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
Represent and interpret data.
4. Make a line plot to display a data set of measurements in fractions of a unit 1/2, 1/4, 1/8). Solve problems involving addition and subtraction of fractions by using information presented in line plots. For example, from a line plot find and interpret the difference in length between the longest and shortest specimens in an insect collection.
The problem here, as with so much of the Common Core, is relevance and integration (or the lack thereof). One of the online examples for this standard involved students measuring paper clips, erasers, and pencils, to create factions for placement on a line plot. Such work is deadening, certainly not creative or enlivening. As Sir Ken Robinson said in one of his wonderful TED talks on education, we have our schoolchildren doing tasks comparable to low-paid office clerks.
If the point is to teach a concept, then it should be taught in a clear straightforward way, so that once is enough. No need for endless drill and testing. You could revisit the fraction-coins activity found in post #267, setting it up for one or more student(s). Use lots of coins so the student(s) can circle them, creating many fractions and repeating each one several times.
Set up a large, colorful line plot on the floor (carpeted is best) using poster paper or poster board, with colored masking tape as the baseline, and push pins for the points. Actual coins could be used under the baseline to represent fractions (one dime = 1/10, two quarters = 2/4 or 1/2, etc). Then simply record the number of fractions circled, using the push pins, employing addition and subtraction as needed. Translate to a pencil and paper line plot when finished.
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.