Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Workshop 7

Cultivating Connections
Outside the Classroom

About the Workshop

Beyond the walls of the classroom exists a wealth of resources to support math and science teaching and learning. School, parents, neighborhood, community, Internet, and beyond provide numerous opportunities for teachers to make connections between classroom education and the real world. In this workshop, we will explore ways that teachers can cultivate these connections, both by bringing the classroom into the community and the community into the classroom.

The Great Bean Bag Adventure

In our fifth experiment,we investigated which parts of a seed—seed coat, seed leaves, or plant embryo—are necessary for a seed to sprout.

What we used:

7 plastic baggies
14 paper towels
21 lima beans (soaked overnight)
utility knife (or other tool for "dissecting" beans)

What we did:
Folded and placed two paper towels in each baggie. Added water to each baggie to moisten the towels. Labeled and prepared the baggies as follows:

  1. Whole seed (control)
  2. Seed minus seed coat
  3. Seed minus seed leaves
  4. Seed minus plant embryo
  5. Seed coat only
  6. Seed leaves only
  7. Plant embryo only
  1. 3 beans
  2. 3 beans without seed coat
  3. 3 beans without seed leaves
  4. 3 beans without plant embryo
  5. seed coats from 3 beans
  6. seed leaves from 3 beans
  7. plant embryo from 3 beans

Getting Ready (15 min. each)

  1. Share with your colleagues the positive and negative experiences that you thought about for your homework. Generate a group list of successful and unsuccessful field trips, classroom visitors, and other community connections.
  2. Examine the two lists. Can you draw any generalizations from your experiences? What characterizes a good community connection? What characterizes a bad one?

Site Conversation 1 (5 min.)

Michelle suggests establishing a school cooperative by polling teachers about community resources they have used. How might you do research to find some of the less obvious resources in your community? What are some ways you could share and exchange these resources with other teachers in your school and/or district?

Site Conversation 2 (5 min.)

What are some of the advantages of involving parents in students' mathematics education? What are some of the challenges?

Going Further (15 min. each)

  1. We've talked a lot about bringing the community into the classroom, but what can you do to make your classroom part of the surrounding community? How can you move from simply taking resources from your community, to giving, and establishing your classroom as a integral part of the community? What are the advantages of involving your classroom in the community? Are there any disadvantages?
  2. The Great Bean Bag Adventure is a variation on a investigation into seed growth that elementary teachers have been doing with their classes for years. Think about ways that you might involve parents in a bean-science investigation. How might you involve other people or organizations in your community? Discuss ways that you could extend a bean experiment beyond the walls of the classroom. If you have tried this in the past, share your experience, and comment upon what worked and what didn't work.

Homework for Workshop 8

Think back on the topics we have covered in this workshop series, and choose one specific "next move" that you will try to make in your classroom. Write about your next move. Are you going to do something differently than you've done it in the past? Are you going to try something completely new? How will your next move help you progress toward a more student-centered classroom? Bring your notes with you to Workshop 8, and be prepared to share your next move with a partner.



Math on the Move

Suggested Grade Level: K-5

Suggested activities to send home to engage children in everyday math experiences outside of school, such as when traveling in a vehicle.


What you need

Design a letter/worksheet to send home to parents/guardians with activities they can do with their children. (See examples below.)


What to do

Search for numbers . . .

The next time you travel with your children, create a list of numbers from 1-50. Each time you and your children locate a number on a vehicle, sign, or building, make a note of it on your list beside the corresponding number. Younger children can write the actual number each time they see it; older children can keep track with check marks or tick marks. Be sure to look for, and write down, words that have numbers in them, such as "three-hour dry cleaning," "Interstate 90," or "one-stop shopping."

This is great fun for children of all ages, and particularly helpful for young children to learn and recognize numbers.


Search for patterns and shapes . . .

When traveling in a vehicle, have children look out the window to look for specific shapes such as rectangles (buildings and windows), triangles (signs and girders), circles (wheels and rotaries), and cylinders (silos and garbage cans).

Children also can look for patterns in their environment such as in street lights, telephone and fence poles, and train tracks. Have children look for design elements that repeat or other types of repetition and symmetry.

Recognizing shapes and patterns help children connect math to the real world.


License plate math . . .

Use license plates to encourage math. For example, copy down a license plate. Cross out all the letters and read it as a number. For example, if the license is 863KD621, the number would be read, eight hundred sixty-three thousand, six-hundred and twenty-one. Read the number of other license plates. Is the number less than, greater than, or equal to the first?

Try problem solving using the numbers in a license plate. For example, if you use the license plate 863KD621, use the numbers on the plate to:

Make a 1 using two numbers. Possible answer: 3-2=1

Make a 1 using three numbers. Possible answer: 6-(3+2)=1

Make a 1 using four numbers. Possible answer: (6+6)-8-3=1

Make a 1 using five numbers. Possible answer: 3-[(6+6)-8-2]=1

These activities encourage reading, recognizing numbers, writing, counting, and problem solving.

Adapted from, "Math on the go"
US Department of Education

One connection to the Standards

Standard 6: Number Sense and Numeration

In grades K-4, the mathematics curriculum should include whole number concepts and skills so that students can --

  • construct number meanings through real-world experiences and the use of physical materials;
  • understand our numeration system by relating counting, grouping and place-value concepts;
  • develop number sense;
  • interpret the multiple uses of numbers encountered in the real world.
  • Emphasizing exploratory experiences with numbers that capitalize on the natural insights of children enhances their sense of mathematical competency, enables them to extend number relationships, and helps them to develop a link between their world and the world of mathematics."

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, (NCTM). 1989. Curriculum and evaluation standards for school mathematics. Reston, VA: The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (pg. 38)


Series Overview
Workshop Synopses
About the Contributors
Workshop Components
More Workshop Components
Helpful Hints for Successful Site Investigations
The Great Bean Bag Adventure
Invitation to Interact
Featured Teachers:
–  Classroom Clips
–  Conversations
Workshop 1
Workshop 2
Workshop 3
Workshop 4
Workshop 5
Workshop 6
Workshop 7
Workshop 8
Suggested Teaching Resources


Workshop Materials Home | Next Move Home


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