This week has really made me think about the value of a team. On Wednesday, we started to explore measurement as we compared the sizes of our various pumpkins. Watching the students in action, I realized that they need more opportunities to measure items using non-standard units. Now I’ve taught K-2 for 12 years, and this is definitely not the first time that I’ve worked on measurement with students, but I really wanted to try and create a real world context for this math. My problem was that I couldn’t think of a good reason to use non-standard measurement. Why not just grab a ruler?
I decided to tweet out my request and see what others had to say. I mentioned my previous vice principal, Kristi, in my tweet, as she’s the one that inspired me over the years to make math meaningful, and I thought that she might be able to help. It wasn’t long before she started chiming in with possibilities, and an instructional coach for our Board, Moojean Seo, also contributed ideas. Until they started talking, I never even considered the connection between math and phys-ed, but now I had some fun new options. Thankfully both of our awesome phys-ed teachers, Frank and Cindy, are on Twitter, so I mentioned them in our discussion, and Frank offered to meet with me the next day to help me out with some of the games. Thanks to our discussion, I now have Bocce Ball, pedometers (linked with mapping), and Trundle Wheels as exciting options for non-standard measurement. Frank’s even arranged to teach my students Bocce Ball on Monday, so that when I use it after that, I can make more of the connections to math, and students will have a good understanding of how the game is played.
As I was exploring these phys-ed connections with Frank, a wonderful intermediate teacher at our school, Frances, mentioned a non-standard measurement connection with horses. My students love animals, so they would find this really interesting. Hopefully I can arrange a Skype call with one of her friends (that owns and/or rides horses) and students can explore non-standard measurement in another way.
That night, another teacher in my Twitter PLN, Angie Harrison, tweeted me with some non-standard measurement ideas. She had a neat activity with wind-up toys that made me think of a comparison between wind-up and battery-operated toys. We’re exploring energy right now, so this activity could also link with our Science learning.
After all of these great online and offline conversations, I’ve been trying to plan things out for next week. It was during this planning process that our fabulous Arts Consultant, Karen Wilkins, asked about meeting to exchange ideas. I happily arranged to meet with her today, and I’m so glad that this happened. While we were chatting today, I started to think about the connection between music, proportional reasoning, and non-standard measurement. Now I have some exciting new math and language provocations for next week. I can’t wait to see my musicians, mathematicians, and musical writers in action!
And as I sit here, on a Friday night, ridiculously excited about new Math, Language, Science, Music, and Phys-Ed learning for next week, I can’t help but think about how a “team” made this possible. I could have tried some of the measurement activities that I’ve done before. They may have even worked. At some point in time, I may even use them. There can be value to what we’ve done in the past. There can be value to what we create and implement on our own. But this week showed me how much richer teaching and learning can be thanks to a team! (A special “thank you” to everyone that helped me out this week. My Grade 1 students will benefit because of you.) What are some of your “team” success stories? How do you decide when and how to ask for help? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!