Saturday, December 1, 2012

Math as a Social Activity in French Immersion

I tend to mostly write about resources and teaching ideas that strictly pertain to learning French.  However, as a French Immersion teacher, I teach every subject from English to Science.  The French Learning Support teacher at my school once said that regardless of what subject you teach in the French Immersion program, you are a language educator FIRST.  Nothing could be closer to the truth than this statement.

One of the subjects I've consistently found challenging for students is mathematics.  Developing number concepts and understanding symbolic representions can be very difficult for some students to grasp.  I teach grades 4 and 5 students.  In mathematics, I usually assign pre-reading for one group of students while I work with the other group of students.  I also record my lessons using an app called Show Me.  I then post my videos to an incredible learning management system called Edmodo.  All videos are organized in stacks (or by chapter in my case) so that students can view the lessons at their leisure from home.

 Over the past month, we began sharing our ideas in groups and writing key points about each lesson on a sheet of paper which is posted on my math board.  I also had students model how to solve problems in class using Show Me while providing them with constructive feedback and how to improve the sharing process.

Although I have found some students feel these videos are highly beneficial to their learning, others also seem to thrive when given collaborative activities.  The video a Gifted Education Teacher and friend shared with me below (thanks Elvira!) got me thinking a step further about my math program:  Why not make math a more social activity with an emphasis on developing thoughtful questions and ideas in French?  Not only would this greatly benefit students in having a better grasp of math concepts but this would also help them develop more confidence in speaking in French!

Often in mathematics, new vocabulary is introduced to students.  I think it is important that students get as much exposure to new words in conversations and with the aid of examples.  At the intermediate level, students are introduced to more word problems, thus needing good comprehension skills in the target language to understand what process to undertake in solving a problem.

I encourage all teachers to watch this excellent video of a master teacher engaging his grade 5 students in a collaborative approach to mathematics.  I am really excited about developing this approach in my classroom in the months ahead.