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Michael Wendler, a teacher in Ottawa, Ontario, is also playing with “Smart Bansho”. Eager to learn more, Dale and I recently checked out his video on the 3-part lesson. Granted, his class appears to be almost exclusively native English speakers (although one student communicates by ASL, via interpreter), however, it is still clearly a “real” classroom, and Wendler is a real teacher, not a consultant, coach or guest speaker.
One gets the sense that he really enjoys teaching and has a great rapport with his students. The problem he presents to his students in the snippet below is based on a video game the kids are familiar with; he engages the students with material that they know.
- The IWB seems to be used mainly as a presentation and teaching tool (the students are not really seen using it)
- Students voluntarily use and explain their thinking about a variety of strategies; it’s clear they’ve been raised in a classroom that values student thinking and risk taking
- Like in my own classroom, students work wherever they feel comfortable, not necessarily at their desks
- During the middle part of the lesson, when students are working on the problem, Wendler circulates, paraphrasing some answers, nudging others to expand their explanation (“how are you adding?”)
- All students interviewed on the video speak articulately about things like friendlier numbers, expanded form and a “splitting” strategy; they use the language of elementary mathematics
- Consolidation phase appears to happen after a break; the student solutions are clustered into like strategies and posted to either side of the IWB (The three groups include all the people who used pictures, all those who used splitting strategy, those who used more traditional methods)
- At the end of the lesson, during the consolidation/debrief phase, Wendler focuses the students’ attention to one cluster of solutions, and asks students to consider what these samples had in common. In this way, he is able to guide the students towards the intended mathematical outcome of his lesson.
- Like in all successful classrooms, Classroom management plays a key role: Wendler's students knew when it was time to talk and when to stop talking because he had trained them like Pavlov’s dogs, with the use of a signal
I also have some reflections, which I drew from my observations above, and will share these in a subsequent blog post.
Seeing a lesson in action is such a valuable form of professional learning, and unfortunately, not all teachers have the luxury that Dale and I have had these past 12 months, of watching others try their hand at this sort of math. We are most appreciative of colleagues like Michael Wendler, who are brave enough to invite others into theirclassrooms virtually, by creating and posting a video like this one.
Thanks, Mr. Wendler!