to recall! So, what Common Core strives to do is build conceptual understanding. If students have authentic experiences and are engaged in the learning of mathematics, then they have a plethora of experiences to pull from if memory shuts down.
Really though, just think about how the purpose of mathematics has changed. When we were in school our teachers told us stuff like “you won’t always have a calculator in your pocket.” Well, welcome to 2020 where I do infact have a calculator in my pocket at all times – my smart phone. So it becomes less important for students to memorize and more important for students to become critical thinkers and problems solvers. We, as educators now, are preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist, careers in 2030 and beyond. Students won’t need to have facts memorized to be successful in the workforce, they’ll need to know how to solve problems, think critically and collaborate.
I found an article and that really helped to put things into perspective. Dr. Keith Devlin, a mathematician at Stanford University wrote “… what is required today is a sufficiently deep understanding of all those procedures, and the underlying concepts they are built on, in order to know when, and how, to use those digitally-implemented tools effectively, productively, and safely.” His article entitled, All The Mathematical Methods I Learned In My University Math Degree Became Obsolete In My Lifetime is worth the read!
So if nothing else, take away this:
I hope this helps to put things into perspective. While the “new math” may seem confusing for those of us who learned a different way, it is actually great for our students. If you don’t know how to help your child with this math, you can work on building fluency and reinforcing important skills with games. Find out more from my blog post on Making Math Fun Again. The bottom line, don’t let your frustration show. When your frustration shows you can actually have a negative impact on your children’s learning! “A team of researchers led by UChicago psychologists Sian Beilock and Susan Levine found that children of math-anxious parents learned less math over the school year and were more likely to be math-anxious themselves—but only when these parents provided frequent help on the child’s math homework.” (Allen, 2015) You can learn more in the article Parents’ math anxiety can undermine children’s math achievement.
With school closures across the country, many parents are looking for activities that they can do with their children to keep the instruction going. At home parents may experience additional challenges. When your children don’t see you in the role of “teacher” it can be hard to take this newly imposed “homeschooling” seriously. So what can you do? Bring back family game night, or family game day! You can view my webinar entitled “Building Success Foundations of Mathematics at Home” to learn more about this and other ways to support your children’s math learning. https://mrschurch.net/2019/09/24/building-successful-foundations-of-mathematics-at-home-parent-webinar/
There is much research to support the use of game-based learning both in the classroom AND at home. We know keeping children (especially elementary aged children) engaged in the classroom and at home can be a challenge. Math games provide challenge and skill practice in a highly engaging format that makes them WANT to learn and participate. In a blog post published by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) by author Kitty Rutherford, who serves as the North Carolina Elementary Mathematics Consultant for the Department of Public Instruction in Raleigh, Kitty points out that:
“Games are an important tool for learning in elementary school mathematics classrooms:
• Playing games encourages strategic mathematical thinking as students find different strategies for solving problems and deepen their understanding of numbers.
• When played repeatedly, games support students’ development of computational fluency.
• Games present opportunities for practice, often without the need for teachers to provide the problems. Teachers can then observe or assess students and work with individuals or small groups of students.
• Games have the potential to allow students to develop familiarity with the number system and with “benchmark numbers” (such as 10s, 100s, and 1000s) and engage in computation practice, building a deeper understanding of operations.
• Games support a school-to-home connection. Parents can learn about their children’s mathematical thinking by playing games with them at home.”
In addition to the old school games (mentioned in my webinar above) like Battle Ship, Trouble, Monopoly, Uno and Dominoes, there are tons of games available for you to print from online. Today with my own 3rd grader and 5th grader we reviewed our multiplication facts in a super engaging way with the game Knock It Off! I got my version from Dots N’ Spots http://www.dots-n-spots.com/math-on-my-mind/. Based on their facial expressions I think you can tell who was winning! :-)
If you are going to go through the trouble of ordering 12 sided dice, you may want to be able to use them for other games, right? This blog had some great ideas, especially for higher level math for those of you with intermediate and secondary aged children. https://www.whatdowedoallday.com/math-dice-games/