Mathematics as a Teachable Moment
There are six different Teachable Moment Manuals – these differ from the Power of Ten materials in focus and scope.
Teachers who use the Teachable Moment Manuals are encouraged to use the Yearly Plan to develop their own personal and unique plan for delivering the curriculum. Teachers who work from strengths and interests that are in line with the community often become more enthusiastic about math and, as a result, so do their students.
The advantage of teaching in a more integrated way is that the curriculum is covered several times during the year and in a variety of contexts. Students learn and are assessed over longer periods of time; often with a better retention of the concepts studied and are likely more able to attach meaning to the material studied. The crux of the philosophy is meaning. Individual student meaning is facilitated when students are motivated – this can be enhanced by choice. Choice reduces stress because it gives the students a sense of control and often provides a personalized learning program with appropriate levels of challenge.
Students are encouraged to do the All the Facts sheet by doing the facts they know first; then to use strategies to learn the facts they need to know. Rigid timelines are not given, nor do students race to finish the assessment sheets. Because problems are often written by the students, they are able to make connections to their own previous learning within the context of their homes and community. A climate of trust is encouraged when the teacher and students focus on explanations of how problems are solved. Diversity is valued by asking the students if any of them can do the problem in a different way. The focus is on growth over longer periods of time – frequently not possible in a textbook format where teaching is focussed on one or two major concepts per chapter with little time for review.
The other major premise of the Teachable Moment Program is that every class is a multiage class. Teachers need to create opportunities for students who are working ‘below’, ‘at’ and ‘above’ the curriculum. When teachers “teach to a text”, they often teach only to the grade level; thus the third of students in the class operating below grade level and the other third operating above grade level are not challenged appropriately. In the opinion of the author, all classes contain a range of ability of at least four grade levels – not much greater than what is often referred to as a “split class.” Research shows that multi-age classes are very good places to learn, partly because the teacher understands that all students do not work at the same level. Traditional textbooks have a difficult time meeting the wide range that exists in all classes, split or not.
Each Teachable Moment Manual contains a section (or sections) on:
There are six different Teachable Moment Manuals. All are similar to the description above. The tools and ideas transfer from grade to grade but the curriculum covered is different. Coverage of the curriculum is generated by the “Yearly Plan” which varies depending on grade level. When the grades covered in the manual are similar (as in the manual for grades 3 to 5 and grades 4 to 6) the main difference is in the Yearly Plan and many of the chapters may be identical.
Teachable Moment Manuals for grades 4 to 7, grades 5 to 8 and grades 6 to 8 have many identical chapters and a Yearly Plan for teaching each grade is included. A teacher of a class with two or more grades is advised to use the ‘higher grade’ as the reference for the Yearly Plan and assessment because the process and main teaching tools are similar for each grade level. The differences are scale and intensity. Expectations for decimals, fractions and percents are much different in a grade four class than in a grade five or six class.
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