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. The CCSS math standards are listed here in blue followed by their ambient counterparts.
Measurement and Data 4.MD
Solve problems involving measurement and conversion of measurements from a larger unit to a smaller unit.
3. Apply the area and perimeter formulas for rectangles in real-world and mathematical problems. For example, find the width of a rectangular room given the area of the flooring and the length, by viewing the area formula as a multiplication equation with an unknown factor.
The Grade 4 Math By Hand does not cover area and perimeter, nor does Waldorf Ed introduce it until Grade 5. It is a simple, straightforward concept however, that can easily be covered informally. Real-world problems are key here, with project-based learning being the most practical for both introduction and skills practice.
The local geography lesson block may be an ideal fit. Often, this study begins at homeschool or school with the kitchen table or desk as a starting point. Either of these could be measured and the concept of perimeter explained something like this. “When we bought this table, we had to make sure it was a good fit for our kitchen. So we had to measure the room and then measure the table at the store before deciding to buy it, to be sure it would be a good fit.” Then proceed to do both while explaining how perimeter works.
Teaching the concept of area might sound like this. “We needed a table that could comfortably fit place settings for our family. We use place mats at meals, so we had to be sure that the mats would fit on the tabletop with room to spare.” Many options here. Explain how area works then take the area of one place mat and multiply it by the number of mats. Find the area of the table and compare the two. Or map it all out on graph paper.
Make it large and adventurous! Find the perimeter of the local ball field by walking it, translating large steps to yards or feet. Later, using graph paper again, plot out the placement of the bases and outfield positions, according to regulation standards. Or plan next season’s garden using graph paper, while researching the amount of space needed for each plant.
Once the concept is learned, by grounding it in real-world situations, it can easily be applied to anything. Putting the cart before the horse by insisting on rote, abstract learning with endless drill and testing is counter productive at best. “Experience is the best teacher,” is a saying that’s especially true here.
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 4 math CCSS and their ambient counterparts.