I started to write this post based around the title “The Importance of Thoughtful and Clear Planning Math” and was really struggling with how to start. I got out all of my math resources and started going through them looking for resources on planning and it’s importance. I was starting to get frustrated. I had numerous publications from the Ontario Numeracy Secretariat about Pedagogical Documentation, Communication in the Mathematics Classroom, Student Interaction, and Asking Effective Questions amongst others. I had books by Marian Small, curriculum documents and board policies. As I flipped through Seven Foundational Principles for Improvement in Mathematics, it hit me!
THIS IS THOUGHTFUL AND CLEAR PLANNING!
Why do I have all these resources. Yes I have collected them over the years but why have I kept them and why do I regularly refer to them. It is because I am carefully planning out my lessons, my units and my year. It all started because in Kindergarten we don’t have a math textbook. There was no prescribed way to teach Kindergarten math. I had to put it together myself. It has been a journey and 5 years into this journey there a some things that I have done the same from the beginning and many that are very, very different. Every year things change. I change, my philosophies change, my knowledge and understanding changes but most importantly my students change. I can’t just take a prescribed lesson and teach it the same way every year. My students have different backgrounds, differing levels of understanding and different learning styles. I may start a unit the same as previous years but it may go in different directions based on the needs of my students.
One of the big changes that happened when we moved from the traditional Kindergarten program in Ontario to the new Early Learning Kindergarten Program was that we were told we were not to do worksheets with our students anymore. Some people took this very literally but I took a slightly different approach that I believe has made me a much better and more thoughtful teacher. Every time I make a photocopy, create a lesson or design an activity I ask myself
“Is there a better way to do this?”
Much of the time the answer is yes. Yes they may learn this better with hands on manipulatives, Yes this is redundant. Yes this is not going to engage these students. Sometimes the answer is no. When students are learning numerals and how to print numerals I feel they do need some practice forming their letters properly using paper and pencils. This doesn’t mean we sit for hours copying numbers down but it means that a number worksheet may be part of a balanced program. Not everything was thrown out and changed but everything was looked at in a thoughtful and clear manner.