April 15, 2017
Teachers Talk - Math with Mrs. Matiko
Joan Matiko, Teacher, Peace Hills Adventist School, Wetaskiwin, AB

“Can I do some more questions using those signs?”  Who can say no to those words coming out of the mouth of one of your grade two students when you have spent the week teaching the greater than and less than signs?  Math is fun in our multi-grade classroom and here are six ideas that help us enjoy our math time together.
  1. Math journals: Here we do our curriculum work. The past few weeks have been numeracy: so whether the grade ones are doing one more/two more than, the grade twos are doing greater than and less than, the grade threes are doing place value or the grade fours are doing decimals/fractions tenths and hundredths they are all treated the same. Their work is taught (yes, on the chalkboard), then five questions are written on the board for each grade to do in their math journals. The final day of the week is a review and they get to choose how they can show me what they learned that week.
  2. Math office: Last year, for the first time, I used file folders to create a math office for the students to have reference materials in one handy location; I don’t know where I have been that I was not even aware of this wonderful tool.  In the file folder, I included such things as days/months of the year, money and their equivalents, number and word matching, addition and subtraction facts (grades 1-2), multiplication and division facts (grades 3-4), geometry shapes with their names, volume and measurement equivalents. We glued these onto file folders and then I laminated them. I have been impressed with how these simple folders helped my students become independent learners during math time! They very quickly wanted them again this year so I was glad I had not sent them home.
  3. Daily Math Practice: These are a set of marvelous books that have five questions for each day of the week.  The books include a review for the basic math curriculum they have learned or need to know.
  4. Yes, I also use technology support: Mathletics has been used for five years in our school, and is very versatile and an excellent resource for math support, if you have access to computers as a part of your math class. My class is often interrupted with the words….”I have a certificate you need to print off, Mrs. Matiko!” and the question, “Who wants to “verse” me?”
  5. Weekly estimating: One day of every week, when the students come into class, they see a container on my desk and they need to guess either how many objects are in the container or how much the container weighs.  The closest student, without going over, wins the prize.  They post their guess on the Smartboard and, just before the close of math class, we count or weigh the object to see who the winner is. Their estimation skills have improved a lot.
  6. Store and Money: This year, we set up a section in the classroom where we have a store, and my students like to play with the money and spend it to buy things.   We have also used Chatterpix to take pictures, and then explain how much money we have counted out. One of the students favourite activities this year was when I brought in some weekly flyers and they “bought” three items from the flyer, had to calculate the cost, get me the money to pay for the items, and then I gave them change.  One of my grade four boys was happy because he was going to buy some “man” things and used the Rona flyer!
We love math, and I hope that what has been successful for my students and my classroom can be helpful to you.  I have had parents comment after our closing programs that they have never heard so many students who enjoy doing math.  To hear this is rewarding for me, and it is a privilege to teach and pass on what I enjoy and encourage a lifelong journey of learning.