Blogs I Love Math Literature Freebies About Home

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Virtual Math Class: Main Lesson

Thanks for the excellent feedback on part 1 of this series which was all about virtual math class warm up!  I love reading all your messages on Instagram and Facebook about how you are using these ideas! Even when you are teaching remotely, it is important to include a warm up to reinforce important concepts, build community and work on positive mathematical mindset.  

Today we are going to talk more about main lesson.  During "distance learning" or when you have to teach virtually in a fully remote or hybrid model, main lesson serves the same purpose it does when you teach in person.  Main lesson is the time for kids to dig into new to them content and practice new ideas.  It is a time for teachers to help connect the dots on students' strategies and help them build their new understanding on top of their old understanding by helping them connect what they know to what they are learning.  

Here are some things to keep in mind when you are teaching new content in a virtual math class.

Keep it Short!

You are going to have less instructional time this year, there is no way around it.  That means you can't do everything in your math program!  You have to know what topics give you the most bang for your buck.  

-Our math program (Bridges) put out a pretty complete set of program recommendations about what to skip if time is an issue and what is most important.  I have heard of several other math programs that have done something similar.  It is a good place to start to check out your math program.

-Your district or school might also have made some recommendations about what topics are most important from a curriculum standpoint.  If this has happened it is a great place to start.  If it hasn't happened, it is a great thing to do with a group of colleagues because when doing work like this two heads are always better than one!

-If you need more guidance getting started with this check out the content focus documents from Achieve the Core or the high leverage concepts from All Learner's Network

Choose Problems Wisely

You have narrowed down your curriculum to the big ideas for your grade level.  Now it is time to teach new concepts.... ready to lecture over Zoom?  No!  There is a better way.

-Start with a problem in context.  Providing a problem in the context of a story gives kids an opportunity to use what they already know to solve a new problem.  Start with a problem and see what THEY can do.  Provide or suggest a virtual manipulative if you think it might support their understanding.
-Have kids share their solutions and strategies.
-Your job is to connect kids' strategies to each other and to help them figure out which strategy is most efficient.  
-By letting kids share strategies you support their fluency and flexibility and help them understand how what they are learning today connects to what they  have learned before.

Guided Practice

You have posed a problem or 2, allowed kids to solve, discuss and connect.  Now it is time to assign some practice.  

- Continue to be selective!  Kids do not need 20 practice problems!
- Try a gradual release.  Give one more problem, have kids show you or submit their answer to you and then leave the call once you have seen it/reviewed it.  Provide support to those who need it who are still on the call.
- Need to do one more with support?  If kids are still on the call stick around for one more problem if they need it.

Have a plan for Small Groups

One small group just happened!  By providing kids with a gradual release from Zoom, you already have had one opportunity to work with a small group.  Now it is time to think about what other opportunities fit into your digital life for meeting with small groups.  Office hours?  Scheduled calls with small groups?  

Use Tech Wisely
Doing a main lesson virtual math lesson like this and covering new content online means you have to have a commanding understanding of different technology.  Many teachers have been learning new technology at lightning speed and many of you now possess the skills to do all these things in your virtual classes.  If you don't know how to do some of these things, I find the easiest way to learn is often to Google it.  I usually can find articles and videos and learn a new tech trick in just a few minutes by just searching for what I want to learn how to do.  

More Help!

Stop spending your evenings and weekends scouring Pinterest for ready-to-go math activities! Find time saving and money saving solutions in our Spring Math Bundles, on sale for a limited time!