As the days of summer vacation start to dwindle down I cannot help but begin to alter my focus to the upcoming school year and begin my gradual shift back into teacher mode. This inevitably leads to planning (or thoughts of, at the very least). Having taken two professional development sessions over the vacation pertaining to reading and writing workshop, I am feeling excited and energized to get started with some general planning. One thing I am choosing to focus on in my balanced literacy program next year is the “celebration” aspect when closing out a unit. The celebration is a great way for the children to reflect on the learning and accomplishments that took place throughout the unit, it also provides children with closure and a positive transition to the next unit of study. This got me thinking about how this can be replicated in math instruction as well. In fact, it can serve the exact same function it does for our literacy block. While the type of celebration will vary the idea behind its purpose remains the same: to celebrate the learning and growth that took place during the unit. A great way to do this is to end with a culminating project that includes the content covered. For example, if your classroom is wrapping up the unit on composing and decomposing numbers 1 through 10 your students might work on creating a class book where each child creates a page for the book illustrating a way to compose and decompose a specific number. Kids can be paired up in groups and given a number for a more strategic way of targeting levels and/or needs. There are many different ways this could be done but the main point is that the students create something; whether it be individually, small group, partners or whole group that can be shared and help them to reflect on their learning while celebrating the end of the unit. Particularly at this age, I feel like this strategy could be for more powerful than a test or more formative assessment. However, depending on your school or district requirements you may consider the celebration project as simply another way to assess your students at the end of a unit and help inform your instruction as you move forward. As you begin your unit planning for next year for math keep in mind ways in which you can celebrate the end of each unit and purposefully build those celebrations into your teaching. You might be surprised that you will start to look forward to those days as much as the kids!
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