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. Because the Common Core Grade 1 Math Standards address addition and subtraction exclusively, they will appear here later, in conjunction with the blocks that focus on the 4 processes. Earlier math blocks focus on meeting the numbers up close and personal through stories, movement, art, form drawing, and hands-on activities like making real numbers. The numbers should come together for calculation only after an in-depth introduction has established them as friendly and personable, so essential for circumventing math fears and phobias!
Introduce the 4 processes pictorially and through movement, plays and stories. Create plays and stories around the four personalities, so they become knowably approachable. Have each one appear on the page every time its process is learned or practiced, with its formal or informal name and respective color.
Stories and plays can be the vehicles for presenting the characters, having each of their personalities and “jobs” as a focus. Math By Hand supplies the materials to make 4 hats and pouches in red, yellow, blue, and green, to be used as costuming for the plays and stories, or to wear when working with each of the processes. Here’s the synopsis of a Grade 1 play, to be presented in the middle of Block 2, after the real numbers’ activities are complete:
Cast of Characters:
The 4 Processes Characters
Farmers, shepherds, and anyone else with wares for sale bring the wares to the village storehouse, where the villagers, the King and his court all come to buy. The 4 Processes characters are given jobs that fit each of their strengths and capabilities
Plots should be simple with all of the characters true to type, with interactions that bring out their personalities and differences. There are many possibilities for casting the roles. For example, fewer than 4 children could take turns by changing hats and switching characters, with the parent or teacher playing the roles of the villagers and King.
Math By Hand supplies Doll Pins dressed as the 4 characters (see below), which may be more appropriate for 1 or 2 to act out the stories or plays. The foundational connections to the 4 Processes, attained by steeping them in colors and characters, will reap a lifelong benefit: an affinity for and appreciation of math.
Knowledge ensues in an environment dedicated to imaginative, creative knowing, where student and teacher alike surrender to the ensuing of that knowledge as a worthy goal. Do tune in tomorrow for the special jobs the King assigned each of the 4 Processes characters.