Wednesday, May 18, 2016

6 Area Design Challenges

I was energized to create a family workshop simply by seeing examples from a 3rd grade classroom on TwitterMy recent CCSD FACES Family Enrichment Day workshop was inspired by a tweet I saw from Carrie King.  I was immediately drawn to the open-ended nature of the task card and wanted to build an interactive parent-child workshop based on her photograph.

Source: Carrie King 
I had to to think of what skills would be needed in order to access this project.  What would the parent and child have to already know in order to be successful?  I planned a series of quick and endlessly repeatable routines to build up to the final project!

Roll a Rectangle

I started the workshop, as I do all math workshops, by briefly explaining C.R.A. (Concrete, Representational, and Abstract).  I stressed that manipulatives are not just for elementary children. All students move through a developmental sequence from concrete to abstract, and many need the physical representations for a longer period than is often provided in schools. Therefore, we need help from parents to help provide additional support at home.  To demonstrate the developmental sequence, we started with modeling multiplication with square tiles - Roll a Rectangle.
Roll 2 dice. One dice represents the rows and the other represents the columns
The families were not allowed to take the square tiles home, but I showed them additional images of Wheat Thins and Cheez Its being used in a similar fashion. 
Roll a Rectangle with Cheese Its in Mrs. Jackson's 3rd grade class

Area Dice Game

After manipulating concrete objects I introduced the families to the Area Dice Game. The participants rolled the two dice and represented the area on white grid paper.   
(We offered support for our younger guests that are not quite ready for multiplication.)

I supplied the families with multiple pieces of extra grid paper to take home, but also showed them that these representations could be done outside with sidewalk chalk like Jaclyn Jackson's 3rd grade class completed one sunny afternoon!
Jacyln Jackson's 3rd grade class

Multiplication Table

 I modeled  how to use a handy Multiplication Table (drawn to scale).  I chose this table because it clearly shows what the abstract number represents in an array.  Many of the educators and attendees had never seen or used a reference guide like this illustrated example.
Multiplication Table (Color, with Numbers)

Choose a Challenge

Build a Robot
Design a City
Design a Community Playground
Plan a Dream Bedroom
Design a Petting Zoo
Design a Dream House
Explaining the directions to build a robot and using Carrie King's photos as examples. 
I quickly moved through several examples to explain the six tasks I imitated and innovated from the work of Carrie King. This is a natural progression from the concrete to the abstract.  Each of the tasks give a total square units and the learner has to create the object or design.  For example, the head of the robot is a total of 36 square units which means a child could construct a 12x3, 18x2, 9x4, 1x36 rectangle.  The dimensions allow for multiple responses!

Download the 6 tasks!  (FREE)

I also incorporated related books that are relevant to each of the six tasks, and encouraged families to link reading with the mathematics.  I mentioned that families could read I Wanna New Room and also incorporate writing with the "Dream Bedroom" project.  Parents could ask their children to write descriptively about the bedroom choices and layout.  For a visual example,  I showed the bedroom maps and opinion writing that I had students complete during a series of 3rd grade model lessons. 

Unfortunately, I had to present the workshop in a 35 minute session and did not get to see the projects and games fully completed. Completion was not my intention.  It was just a time to get their feet wet.

Regardless of the compact time frame, I believe I reached my goals with the assistance of the translators and volunteers.  A majority of the attendees are non-English speakers with varying levels of education.  The feedback was tremendous and positive. The parents appreciated the novelty of this approach and style of mathematics instruction. The children and parents were excited to take the extra materials home.

Ultimately, I wanted to give the parents and children just a quick taste of multiple ways to master multiplication facts at home.  I wanted to give them unique ideas and tangible resources (beyond flashcards and worksheets) that they could immediately take home and implement.  I wanted to provide experiences that were engaging and promote positive attitudes about math. I wanted them to feel safe to explore, question, and collaborate. I wanted to let them attempt the activities for just long enough to feel confident to use it at again at home.   

I am so thankful for teachers that freely share ideas on social media and keep me energized! 

I look forward to presenting this again in the future.  Stay tuned... 

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