A Year in the Life: Ambient Math Wins the Race to the Top!
For one year, 365 days, this blog will address the Common Core Standards from the perspective of creating an alternate, ambient learning environment for math. Ambient is defined as “existing or present on all sides, an all-encompassing atmosphere.”
And ambient music is defined as: “Quiet and relaxing with melodies that repeat many times. Why ambient? A math teaching style that’s whole and all encompassing, with themes that repeat many times through the years, is most likely to be effective and successful. CCSS math standards are listed here in blue, followed by ambient math suggestions.
Operations and Algebraic Thinking 3.OA
Multiply and divide within 100.
7. Fluently multiply and divide within 100, using strategies such as the relationship between multiplication and division(e.g., knowing that 8 x 5 = 40, one knows that 40 / 5 = 8) or properties of operations. By the end of Grade 3, know from memory all products of two one-digit numbers.
This post will be short and sweet. Short because it’s a bit repetitive to be consistently singing the praises of Waldorf education, and sweet because both Waldorf and Math By Hand’s goals are fluency in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division within 1000+ and knowing all times tables by heart, both by the middle to end of Grade 3.
“By heart.” This is quite literal because learning and practicing times tables should always happen with heartfelt joy. Yes, there needs to be an element of rote memorization, but for the most part, fun is had, colorfully creative learning tools and books are made, and a joyful noise is sung, recited, marched, and rhythmically moved to the beat of the times tables.
I call it “back door learning” because as Yeats said, “Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.” And not many fires can be lit with the boring statement, “six times four is twenty four.” Rather, the creative fire is sparked with the elements of mystery and surprise. Setting up a lesson with 10 river rocks placed in a large, perfect circle on the floor, with a chunky, colorful rope in the center, accompanied with the unlikely question, “What pattern does the 4 table make on this circle?” will pique any child’s curiosity and interest.
When I taught this lesson in a Waldorf Grade 2 class, it was met with gobs of enthusiasm. The next day, one very excited boy brought in a wonderful rendering of all the patterns superimposed on one another in different colors. See below for these patterns on a circle of 10, noticing that 1’s and 9’s, 2’s and 8’s, 3’s and 7’s, 4’s and 6’s are all mirrored.
Knowledge ensues in an environment dedicated to imaginative, creative knowing, where student and teacher alike surrender to the ensuing of knowledge as a worthy goal. Tune in tomorrow for more Grade 3 math CCSS and their ambient counterparts.