October 17, 2021

EPISODE 7: WOKE MATH

Speaker 0 00:00:00 Greetings and salutations and welcome to revoke rewriting our kids’ education. My name is Michelle person and we are on a journey. We are rethinking re-examining and re-educating ourselves and our children. Last week, we talked about the importance of woke writing instruction. And this week we are going to shift a little and talk about math. I hate math, simple mental map. Almost always has an error in it when it’s my mental capacity doing the calculations. Ironically, even though I hate math as an individual, I’m actually a pretty phenomenal math teacher up until about fifth grade. It is my belief that when you have to teach something that you are not great at, it actually forces you to become a better teacher. You know, exactly how to break down the lesson. What, what pitfalls to look for, because you know what you struggle with. It’s really important to me that my students understand the reason behind the steps that I’m trying to teach, because I know that they understand the concept. Now they will be able to apply it later. As the math gets more difficult. Stacy McDaniels is our guest today, and she has been doing this work of explaining math and breaking it down with diverse learners for over two decades. American mathematician, William Paul Thurston said mathematics is not about numbers, equations, computations, or algorithms. It’s about understanding. So how are we making sure that our children understand? Are you okay?

Speaker 0 00:02:04 It is my experience that in the early grades, students enjoy math as any kindergartner or first grader, what their favorite subject is. And you might be surprised that you will hear math almost as often as you were here, reading or science, but then around third or fourth grade, something changes. Math stops being fun, and it starts being scary. And what do we do with scary things? We avoid them at all costs. The educator in me understands why math is like a puzzle, a puzzle that up until third grade has very specific rules and it makes it easy to figure out. There is one way to make numbers bigger edition. There’s one way to make numbers, smaller subtraction, all math problems. Follow a simple sequence. A plus B equals C fraction still makes sense. There are halves, thirds and fourths. That’s it shapes are flat. You measure with a ruler and you measure everything in inches.

Speaker 0 00:03:07 All of this begins to change. And third grade multiplication can also make numbers. Bigger. Division can also make numbers. Smaller math problems might have missing numbers on either side of the equation. Combining fractions with different denominators is introduced and shapes go from being simple and flat to being three dimensional. And when you measure with them, you might measure an, a different measurement. And then that measurement has to be converted. Think about it. If you are already academically one to two years behind in school, and typically our black and brown students are adding all those extra steps and rules. It is easy to see how that might be overwhelming for a student. They shut down. Math becomes something to avoid at all costs. And it’s unfortunate because on average careers that require solid math skills pay significantly more than those base in the soft sciences or in literature.

Speaker 0 00:04:10 So how do we create learning environments that encourage our babies to explore persists and Excel in math? Our guest today is Stacy McDaniel, a universal design learning coach and educational consultant at the ESC of lake Erie, west Stacy McDaniels. Thank you so much for agreeing to chat with us today. How are you? I’m doing well. How are you? I’m doing really good. I cannot say enough. Great things about Stacy and her level of expertise when it comes to math instruction. Um, before we jump into your look-fors and your tips for today, can you tell the listeners, what is your background? How did you, how long, what have you been doing? How long have you been doing it? Tell us, um, tell us about your expertise.

Speaker 2 00:04:55 Okay. Well, this is my fifth year in education and I think it’s my 18th year as an administrator. Um, my story started, uh, years ago, I guess. Um, I was the student that nobody wanted it in the classroom. I was, you know, very hyper, very, um, you know, I was the kid that was in second grade. I was put in the corner of the room and the teacher put a bookshelf in front of me and cornered me back there because I was just such a busy body. I couldn’t, uh, stay focused. I, I got kicked out of the classroom all the time. I had, you know, back in those days, they would actually put masking tape on your mouth. Um, I was, I was that kid. Then in fifth grade, I had, I had this teacher who really took me under her wing and was trying to teach.

Speaker 2 00:05:44 She had just gotten her doctorate in, um, reading education and, uh, wanted to help me learn to read. And so she worked with me off and on, uh, you know, throughout the year. And then, um, in high school, I ended up being one of those students who had to take reading throughout high school, because I was so far behind. I went from that kid to graduating fifth of my class, although it was a small school, I will say that, uh, we had 95 in our graduating class, but, you know, it was, uh, it was a struggle to climb to the top, started teaching. And I was like, oh, I don’t know if I like this. I don’t want maybe this isn’t my thing. You know, I was, I, the one school I was at, they, they didn’t like my ways I was having kids take pretzel sticks and build perimeter, um, using non-standard units.

Speaker 2 00:06:35 And, um, we were doing chants and cheers and I did, I made up a division slide and it goes to the song, the electric slide and kids were learning to do division that way. And, um, we were doing all these cool things and our, my scores were through the roof, but they didn’t like the kids were out of their seats. They wanted them in the rows that they had set up. And, um, they would allow like groupings, but they wanted a lot more structured than what I had offer. And they basically tried to counsel me out of education. I, I thought I was doing a good thing. I mean, I had to put a poster up on the door, on the window slot. So they couldn’t see at lunchtime that I was working with kids because I would get in trouble with it. I’m

Speaker 0 00:07:21 Gonna stop you right there because I want our parents to understand, like all the things that you’re talking about, we talk all the time on this show about, um, being woke and what it means in education and how really, what that means is just going against traditional education and, and trying to find ways in which to reach kids that are on Orthodox that had them connect. And what you’re describing right now are all the things that are woke teacher does. And so, and what it sounds like is it comes from a very authentic place for you because it’s, what if you had had, when you were in school, you might’ve liked school. More like that’s a great buy soul. So parents, I hope you, the thing that she was just talking about doing, um, getting the kids out their seat, um, you know, making, using manipulatives, using the pretzel rods, spending her time on, um, on her, on her lunch break to, to give kids extra help.

Speaker 0 00:08:10 Those are all the, those are all looking for when you’re looking for, um, for what does it mean to do things differently or be woke in traditional education? So can you speak a little bit about, um, the top three things that you do in your classroom, especially when you’re working with a group of diverse learners, primarily black and brown students. What, what have you found in your 25 years in education? And I know a lot of your time has been working as a math coach in the different, um, and different, um, arenas and different schools that you’ve worked at. What do you coach teachers about doing, what do you do when you’re actually in front of them? The top three things that you think makes the most impact?

Speaker 2 00:08:51 So TEC teacher, um, uh, environment and then the curriculum or the sequencing of the actual lessons. So when I work with teachers, um, we work on like three things. So first, you know, concrete, representational, abstract, it’s a model. And, and, you know, designing units from that very concrete, the manipulative state, where kids are moving things around, and it doesn’t even matter whether you’re talking a kindergartner or, you know, a junior high student. Um, I have junior high students where we take a triangle and we tear the corners off and we rotate those corners together. And, and it magically, magically makes a 180 degree line. And they’re like blown away. Like, let’s not just memorize. If there’s 180 degrees on a triangle, let’s see it, let’s manipulate those things. And so like, you know, that’s the concrete stage. And then we go to the representational where kids are using tally marks and, and number lines and drawings represent their thinking, um, because they’re moving away from those manipulatives.

Speaker 2 00:10:05 And so this is like the semi concrete stage. And then graduating then to the abstract level, which I find most teachers. I mean, this is the way you and I learned is, you know, boys, girls say, we’re gonna learn subtraction with regrouping. Okay. First thing you do, if the top number is smaller than the bottom number, you’re going to cross, you’re gonna go to the 10 spot and you’re gonna cross it out. Like we, we give them rules and symbols and it doesn’t mean anything, but why does that happen? Um, and so starting with that representation of the concrete, where you can see the manipulatives and you can literally regroup with the base 10 blocks, um, or tokens or whatever you’re using, and then graduate them to something representational where they’re starting to see it on a number line, um, or with telling marks or whatever. And then, and then actually the, um, abstract, because the goal is, if they forget a rule, they should be able to reinvent it. They should be able to backtrack and go, oh yeah, this sounds right. Or this looks right, because the other thing is, kids will get answers and they don’t even understand. They don’t even realize that the wrong, because they don’t have any, they don’t have enough number sense to even realize

Speaker 0 00:11:18 That feel like the, like when a kid, when you teach a kid. And the best example of that is when you teach your kids attraction and they think they’re following the rules, but they come to a number where the bigger number, where the smaller number is on top bigger numbers on the bottom, they will immediately, um, they will add, they will subtract the number on the bottom from the number on the top and be like, well, as subtract it, not understanding conceptually from a concrete level, that that’s impossible. You can’t do that. And so that’s when you have to recognize that you have to go back and teach those concrete skills. So listeners, I hope you, I hope that the, what you took away from that is that you should be looking to see that before your child’s teacher begins teaching abstract concepts, subtracting with regrouping, or that they’re 180 degrees in a triangle that your kid is first coming home, talking to you about the manipulatives they used in the school.

Speaker 0 00:12:09 Um, the, the games they played to learn concepts, and then they’re learning, uh, parentheses, um, uh, you know, <inaudible>, you know, then they’re learning like, please, excuse my dear aunt Sally, you shouldn’t start learning the order of operations by saying, Hey, class here’s please. Excuse my dear aunt Sally. Let’s go like, there’s no conceptual understanding there. And if they, and if they don’t memorize the please, excuse my dear aunt Sally, the right way, they’re going to make mistakes. And they won’t even know they’ve made a mistake because they have no idea really what they’re doing. So understanding

Speaker 2 00:12:43 That’s yes, that’s a good example. Yep. Um, so then the other two things real quick for the teacher is student engagement. Are we getting kids out of their seats and moving, you know, manipulating things, moving, talking, um, et cetera, and then making data informed decisions. So those are the three things that the teacher has to do, uh, for environment. We need environments where kids, um, there’s great relationships between students and teacher, um, and a positive working environment. Kids are, they don’t mind taking risks. They feel safe. They’re not gonna get made fun of if they’re incorrect, you know? Um, and then the curriculum. And when I say curriculum, I don’t mean the textbook. I mean, the, what, what you’re teaching, um, the order in which you teach it, it doesn’t truly matter what book you’re using, what the teacher brings to the table is 10 times more important than when then whether you adopted, you know, facts versus everyday math. Yeah. It’s exactly it. That doesn’t matter. So it’s not the most important

Speaker 0 00:13:48 Thing. Yeah. So make sure parents that you’re looking for teachers who are supplementing, um, their, their child’s learning with additional resources. Um, because again, like I used to always tell my teachers, the curriculum is not your Bible. The standards are your Bible, the skills that their needs that they need to understand. That’s your Bible, what you use to access those standards, or how, how you choose to impart that’s up to you. You can use what we use. You can, you can use whatever. Um, as long as you understand that your goal is to make sure that the standard is, is understood. And not that what we did page 65. Um, so do you make sure parents make sure it and teachers make sure that you’re, you’re bringing, um, things in up supplemental resources and great supplemental resources on, uh, just like me presents, remember through rhyme. Um, but that taught you some of these things, these songs, these games that, you know, Stacy has mentioning, um, you can use those in the classroom, um, because they work, you know, kids like to move, they like to sing. They like to work together like they work and it makes the math more fun. Um, and it makes it more engaging. Um, Stacy, can you talk to us a little bit about resources for parents at home that, that you can recommend? What, what do you recommend are, and we always like free. Is there anything free?

Speaker 2 00:15:04 Um, there, there are. Um, so there are two resources. One is Bri math apps and it’s at math learning center.org. Then you just click on apps, there’s everything from virtual base, 10 blocks to, um, manipulatives for fractions. Like there are so many free, so it’s kind of like a smart board, except it’s this website and you just click on whatever, um, um, manipulative you want and, you know, 10 frames frames, five frames, 20 frames, I’ve got, they have it all. So, um, it’s an incredible resource, completely free. And then the other one, uh, for Ohio people, uh, open space has a bunch of what it’s designed for teachers, but there’s also, um, parents could go in, there’s a parent section and it’s lessons on specific. So you can put in like the standard and the grade level and pull up specific lessons. Um, that website is Ohio space. I’m sorry, open-space dot info, ohio.org.

Speaker 0 00:16:14 And you don’t have to be in Ohio. You can be in Pennsylvania or since, uh, let’s say Cincinnati that’s actually in Ohio. You could be in, you could be in Florida. It doesn’t like that’s the beautiful part about the internet is you can be wherever. And I, as a teacher, I mean, as an administrator, I would always, Florida has some of the best test prep questions out there. And so I would always tell my teachers now go on the Florida state website and pull all their stuff and use it in your classroom. So you don’t actually have to say New York or in New York, they have great test prep, test prep questions. Um, do you have any, um, suggestions for things that parents should be doing at home, um, to support in, in class learning?

Speaker 2 00:16:55 Well, when it comes to math, one of the challenges is, um, you know, they call it the new math. You know, parents are like, well, I didn’t learn it this way. I learned it this way. And, you know, just taking the time to explore the method, there’s actually a lot of, um, good reasons behind why math is being done the way it is currently being done. Um, you know, we, you know, um, Michelle, I’m looking at you our age group, I’m a lot older than you though. You know, adults nowadays, it’s very common to run into people that aren’t math literate, right. And it’s very, our society society accepts that it’s okay to not be, to be good at math. We want students to be able to make sense of what they’re doing and when they get a wrong answer, they understand, or they can approximate have mental math skills and they can approximate, you know, things that comes by, you know, good math practices and by using number lines and things like that, that’s the intent.

Speaker 2 00:18:01 And nowadays I find so like, I would say 80% of the teachers are still not fully trained those alternate methods that teachers tend to skip, they’re designed to bridge the gap. And most of them in the CRA ma method that I was talking about earlier, most of them actually fall in that representational stage using number lines, um, using, you know, drawings, they have kids draw things and cross them out and all that. So the, you know, that’s the stage that teachers tend to skip. Cause we don’t, we did not learn that way. And so that’s, um, you know, so for parents just being patient and trying to learn that strategy, I mean, if, if the only strategy, you know, is the one that you learned, that’s fine, you know, great. But you know, being can continuing to encourage your child, that it is important to learn those other strategies because they’re the backup strategies and they will help them get to the traditional way.

Speaker 0 00:18:58 Well, maybe the most powerful thing that a parent can do is be open, be open to learning in a different way, um, and have your child explain to you the new way and see if you guys can figure it out together. That way you’re not, um, stopping them from learning the, the concrete representational way that the, which is the focus and the point of the new math, um, so that they can get to understanding it the way you were taught. Um, that affair that

Speaker 2 00:19:27 A fair assessment, real quick example, one, you know, like we teach front end edition and parents are like, well, this is silly. You always start at the back, you know, in the ones column, but do you really start the ones column? Because when I’m at the grocery store, I don’t sit there and started the ones column. Right. I start at, you know, if I see something for a hundred dollars and another thing for, you know, something for 115 and something else for 295, I start with the ones calling them. Right. Cause I need to know, oh, this is 300, oh, I’m going to have to regroup. It’s actually going to be 400. We actually do that in the, in the real world. But we, but, and that’s what front end addition is supposed to help them to develop the number sentence for addition, so that when they are in the supermarket or, or buying cars or whatever, they can add numbers together efficiently starting with that first number so that they can approximate things easier.

Speaker 0 00:20:25 So it’s going to look really, it’s going to be like really different than what you’re used to, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. So just keep an open mind, just keeping awesome. Stacy. I want to thank you so much for being here today. I think that you gave a lot of, a lot of insight on what, um, match it looked like in a woke classroom and some great resources and some great tips. So we really, you stopping by, thank you so much, parents. I hope you got a lot out of that interview educators. I hope you picked up some great tips and some techniques that you can use in your classroom when you’re designing your upcoming math lessons, making sure it’s an engage, the student, making sure that they understand at a concrete level, giving them things to manipulate, allowing opportunities to move and think about what’s going on before you introduce the abstract rules.

Speaker 0 00:21:19 Those are all important things that you have to make sure you’re doing. If you really want to create students who love math, show notes and resources to all the awesome things they see mentioned can be found on our website, www dot just like me, presents.com hop on over to our Facebook page, join them, but just like me presents group and tell us which tip you found the most helpful. And if there’s a question that you still have, that you would like to ask, please make sure that you put it there and we will get it answered for you. Share this podcast with other parents or educators in your circle and make sure you hit subscribe. So you never miss an episode. Thank you again to Stacy McDaniel for stopping by to chat with us, join us next week. But we will be talking about woke science instruction. Some classes are all the rage right now, but we know that science instruction often is not taught at the level that we needed to be in our classrooms for our black and brown students. How do we change that? Join us next week. And we’ll talk about it. Thanks for listening.

Speaker 1 00:22:19 If our children can see it, they can achieve it.

Speaker 0 00:22:25 Are you frustrated with traditional education? I was educators. Are you struggling to find inclusive academic content that represents your students? I know the feeling that is why I created just like me presents just like me presents is a multimedia production and development company that stresses the importance of literacy, culturally relevant teaching materials and active learning experiences. Check out our culturally responsive books and supplemental curriculums on our website. Www just like me presents.com and the just like me book. And just like me pick sections. Your child will be amazed at how many books they can choose from where the characters look like them. They’ve never had math explained the way we do with remember through rhyme and I can guarantee the history we share. And meanwhile, an Africa isn’t taught in any traditional public school. Let us help you get the tools you need to rewrite your child’s education and set them on a path to success. If you have a child in kindergarten through fifth grade, trust me, you’ll want to check us out. I think you’re going to love our programs and the long lasting positive impact they have on your child. Our programs help students develop a strong sense of self of from their identities and encourage critical thinking and entrepreneurship skills. Head on over to the website. Now at www just like me, presents.com and help empower your child to become the best version of themselves. And remember if our children can see it, they can achieve it.

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