Anybody who spends time with children knows the beauty of witnessing the moment when a discovery is made and an understanding is formed. Today, during a visit to 3rd grade, I was treated to one of those special experiences.
During the lesson, the teacher asked an open-ended question that prompted the students to make observations about the concept of place value. First, they shared what they noticed with partners and then with tablemates before expressing ideas to whole group. As students listened to each other’s observations, they began to develop insights founded upon previous comments. Instead of being the recipients of knowledge they were actively constructing meaning and deepening their understanding.
Toward the end of the lesson, a key observation was made about the iterative relationship of 10 between each place value. For example, ten ones becomes ten, ten groups of ten becomes one hundred, ten groups of one hundred becomes one thousand, etc. By prompting children to think, engage their minds and build meaning, it was incredible to see them “discover” that we use a base ten numeral system.
But, that wasn’t even the best part.
The highlight for me was that as the observation was being shared, I happened to look over at a student who was intently listening as the concept unfolded. When she recognized the pattern, her jaw fell open, her eyes widened and – I kid you not – she uttered under her breath, “That is awesome.”
Our goal is to provide the children at BFIS with exactly this type of mathematic experience on a regular basis. We have been working as a faculty since early last year on how to help children construct a strong conceptual understanding of mathematics in the elementary years. Our current faculty development with visiting math consultant Dr. Monica Neagoy is providing us with yet another layer of insight and expertise to continue moving in this direction.
Last, here is an example of a simple activity designed to help children strengthen their number sense by recognizing the relationship between numbers. The opportunity to break apart and reconstruct numbers in different ways allows children to develop connections, see patterns and become flexible mathematical thinkers who see multiple ways to solve problems. This ability is absolutely essential for higher level mathematics and higher order thinking tasks.
quick note to say thank you to all the parents who were able to attend last week’s Elementary School Open House. It was a wonderful opportunity for the faculty to share more information about the educational program and hear some of the thoughts and questions of parents in return.
We are already looking forward to our fall conferences next month, which is another important time for us to come together. We have moved the conferences to late October as opposed to holding them in early November based on feedback from many parents who expressed an interest in meeting with teachers earlier in the school year. We believe the shift in timing will be mutually beneficial and appreciate those who shared feedback to help us consider how we could improve to best support families.
Over the past two weeks, the elementary faculty has been extremely fortunate to learn from Dr. Joyce Pickering and Ms. Nancy Coffman. These two educators, both visiting from the Shelton School in Dallas, Texas, have been collaborating with the faculty to share their wealth of knowledge and experience. Specifically, their awareness of how to support children with learning differences has been incredibly insightful.
One of the highlights thus far was participating in a 20-hour workshop led by Dr. Pickering. In addition to building a deeper understanding of learning differences, the sessions also included training with a program designed to support language and literacy development in English. The other faculty members who completed the workshop included our Learning Support teachers, EAL (English as an Additional Language) teachers and Ms. Delgado, allowing us to establish common understandings.
Dr. Pickering and Ms. Coffman will be with us one more week before returning to the United States. Fortunately, they will return in January and again in the spring. We are very grateful for their contribution toward our ongoing commitment to school improvement.
This past Sunday marked the formal beginning of new staff orientation at BFIS and that means the year is officially under way! We are extremely fortunate to have an outstanding group of caring, passionate and talented educators joining our faculty in the coming year. Collectively, they bring a wealth of experience from a broad array of backgrounds that will be an immeasurable gift to the community.
After a summer of sending ideas back and forth through emails and chats about professional literature being read or new strategies we were learning in different workshops, we are excited to come together as a faculty and get the year started. Little by little, boxes are being unpacked, tables are being arranged, classroom libraries are getting organized and the voices of teachers are filling what was recently a quiet space. In a little over two weeks, the children will arrive and at last the campus will feel complete.
Dear BFIS Community,
Welcome to the Elementary School Blog for the Benjamin Franklin International School. We are excited to have another venue to highlight the amazing and memorable learning experiences taking place within the Elementary School.
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