I heard Brian Bushart’s talk “Make Your Own Kind of Music” and Tracy Zager’s “Braking the Cycle” and other talks from the 2016 NCTM Annual Meeting and Exposition. The talks reminded me of my own children’s memories in elementary and middle schools (my son is in tenth grade and my daughter in 8th). Both have very fond memories of few of their teachers. Over the years, I have wanted to find out what made my children talk more fondly of certain teachers. Why do they keep few school memories alive?
Today I introduced my class to Number Talks. To be honest, I haven’t done this properly in the past. This year, I wanted to start off as it should be, so I took extra time to plan and prepare (I was at this for last two weeks!). First, I did some research at the ARRC and the resources listed under Number Talks. I read the TEKS over and over for Unit 1 “Introducing Number Concepts to 5” and marked this one:
Focus TEKS K.2D recognize instantly the quantity of a small group of objects [up to 5 in this unit] in organized and random arrangements.
I prepared several dot cards in random arrangements representing 4. Students were very excited and attentive (it helps that math is first in our schedule). The first arrangement was 4 dots in a row. The first student said he counted the dots, another one shared that he just knew there were four dots. The second arrangement was 4 dots arranged as in a dice, and their eager responses were similar to the first, except for one. This student said she saw 2 and 2 dots and she knew 2 plus 2 is four (I tried to remain very calm and neutral but I wanted to shout, YAY!!!) That paved the way for the next. The arrangement was 3 dots in a row with one on top and students responses got more descriptive, “I saw 3 pls 1”, “I see 2 in the middle and 2 on the sides”. As simple as that, the first Number Talks started in my class; and it’s only the beginning.
When school started last week, my children came home very excited about their new teachers. I noticed that their conversations have motivation in common. I think I found my answer; it’s inspiration. My kiddos memories are about the inspirational moments they got from these teachers. So, I agree with Brian’s talk. If we only repeat our lessons, like in a known pattern, or a scripted dialogue, we will not cause a change in our audience. When we MAKE our own music, we’ll motivate and inspire our students, enough to last throughout their school years and beyond. This is the mantra that will guide my lesson planning this year!