No way to sugar coat it. Today wasn't awesome. Today was Friday. I love a Friday. Not just because it is Friday but because I generally plan something a little fun and celebratory. We had focused on using doubles and near doubles to add during our number talks. I had excellent reason to believe that the kids had that strategy down. Instead of another number talk, I had planned to use number Splats with the class. A few of my students (who don't attend chorus) had been introduced to Splats the week previous. The Splats are presented using PowerPoint. My computer was operating pretty slow. As a result, the slide sorter was visible. Ideally, I would have had the Smart Board off till I was successfully in presentation mode. When I finally brought up the first slide the students should have worked independently to count the dots. Instead, a couple of kids, who had seen the answer when they had viewed the slide sorter shouted out "17" and then a few more echoed them.
I was annoyed. I had a few choices. I could have skipped this puzzle and moved to the next one. That might have been a better option. There is a good chance that they had only seen the number of dots on the first puzzle. I could have dismissed the shout outs altogether and brought in the splats and moved forward with the rest of the task. I could have closed this presentation and opened another.
I didn't do any of those things. I didn't yell. There really wasn't even any tone when I spoke to the little darlings. Maybe that is scarier. Kind of like a serial killer. Anyway, I shut it down. I calmly explained that we don't "DO" math that way. We do math to learn. We do math to expand our thinking. We do math so that everyone learns and no one is left behind. We don't shout answers. We don't shout out saying that it is "easy" and we don't yell, "done" when we're finished. I explained that as teachers we always come prepared with a few plans up our sleeves. Plan A is always the preferred pathway to learning but that there is often a plan B or C that will get us where we're going...but they're not as fun. I explained that we were going with plan B today.
The rest of our math class went just fine. The objectives were met. The math was engaging. It wasn't "Fun-Friday-Awesome." Culture is critical. I own the fact that I set us up to fail with my tech gaff. However, a handful of my students did not respect the culture we're working to establish in our math class. I needed to close down the fun. They need to see that the way we conduct business has to be centered around respect for one another, respect for the work we're doing, and respect for ourselves. I wish I could fast-forward to next Friday and be comforted by the fact that I did the right thing. I hope so!
Number Splats by Steve Wyborney (@SteveWyborney) really are awesome. Check them out if you haven't already.