I got to teach my kiddo's

Thursday I finally got to teach the first part of my Maths unit - it went so great!! EXCEPT they knew almost nothing about graphs - no exaggeration at all.  These are kiddo's between 9 and 11 years old and should have had really decent exposure to graphing since they were five.  I should have been building on their existing knowledge, extending them and introducing the new knowledge that the older ones need for next year.

I used the suggestion from Runde's Room (http://www.rundesroom.com/2012/10/math-journal-sundays-pop-up-bar-graphs.html) about doing a diagnostic assessment through getting the class to write down all the graphs that they know...

Out of a class of 24
  • 22 knew pie graph (great - except they kept telling me it was because of fractions)
  • 20 knew bar graph (not bad really)
  • 12 knew line graph (but only 2 could tell me what it was)
  • 5 knew tally graph
  • 6 said photograph (and yep they meant photograph not pictograph)
  • 4 said circle graph (not to bad as it is another name for pie graph)
and then I got a whole lot of words that had graph in it (like photograph) and several kiddo's had blank paper.

When I put that data in a sort of bar graph (no scale, no even spacing, no labelling, no title), half of the class were convinced that it was a great graph and they could see all they needed and were prepared to argue their case!

I was so glad I followed up the idea I got from Runde's Room otherwise I would have gone in rather blindly expecting them to have some quite big base knowledge that is either missing or as happens completely forgotten!!!

Day 2 (Friday), I was meant to start to introduce mean, mode, medium, range however it was planned for a two day event (to then be built on over the weeks) and I knew I would have to start again on Monday, so I talked it over with my AT and said I would rather do one of my graph 'review' sessions and start mean etc on Monday.  She agreed with me.

So I thought once I started talking about strip graphs my kiddo's would show an oh yeah look or sound and they would recognise it from previous lessons (they should have been doing this from 2nd year in school and these guys are 5th and 6th year of school).  It did not happen, not one of them had any idea.

I have realised that I am going to have to completely fold back my lessons and half of each session that I have planned will not happen - all my worksheets that were designed for interactive practice may go out the window or what was meant to be one hour sessions may have to be two hour sessions or I teach two graph styles and then we have a practice day for those two styles otherwise I am overloading them with info and they are not getting to practice.  I am making sure that the lessons have a huge interactive part (so they are not listening to me drone on) and they have to write about each graph in their own words in their foldable (which they are loving!!!).

It just scares me as to how much I have to cover in the four weeks, the older kiddo's need to know this stuff before moving on next year where it starts to become more sink or swim schooling, where the schooling is definitely more build on existing knowledge that you MUST have not teaching from scratch.

I do not want to let these kiddo's down and it worries me that I might.

I tried to discuss it with my associate who really did not seem that concerned!!!  And when the next door teacher came through to talk about the student conferences that are to start next week (need to fit that into my planning now too), she made the comment that she shows the students their data on a graph and that at least gives them some exposure too and some understanding of graphing and covers that area!!!!!!  I had to pick myself up off the floor with that one - that is how she is going to cover graphing in the curriculum for her class. 

I am so trying not to judge and I really bit my tongue about saying anything to my associate - after all who am I to comment but a 3rd year student teacher - BUT I am judging somewhat.  When I see all the wonderful teachers in the blogging world and the extent they go too and who have so inspired my lesson planning and her teaching of stats will be a one hour conference with the students in a group (not even one on one) it makes me wonder if this may be why this knowledge is missing in my class (most of them were in her class last year).  But then again it may have been an off the cuff comment that really did not mean to sound that way, so once again I must be careful in my judgement - and for that matter what I say - no point going somewhere when I do not have the full story.

We were told in Uni that a lot of teachers have hang ups about teaching maths and for some if a change in the programme comes up that is the first thing to go out the window.  When I was discussing it with my associate she reckons most of the problem is that there is such a focus on number knowledge that things like statistics and time and geometry and measurement (the strands) get forgotten.  I do not think my associates argument is all that valid as everyone of the strands builds on base number knowledge - there is adding, subtracting, dividing, multiplication and fractions in all areas!

Oh well I cannot change what previous teachers may or may not have taught this class all I can do is go in and teach them as best as I can and hope that what I am doing will make a difference to their knowledge base - I so do not want to fail them.

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