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 not appear here until the Grade 1 math blocks 3 and 4: the 4 Processes. Math blocks 1 and 2 focus on meeting the numbers up close and personal through stories, movement, art, and hands-on activities like making real numbers. (Note that Grade 1 math could be divided into three blocks of 20 days each: Number Forms/Real Numbers/4 Processes & Practice, or four blocks of 15 days each: Number Forms/Real Numbers/4 Processes/4 Processes Practice.)
This will be a shorty blog, partially pre-empted by a fabulous concert, Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (not bad for our small town here in the N. Cali Sierra Foothills). Two of tonight’s selections were my faves. The first was “It’s Not Easy Being Green” and the second was the encore, Marsalis on trumpet accompanied only by bass, drums, and piano. The first debuted on Sesame Street, sung by Jim Henson as Kermit the Frog. Here are the lyrics:
It’s not that easy being green;
Having to spend each day the color of the leaves.
When I think it could be nicer being red, or yellow or gold- or
something much more colorful like that.
It’s not easy being green.
It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things.
And people tend to pass you over ’cause you’re not standing out like
flashy sparkles in the water- or
stars in the sky.
But green’s the color of Spring.
And green can be cool and friendly-like.
And green can be big like an ocean, or
important like a mountain, or tall like a tree.
When green is all there is to be
It could make you wonder why, but why wonder?
Why Wonder, I am green and it’ll do fine, it’s beautiful!
And I think it’s what I want to be.
Originally sung by Jim Henson/Kermit the Frog
This resonated for me with a simpler, quieter time in education when Kindergarten was stories and naps, milk and cookies, and play, play, play. The grades were taught by real, live teachers loving to teach and loving their rooms full of kids. A time when the basics were enough, and testing was only little daily quizzes, plus teacher-made midterms and finals. And assessment was a handwritten blue report card, seen only by the teacher, child, and parent. Perhaps Ipads and apps might be the flashy sparkles on the water? And might I say that our education system may very well need to be made green again: slowed down and simplified.
Here’s the Roman numeral hand trace as promised yesterday. Have the child(ren) trace first the left, than both hands together, with a pencil. Note the “V” and “X” (5 and 10), and know that all the lively color isn’t just fancy frills. The child from 7 to 14 needs to be educated with heart and art, and the operative word here is “needs” because the heart connection is absolutely necessary for what’s being taught to be properly received. You will find that the rainbow is a recurring theme, an expression of the irrepressible joy that shines through when children are artfully taught. 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. More Grade 1 numbers tomorrow!