Recently, I read an amazing book–Small Steps, Big Changes: Eight Essential Practices for Transforming Schools Through Mathematics. Chapter 1, Keep the End in Mind, explains that for our instruction to be truly effective, we must define what success looks like. They set the following goals for their students:
- Think and reason effectively
- Solve problems accurately, flexibly, and efficiently
- Communicate clearly using mathematical language and representations
- Demonstrate skills and knowledge on performance assessments as well as standardized tests
I love this set of goals because it brings focus to our work as teachers. Think how powerful it would be if we kept our eye on these goals as we chose resources, planned activities, and developed assessments.
So it was with this small step in mind that I created Capture Four. As a teacher, I love game concepts that can be used for different skills like, for instance, War. All kids know how to play War, so you don’t have to waste time teaching them how to play it. My idea for this type of reusable game is Capture Four. The object of the game is to capture 4 spaces in a row horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. For this very simple version, players roll a number cube (with dots representing the numbers) and cover a space on the board that shows the number they rolled. There is strategy involved because players have a choice of which space to cover.
So what does this have to do with the goals I listed at the top of the post? Well, think about it. Are the kiddos demonstrating a skill? Certainly. But, because of the strategy involved in practicing the skill, they are also thinking, reasoning, and problem solving. Add a discussion time to the end of the class period to have students share their strategies, and you bring in the communication piece.
I hope this post causes you to stop and think about your math instruction this week. As the title suggests, setting clear goals and keeping the end in mind is indeed a small step, but one that is capable of producing big changes! Click here to grab your freebie, and have a great week!