Although I have come to dread snow days (maybe because I have three boys at home!), I did get a lot done today on one of my Master’s projects.  Our cohort is working on creating Teacher Resource Books (TRBs) with at least 10 lessons included, as part of our independent study seminar course.  The focus is on integrating Earth Science with other curricular subjects.  I’ve asked to “steal” a third grade class for their unit on soil, and have been designing a unit that will integrate technology and math with  hands-on, inquiry-based science.  I miss having a class of my own, and am really looking forward to getting into the classroom again!  Any great soil ideas???

I was reading an article from a recent issue of Riverdeep’s Classroom Flyer, which I receive once a day in my inbox.  The article was very timely, especially after meeting with our county Title 1 Teachers and Director.  We were informed that our 3rd grade math pretest scores were not as high as we would hope, and that further program development would be directed at K-2 Math.  We had a good discussion about the need for students to develop critical, and multi-step thinking skills in math.  The following quote is from a guide designed to help K-2 teachers set up math centers and activities in their classrooms that would promote just this kind of thinking.  It is published by The Center For Innovation in Education (1990).  Probably better known for their “Math Their Way” series.

Below is a table taken from a chart in the The Piaget Primer (the ages have been rounded off to the nearest year), (p. 92) which shows the average age when children conserve for each type of measurement.  The age ranges are based on Piaget’s earlier studies.

Average Ages of Conservation*

Number………………………………….. 6 – 8 years

Linear …………………………………….. 6 – 8 years

Solid amounts ………………………… 7 – 9 years

Liquid amounts ……………………… 6 – 9 years

Area ……………………………………….. 8 -10 years

Weight ……………………………………. 9 -11 years

Solid volume ………………………….. 8 -10 years

Displaced volume …………………… 11 -14 years

Ed Labinowicz states in The Piaget Primer, (p. 92) that there are some surprising differences between the ages reported for Swiss and American children. The developmental sequences remain the same. However, there are many reports that American children achieve the “landmarks of development” at a later age, particularly at advanced levels. Labinowicz feels this discrepancy is reflected in the surprising low percentage of formal operational thinkers in the American adult population.  Perhaps the reason there’s a low level of “formal thinkers” is that the American schools have typically focused on workbook mathematics requiring children to fill in right answers. The focus is on mastering computation rather than understanding mathematical processes and patterns.

Ouch!  Sometimes the truth hurts.  The article (chapter) goes on to provide some great ideas for creating daily math opportunities for young kids, by the way!

Photo:  Christel Hendrix

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About kcollazo

4th/5th grade teacher looping in 1:1 netbook initiative!

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