Sunday, December 7, 2014

Creating a Strong Math Culture-Understanding Perceptions

Creating a Strong Math Culture 
- Understanding Perceptions -
A student drawing about Math Workshop.

Perception is everything. So, how do your students perceive math in the classroom? Do students really feel like the work was too easy? Too difficult or abstract? Am I talking too much with them just listening? 

I feel that it is important to continually reflect on these questions in order to create a strong math culture, but if these answers are only coming from the teacher's point of view, it doesn't really matter much. We are in the field of education to empower and enrich students, and how they are perceiving lessons, units, and classes is what matters the most--if the perception is negative, they will be less likely to engage in and retain the information. So, before diving fully into a unit on Base Ten, I decided to have my students draw a picture entitled "My math workshop". The only directions I gave before passing out the blank paper were that students were to draw whatever came to their minds when thinking of math workshop, and that they had to draw themselves in the picture. 

I was a little nervous to see what some students would draw--would they draw themselves with smiley or sad faces? Would there be lots of colors to make a bright impression? Would they have others in the picture or does the perception of math involve isolation? I love math and teaching and was secretly hoping during the activity that everyone in the class would illustrate that same love.

 This student recalls using the "Fast Nines" strategy while adding.
The final results were really eye-opening! Many students drew themselves with suns shining in the background and smiling faces;one even had a lovely beach scene for math workshop. I wish we really could have math workshop while out in the sunshine! Another student drew themselves using different strategies with their "bff" and yet another student had themselves with Base Ten unit manipulatives while someone else in the background was laying down snoring. Not sure what that part was all about, but overall everything was invaluable feedback!  

This student focused on using the online program
This student drew himself adding with apples.

One item that was not present in most of the pictures was our math talk word wall. I'm not sure why because we recite these words everyday, so I plan on having a conversation with my students about this absence.  I also plan on repeating this activity with each new unit to see how perceptions are changing and evolving.

Happy to see that this student loves math operations!

Kid's Math Talk Tip
In order to see if there is truly a disconnection between the teacher's point of view and that of the student's, it helps for the teacher to also engage in this exercise before giving the assignment to students. This is extremely powerful--seeing is believing, but sometimes what we as adults see is completely different from what our students perceive. Just make sure that you wait until AFTER students draw their own versions to show them how you view math workshop.

Invite your students to create a "My Math Workshop" drawing this week!


  1. Thanks for sharing your info. I really appreciate your efforts and I will be waiting for your further write ups thanks once again. Math for Kids

    1. Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed. I am trying to blog more often to share my math adventures in the classroom!


Welcome to Kid's Math Talk, LLC!

Welcome to Kid's Math Talk, LLC!
My name is Desiree and I am super passionate about math education and best practices for students and their teachers. Thanks for stopping by my blog!


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