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 next series of posts will focus on Grade 4 Common Core English Language Arts Standards. Math By Hand integrates language arts with math, and though the Waldorf curriculum is taught in blocks, none of the subjects are really taught in isolation. Integration is key, and the ambient standards posted here will reflect that. The Common Core language arts standards are listed here in blue, followed by ambient language arts suggestions.
SPEAKING & LISTENING
Comprehension and Collaboration:
Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 4 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
Come to discussions prepared, having read or studied required material; explicitly draw on that preparation and other information known about the topic to explore ideas under discussion.
Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions and carry out assigned roles.
Pose and respond to specific questions to clarify or follow up on information, and make comments that contribute to the discussion and link to the remarks of others.
Review the key ideas expressed and explain their own ideas and understanding in light of the discussion.
Paraphrase portions of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
Identify the reasons and evidence a speaker provides to support particular points.
Waldorf students learn to speak and listen effectively from Kindergarten on. Kindergartners arrive ready for vigorous play. It’s play that’s heartfelt, joyful, and extremely purposeful, with an element of cooperation that requires excellent speaking and listening skills. Circle time consists of elaborate movement, complex verses learned by heart, singing, and much more. The story is saved till last, and is the most focused part of the day, with all raptly listening.
All grades up until sixth grade retain the story form with pictures, and continue to learn and recite progressively more complex verse. The story retell happens every day and is an excellent exercise in the kinds of speaking and listening listed above. Students carefully listen to the story and are able to retell it the next day with totally detailed recall and accuracy. They respectfully take turns speaking, building on what others have said, while continually paraphrasing, since all details and information contained in the story is mentally retained with no need for note taking.
As usual, the Waldorf method is diffuse and broad, since the content is always paramount, and all the skills necessary to learn said content are secondary. Listening and speaking well and effectively happens quite naturally, with no need to directly learn techniques and/or rules. This intricate form drawing, pinned by Dolly Oberti on Pinterest, is a prime example of presenting an idea or the essence of a story using diverse media.
As always, 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 as we continue to explore ambient counterparts to the CCSS language arts standards.