One of the activities that the students have really enjoyed and I've gotten a lot of positive feedback from them on is our Estimation Station. On Monday mornings when they come into the classroom we have our estimation jar, and in it will be something that is related to whatever topic we're discussing in math. So for example, this week in the jar there are a variety of coins, and they need to estimate the amount of coin. They have a recording sheet and they're allowed one estimate or smart-guess per week. Once their estimate's been made they can't change it, no matter what someone else thinks, that's their first guess. And then on Friday, we solve the problem. So we meet as a whole group and then we discuss a variety of strategies that we're going to use to get to the problem.
Prior to the whole group lesson though, the students break off in pairs and do talking. I've paired them with level appropriate students so the vocabulary would be similar, that their partner will have the same sense of strategy that perhaps they do. So there isn't a stronger student leading a weaker student along, it's two students of equal abilities working together. What I'm finding is the vocabulary development for math has been extensive. Their understanding of strategies has also been wonderful because they come back to the carpet and then I'll select two or three or four students, to share with us what strategies they used to get their answer, which also incorporates then then a lot of language, a lot of math talk, a lot of vocabulary. And as important are the strategies, I have related that back to reading with the children a number of times, recognizing that we all can read the same book and we focus on different strategies to get to the end just like we all can read the same problem. And we may have different strategies in our tool kit to get the same answer. It's been a lot of fun.
The goal of Estimation Station: Developing Critical Thinking Skills (Virtual Tour) is to create activities for students to use complex oral language structures and share a variety of ideas and information.
- Integrated instruction is a teaching approach that connects different subjects according to a selected theme or topic.
- Integrating literacy with other curriculum areas encourages self-expression, is motivating and engaging and involves thinking critically.
- Providing students with time to discuss the problem in pairs promotes participation and engagement.