Engaging with Technology vs. Teaching Like a Pirate

Planning this week’s math lessons was a snap – at first! I am at the exact point where I started creating more engaging lessons last year. In fact, I made the huge leap last year from lecturing at the front of the room with chart paper, while making a thinking map to explain the steps to the standard algorithm for addition and subtraction of whole numbers and decimals – to putting the whole thing into an engaging nearpod lesson! Students had 1-to-1 ipads! They viewed the lesson on their own devices as I controlled the slides from mine! True, we stopped for long minutes as they copied my thinking map onto their thinking maps in their journals.  I do remember feeling uncomfortable as that was going on, but I couldn’t think how to make it better.  THEN . . . they worked the example problems on their ipads! With their fingers instead of pencils! Oh yes, the students did seem to love using those ipads! And so, I basically copied the lesson plan into my current year.

Then I drove 4 hours to see Dave Burgess (@burgessdave) talk about Teaching Like a Pirate on Saturday. 

On Sunday, I revised my lesson plan for this week .

First of all, you should know what we already told 4th grade students about base ten blocks.

On Monday morning, the students will get their journals and pencils, and walk down the hall to an empty classroom with me. They will first notice the caution tape stretched across the doorway. On the door itself they will see a long piece of butcher paper with the words “Time Machine” on it. We will open the door, duck under caution tape, and enter the nearly empty room. Students will grab base ten blocks as they enter and find a spot on the floor. I will stand to the side, and “emcee” as we travel backwards through the summer, through the last day of school last year, past last Christmas, and back into the fall of 3rd grade. When we arrive, I will be a third grade teacher, and they my third grade students. I will then pick random students to stand on the table, modeling given numbers with their base ten blocks (300, 4, 70). I will call another set of students to stand on the floor in front of them modeling different numbers (200, 7, 50). They will be able to do this with our base ten blocks because the blocks once again represent 100s, 10s, and 1s – like they did last year. Holding my own journal and pencil, speaking with a “science – y” accent, I will explain that to add the numbers with the standard algorithm, I need them lined up vertically by place value (adjusting the student models if needed), I will start at the ones, combine, carry, etc. We will all record the problem in our journals. We will complete more problems with students explaining the process. Later we will move forward in time, back to fourth grade, so I can ask them to model decimal numbers with the same base ten blocks. There will be tennis balls available to use as decimal points. Students will explain the standard algorithm for adding decimal numbers. We will move back and forth through time, modeling and solving both addition and subtraction problems with whole numbers and decimals.

think this will be a much more engaging – and obviously more student centered –  way to learn the standard algorithm for adding and subtracting whole numbers and decimals than last year’s nearpod/ipad lesson. I have tried to create an experience, as Mr. Burgess challenged. I asked myself where in the school building I could teach this lesson, and my room wasn’t the only answer. I will teach all of my content as the students engage in a kinesthetic experience. I love incorporating technology, but for this lesson no technology is needed.

3 years: chart paper/lecture . . . ipads/nearpod presentation . . . journals/time travel/students teaching other students . . .

I’m learning as I go!

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