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
Number and Operations in Base Ten 4.NBT
Generalize place value understanding for multi-digit whole numbers.
1. Recognize that in a multi-digit whole number, a digit in one place represents ten time what it represents in the place to its right. For example, recognize that 700 / 70 = 10 by applying concepts of place value and division.
Place value, in the Waldorf and Math By Hand methods, is introduced with lots of tactile manipulatives and a variety of materials that support a pictorial grasp of the concept, so the place values of 1’s, 10’s, 100’s, and 1,000’s are thereby firmly established. If initial impressions are given and taken in the appropriate language to each specific age, they have staying power and are there for good. And from then on, those concepts do not need to be constantly and repetitively reinforced and drilled.
There are bigger fish to fry, so to speak, in Grade 4. Math lessons should be devoted (in the true sense of the word) to the complexity of fractions, equivalency, mixed numbers, decimals, and a beginning look at positive and negative numbers on the number line, as well as basic, introductory algebra. In addition, the well-rounded fourth grader nurtures a nascent consciousness of the surrounding world, through local geography and comparative studies of the human and animal.
Along those lines, here is a wonderful idea from the Atelier Pour Enfants‘ blog: creating animal figures with leaves! This one quite nicely captures the essence of elephant.
The main focus in the Grade 4 human and animal study is to find traits in both that are reflective of the other. For instance, the dexterity of the elephant’s trunk might be compared to the human’s opposable thumb. Many opportunities abound to build bridges between the two worlds and therefore nurture a love of and caring for nature and the environment. Bigger fish to fry indeed, that preempts completing reams of busy-work worksheets or teaching and learning the focuses on standardized testing prep.
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.