Friday, October 11, 2013

Exploring the MathTwitterBlogosphere (in primary)

Some dedicated, thoughtful, and busy math teachers have set up a structured challenge to support folks in blogging and connecting about math. I'm never certain I have much to add to the conversation about math as a first grade teacher (where basic counting and number sense are a big focus). But I'm highly intrigued and I learn a lot from these folks.

One option in their first mission is to write about something that makes your classroom distinctly yours. I've been thinking a lot about my classroom (the physical space and what is in it) quite a bit recently and writing about it is the next logical step.

I love my classroom space. I find it welcoming and comforting and a place I genuinely enjoy being. I hope my students feel the same way.

The most noticeable thing in my classroom is that we never have the overhead lights on. I find them jarring and overly bright. Instead, we have four different floor lamps, one in each corner, two small table lamps and Christmas lights strung along two walls. It's a lot to turn on every morning and off every afternoon but it's worth it.

The next thing folks notice is that there is a couch in my room. A regular, living room sofa. (It was my parents' sofa until my mom couldn't figure out why she bought a floral sofa.) It's not institutional or sharp, it's comfortable and welcoming.

I painted one wall of my classroom dark blue. It's another way to keep the room from feeling so sterile.

We also have a piano (it's an electric keyboard but a really nice one so it seems closer to actual piano than keyboard to me).

I only have one table that looks really like a first grade classroom table. I have another table just like that one, but it's only about 18" off the ground and one more big table that is extra tall. The rest of my tables are coffee tables or end tables scattered around. We've got big pillows and bean bags also. Lots of seating choices.

Often I forget that my room looks different from most classrooms. It's been such a gradual evolution to get here that it just feels like normal.

These two pictures were taken by students but they're the best ones I have to see different parts of our classroom. (My first graders do take some great pictures!)


Denise said...

"Basic counting and number sense" are super important! And fascinating to think about, too:
* How can we build a foundation of mathematical thinking in young children?
* How can we help them develop number sense and relational thinking, seeing how numbers connect and relate to each other in all sorts of ways, rather than just seeing numbers as tools for getting right answers?
I love to hear different people's insights about such questions. I look forward to following your blog!

Sue VanHattum said...

I think the physical environment is vitally important. I hate one of my classrooms (noisy fan, too small, some desks don't move easily), and the other is tolerable but not great. Maria Andersen wrote about a great college classroom here:

Also, some of my favorite math blogs are about early learning. Check out Malke Rosenfeld, who writes about dance and math (

Brianna Larmore said...

I love your classroom! As a parent, I love the little things that make a room feel as if a child could live there. And, let's face it, they practically are during the week. As a student, especially in high school and college, I hated walking into the same classroom with a different teacher at the board. I often wonder why anyone who spends as much time as a teacher does in "their space" would leave it as barren as many do.

Also, thanks for caring about math in the first grade. I have met a string of teachers lately that only complain about math, yet love any other subject. As a future middle/high school teacher, "God Bless You!"

Jenny said...

Denise, I completely agree about the importance of basic counting and number sense. Those questions are ones I struggle with a lot and I find the struggle fascinating. Thanks for such a positive response!

Sue, Thank you for those links. I'm thrilled to have good folks to read who are talking about math with young kids.

Brianna, My daughters love to come into my classroom after school. My 5th grader told me the other day that my room feels like a cozy home to her. Made my day! I'm pained by how many elementary school teachers talk about their hatred of math. Kids can feel it.

Chris Hunter said...

"I'm never certain I have much to add to the conversation about math as a first grade teacher (where basic counting and number sense are a big focus)."

I don't know, Jenny. I think K-2 teachers do have much to add to conversations about math. "Who/Where are the elementary math bloggers?" is a question that comes up quite often. (I can answer the second question: Pinterest.) There's definitely an interest out there from the (admittedly MS/HS heavy) MTBoS in terms of connections and concept development across the grades. Plus, there's the parent angle. The popularity of Christopher Danielson's Talking Math with Your Kids posts is evidence of this interest.

Looking forward to reading more on your blog, especially posts about counting & number sense.

Anonymous said...

Your classroom sounds fabulous! I am currently in a Teacher training program and feel that it is extremely important to create an environment that is warm, comfortable and inviting. I think it is one less thing for the students to worry about when they first step into their classrooms. I touch a bit on this in my blog post ( I hope that when I am actually in a classroom of my own, I can create as comforting of a classroom as your sounds.