I’ve been focusing a lot of my energy, lately, on getting my afternoon math block right. The morning has gotten better because I’ve been more consistent about explaining centers and I’ve started our morning meeting earlier, but it still feels, often, like my afternoon is a hot mess, my kids won’t stop talking, and there’s 10 minutes at the end of the day where I’m not sure how to keep my students occupied while we’re getting ready to go home.
Things have been getting a little better – about two months ago, I started doing a little math meeting routine where we all say the date, “yesterday was” and “tomorrow will be. For example, “Today is Friday, March 31, 2017. Yesterday was Thursday, March 30, 2017. Tomorrow will be Saturday, April 1, 2017.” Then we count to 100 or 120 by fives and tens.
Last week, I added in a little number sense routine, where I hold out some blocks and ask how many blocks I would have to add or take away to get to a different number of blocks. I try to get the kids to explain it to the class, which I guess is something like a math talk.
Here’s an example.
Ms. Macy: I have some blocks. Can anyone tell me how many blocks this is?
Student: It’s 34 blocks.
Ms. Macy: Good job, yep, it’s 34 blocks. I wish I had 12 blocks. Can anyone tell me how I could get to 12 blocks?
Student: You could take away two tens and then take away two ones.
Ms. Macy: Great job, now do that with the blocks and explain it to the whole class.
Student: (gets up in front of class) So we started out with 34 blocks, and I knew we wanted to get to 12 so we have to subtract, so I took away 2 tens but I still had 14 left. I took away 2 more ones and then I had 12.
This week, I started something new in my math block that’s actually worked out pretty. It feels like such an obvious solution, I’m a little embarrassed that it took me this long to figure it out. I got a review packet off Teachers Pay Teachers, printed off five pages of it, and have my kids do a page of it every day, as an early finisher activity. This buys me a little time at the end of the day to get homework folders together, and gives my kids who don’t get dismissed as early something to do while I get my bus riders out the door.