Teaching using the big ideas is helpful as most classroom teachers are teaching a students with a variety of abilities, needs and extensions. Allowing the big ideas to be the focus allows all students in the classroom to be met with challenges that are appropriate for THEM.
When using the big ideas to plan teachers are sure that we are meeting the curriculum expectations for our students. The Big Ideas (especially when looking at Marian Small and Van de Walle teaching resources) we see that the concepts throughout strands are connected. Planning using these connections helps students see the reflection of other skills in other areas of math.
Big ideas and this “clustering” helps teachers focus their assessment and instructional strategy based on what works and what doesn’t work for their students. We are able to give students more time, more perspective and better connections when teaching this way because we can be better teachers and students ourselves.
Using this method is essential in my classroom. As a new teacher (and a growing one) I am always on the hunt for more resources and better strategies to reach my students. After meeting with an RT from the board and getting her input on how to use the resources to the best of my ability I am seeing how effective this type of planning and resourcefulness can be. My students who are academically struggling see a lot of growth from this “big idea” concept through cross-curricular and cross-strand skills and knowledge. They are seeing connections throughout their past math class experience.
Importance of thoughtful and clear planning
I loved the dominoes effect of planning a math lesson it really spoke to me in a lot of ways. As teachers start with a clear objective in mind just like when we build with dominoes. How each individual or domino reaches that summative/cumulative rich task will be there prior knowledge and understanding), and how it coincides with trial and error, reflection and interaction with math partner. In dominoes this is when you tip the first one and none fall down, and the second time they are fall down but not in proper sequence. Finally, the dominoes are sequenced, organized and set off in a proper way. This reflects when students are given the opportunity to be successful students are able to refine and extend their knowledge. Keeping this sequence in mind when planning is helpful to ensure students are accessing their knowledge in an appropriate context with moving forward as a goal.
I have seen plenty of math lessons that have turned to utter failures cough cough…
This is usually poor planning, poor diagnostic assessment or trying to do a certain lesson during a crazy mixed up day at school. Having the plans in place helps me come back from this type of failure (and hopefully we all have had this experience). Also being FLEXIBLE to trying different things and not afraid to fail in this way (or see those dominoes crash on the ground) will help my students feel the same way when their work is not correct too.