Math & Literacy Unite!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Follow @mrsforest!

     I have discovered a new hobby of mine.  Recently, I have become an Annie Forest groupie. That might seem odd to some of you, seeing as I am a Literacy Coach and she is a math centered iCoach, but it really is not odd at all.  Trust me.  Literacy and math are not all that different.

     Sure, they are different.

     Yet, they are also the same.

     Good instruction is good instruction.  We can learn instructional techniques from all teachers, regardless of content.  It started with a building meeting that I couldn't attend, so Lucy Carrera videotaped it for me.  Then it was catching 10 minutes of a lesson she modeled in our 5th grade. After that, we ended up having a conversation around coaching, and she recommended a book.  Then, I got to see 10 more minutes of a lesson in a 2nd grade room.  The conclusion of my groupie-like stalking was her debriefing with 2nd grade today during their common plan.  She had me at "debrief."

     The truth is, I am a Literacy Coach by title. But, I taught math for 15 years before I switched roles, and even now I can't help but use my math background when it comes up.  I am definitely more of a literacy person, and explaining math is a little harder for me.  I was always good at it, but I soon discovered that teaching it and being good at it don't always add up to make the perfect equation.

     Annie modeled a lesson called Which One Doesn't Belong? (#WODB). This type of lesson was created by Christopher Danielson (@trianglemancsd).  Unlike the Sesame Street version, where there is one right answer in a simple classification activity, there are 4 right answers in #WODB.  In fact, when Annie modeled one in our 5th grade, I actually didn't have an answer for a minute.  If she had called on me, I would have sat there silent for a bit.  That's when I knew I was going to be her groupie.

        The truth is, I am a sucker for student led lessons.  That's why book clubs and true close reading are a few of my favorite literacy things.  You put yourself in front of students, or you gather students around a topic, and you let THEM drive the conversation.  Sure, you have taught them some things along the way that you hope they consider, but they have the keys.  It's been those lessons that I leave inspired.  So, seeing Annie step in front of students she doesn't know, and watch her ask them what they thought, was just perfect.

     Students need to have ideas of their own, grounded in some sort of evidence.

     Students need to know that their ideas can be shared and valued by others.

     Students need to know that not everyone will agree with their ideas, and there is often more than one right answer.  Ambiguity exists.

     If you are teaching math or reading, those above statements are true.  See, these two content areas can collide!

     If we can support students in building their ability to think critically, support their ideas, and have a conversation around them, then the same skills can transfer to other subject areas.  We are truly #bettertogether.

     If you want to read more about the kind of lesson Annie did, you can read this blog post here by Christopher Danielson, or you can visit Annie's blog here.