Friday, March 4, 2016

Mrs. Day's Class at Carrollton: Learning from A (Active) to Z (Zumba)

 On one of my classroom visits at Carrollton Elementary, I stopped in Mrs. Day’s 3rd grade class for a few minutes.  I love seeing students engaged and active, as well as incorporation of the 4 C’s (creativity, critical thinking, communication, collaboration).  It was exciting to be able to observe ALL of these taking place in her lesson and it was obvious that this is what the students were used to on a daily basis. I wanted to share this excitement with all of you, so I asked Lynn Briggs to go in and video a typical lesson in Mrs. Day’s classroom.

She was teaching a lesson on fractions which in my experience as a math teacher, is not an easy topic for elementary students.  She modeled problems at the board for students, then gave them one to try.  But she didn’t want them to do this on their own, or even work the problem.  Instead, she told them to talk to their buddy about what they would do.  The class began buzzing with conversation as students shared with each other what they would do.  I also overhead many of them taking the activity one step further and explaining the why. 

Throughout the lesson, she presented the information in many different formats and gave the students numerous opportunities to learn how to subtract fractions.  Students worked problems on their desktops using dry erase markers.  They drew pictures in their math notebooks with colored pencils.  They used manipulatives to represent parts of a whole.  And their entire time, they were collaborating, communicating, being creative and using critical thinking skills.

Mrs. Day’s students are very active in the classroom.  She knows students shouldn’t sit for too long.  As they say, “When the bum is numb, the brain is the same.”  She gives her students plenty of opportunities to move around.  She would play some music for the kids and they would walk and dance around the classroom until the music stopped, not unlike musical chairs.  Then they would partner with someone next to them to work on a problem, using dry erase markers to write on the desk top while standing.  After some collaboration, the music was back on and off they went to another partner, another problem, another desk.

It’s so important to make sure our students are engaged and Mrs. Day incorporates strategies that let the children have fun while they are learning.   She knows it’s much more meaningful and purposeful to teach by showing and not just be telling.  Following in that train of thought, I hope you enjoy watching the video so you can see for yourself the energy she and her students have for learning.