Education Week, among many news sources, reports that big shifts are ahead for math instruction. Big shifts can start with small steps like ten frame math.
Ten frame tiles are the best way for children in Kindergarten through Grade 2 to understand counting, quantity, and arithmetic.
Using the right tools in the primary grades is one way to make sure that children develop the deep understanding of number that they need for strong foundations in arithmetic. Now it is up to teachers and families to help children succeed.
We here at mathcoachinteractive got really inspired by recent media coverage of how students attitudes can positively affect their learning outcomes. We did a little research to find books that could be the basis for fun STEM units about the brain.
Here are some “finds.”
For Kindergarten-Grade 3 Young Genius: Brains by Kate Lennard
Even very young children are curious about how their bodies work, including their brains. Reviewers with children ages 4-7 give this book high marks. Here is a typical comment: “The writer and illustrator [are] incredible at putting things the way a young child could understand.”
Written in conversational tone with a younger reader in mind, we learn a lot about the science of the brain. Hands On experiments with each chapter make this a great STEM resource.
NOTE: The idea that working your brain makes you smarter is addressed only in “Last Thoughts” on page 59. But kids are likely to find this book so interesting, that they won’t even worry about whether they are smart enough to read it.
Grades 5 and up
In my experience, middle schoolers actually enjoy picture books, so any of the books cited above would be a good choice. For a deeper dive into the history and science of brain science, these also look like a good bet.
The Great Brain Book by H.P. Newquist
Although the reading level looks pretty high (with fairly dense text), the illustrations will appeal to children regardless of their reading level with the kinds of gory details that kids just love.
I’d recommend this as a read aloud for Grades 5 and up.
The Human Brain Book by Rita Carter et al.
This Dorling Kindersley book has all the intriguing visuals that we come to expect from this imprint. Dense text is sectioned into manageable boxed sections that invite diving in to find intriguing factoids.
As teachers and parents, we know that when our children believe in themselves, they are happier, more persistent learners. The media is finally catching on with articles that highlight how students’ beliefs about what it means to be smart can make them into more successful, persevering learners.
Yesterday we shared a great article, “Kids Fail Less When They Know Failure is Part of Learning,” research that confirms the addage, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
After you read the article, go to Brainology to see how it works. The good people at Brainology (www.mindsetwords.com) have posted videos to get you started, as a parent or as a teacher, helping children become happy, engaged power-learners.
We here at mathcoachinteractive.com respect children’s innate math-i-ness and support children as they learn. With our common sense tutorial system, based on best practices, children learn to build up their brain power.
For families: Raising happy children can be challenging. Here is an online resource that I always find helpful, brought to us by the Children’s Health Council, a wonderful organization in the Stanford University family of resources. Even if you do not live in the Bay Area to attend their many free information seminars, the articles in the Children’s Health Council newsletters provide helpful suggestions for actionable parenting techniques that you can apply at home.
For teachers: If you have a student with ADHD in your classroom, share these practical tips with families. These practical tips for helping children get organized and stay on task can greatly reduce stress levels at home and at school.
As a teacher you probably already know that when your students believe that they can succeed at something if they try hard enough, they will use mistakes as a learning moment and become persistent problem solvers. Part of being a great teacher is to teach children that learning is hard work.
Now there is research to back up the wisdom of “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.”
Researchers found that explicitly telling children that failure is a normal part of learning led to a more can-do attitude and greater success in problem solving when faced with a difficult task. “Helping children to interpret difficulty . . . as [a normal part of learning], improved their performance on very demanding and difficult tasks and reduced their feelings of incompetence.”
My friend Nan requires her fifth graders to analyze the exercises they got wrong on classwork or homework and figure out the correct answer before they get to sign off on the assignment. This procedure helps children dig into the work at hand, learn about themselves as learners, identify misconceptions, and build the confidence that comes from a job well done.
Of course, as a teacher, you already know this. Pass it on! Share the article with the families of your students. Let’s all be smart about educating the next generation.