After talking to a mathematics specialist in local elementary schools, I was able to connect with and meet a local fourth-grade teacher and then meet her class within the first couple of weeks of the school year.
The school uses Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s GO Math!® curriculum1 in conjunction with ThinkCentral2 and ExploreLearning Reflex® 3. The fourth-grade teachers collaboratively plan by meeting one hour during school each week. They discuss scheduling, lessons, assessments, and assessment results.
The teacher I am observing structures her 1.5 hour mathematics lesson as follows:
- Students return from lunch at noon, and find their appropriate timing sheet for multiplication or division. (The teacher has a record on the wall showing which timings they have passed off.)
- By 12:05, most students have returned from lunch and are ready for the timing. The teacher twists the face of the timer hanging on the whiteboard at the front of the class for 2 minutes. As students complete the timing, they pull a book from their desks and begin to read.
- As students work, she passes out red pens and laminated sheets with the answers to all multiplication or division timings on each sheet. Students exchange timings with an elbow partner, check them, and mark them with a check or an “x” to indicate if their classmate has passed or not.
- The teacher instructs students to return the materials. For example, “Friends nearest the window, return the red pens. Friends closest to my desk, return the score sheets. Friends closest to the door, collect the timings and put in the math basket – third one down.” She sets the timer for another minute and students scatter.
- After timings, a brief 20-minute or so lesson on the day’s topic
- After the lesson, students break into four groups for centers: Tech Time (Reflect Math), Hands-On (game on the carpet), Teacher Time, and Seat Time. Each center lasts approximately 15 minutes and the math lesson ends at 1:30.