This summer was partially spent in aligning Common Core Mathematics curriculum (Massachusetts-style) with the district’s universally available materials and laying out a scope and sequence that makes sense vertically and horizontally. As anyone who has looked at the Common Core in depth can attest, it’s an on-going process full of starts and stops.
A particular challenge to 3rd and 4th grade teachers in this transition year – this year our students will be MCAS-tested on 2004 Curriculum Frameworks – is, while we work to transition there is a great need to keep a close watch on those standards that have been moved from our grade level. Particularly the standards for which our students will be accountable but were not previously taught to mastery.
To my thinking, this is where using the Daily Five in Mathematics makes perfect sense. I can still launch my core lesson – the Common Core-based lesson, have my students work for a period of time on the activity (notice I’m not saying worksheet!), reconvene for a summary discussion and refocus students on continued work using one of four categories: Strategy Games, Facts-Clocks-Money, Problem Solving, or Math Tools.
Yes, I know that the Sisters don’t use this terminology. These are the terms that I use because of the mind-blowing task of straddling two curricula while transitioning to full Common Core implementation.
As a third grade teacher, I know the bulk of my mathematics intervention – the dance to catch kids up on things that are now receiving more emphasis – will be on number sense and operations (CCM: NBT, OA) . Prior to this year, there was no explicitly spelled out requirement that students master addition and subtraction to 18s in second grade. We’ve got some wood-shedding to do here.
To keep things sane, and to allow me to meet several small groups, I have a few strategy games that I call “landmarks”. In our current multiplication unit, those games include array cards, Marilyn Burn’s Circle and Star game, as well as Close to 100 (or 1000) and Collection Card games (Investigations in Number Data and Space) we used to introduce 3-digit addition/subtraction. The teaching challenge is to pick out universal games where “rules” stay the same, but the ante is pushed to make it challenging for all students no matter what their level of mastery.
As most students use the four choices to continue to build mathematical concepts and skills, I can meet with small groups of students needing intervention support in place value, or understanding of addition/subtraction or some other yet undiscovered area of need.
How can I do that? Because my students are Independent Learners, I know that when I attend to the small group, the rest of the class is engaged in some meaningful practice and learning. The same Daily Five expectations for Literacy – get started right away, do math the whole time, work quietly, work on stamina – are applied to independent explorations in mathematics.
For me, the Daily Five principles applied to the mathematics class make this differentiation possible. My implementation certainly is not perfect, but knowing my students are getting what they need without the teacher being pulled away by monitoring what is going on in other areas of the classroom makes the work ahead possible. And definitely more enjoyable.