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4th-grade math

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Direct instruction: my way or the highway

I am observing a fourth-grade class, in the southeastern part of the county. The students are working on multiplying double digit multiplicands. The lessons start with reviews and then direct instruction. Guided practice follows. Then students work alone. The teacher uses an electronic board to explicitly model her strategy and expects students to follow her methods exactly. Last week, she said that she would take off points for skipping a step in her method. The strategies offered make sense and would work if they could be remembered, the first step in Bloom’s  Revised Taxonomy. However, the students will be in trouble if they forget that strategy at the end of the year.

Building experience with concrete objects

 About three bins of manipulative pieces sit above the lockers. I have seen one bin opened for a rainy day recess inside. The child with an IEP ventured inside and brought out some connecting blocks. I didn’t investigate whether he was solving math problems. I opened another bin looking for pieces for my lesson and they were still sealed in bags with the shipping statement on top. I’m only there twice a week; so I missed the array review for multiplication. Arrays with algorithm were posted on the wall.

A problem was posed.

Four students each had some colored pencils. Each student had 3 red and 2  blue pencils. Show 2 different ways to found out the total number of colored pencils.  One student drew an array and then counted the squares one by one.

The problem reminded me of one of  Dr. Piel’s DMI tasks to determine whether children have progressed from pre-operational to  concrete stage of behavior, that indicates whether they have reached the stage of maturation to learn math. So I asked the teacher if I could take a quick poll. “Are there more red pencils or are there more pencils?” About a third of the class of 29 raised their  indicating there were more red pencils. Their answer begs the question, “Are we expecting too much too soon of our students?” Rather, is the state requiring developmentally appropriate curriculum?


Written by autumnsfall2

November 5, 2010 at 1:28 am

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Autumn,
    I enjoyed reading your about your clinical experience. You pose an interesting question at the end of your summary. I have also ran into several teachers like the one you observed. It is discouraging for the students and also for the parents that don’t know the exact steps the teachers expect the student to use. Thanks for summary, Angela

    Angela Skeith

    November 12, 2010 at 3:49 am

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