In a Texas 5th grade mathematics classroom, learners speak about persevering through problem tasks, show excitement about finding patterns in primes, and proudly explore number theory with Goldbach’s conjecture. Equally engaged in the mathematics is their educator, May Voltz. As a model learner/educator in the classroom, Ms. Voltz never stops seeking ideas for her lesson design and opportunities to meet the needs of each learner in her classroom. She utilizes social media (Twitter) to communicate beyond her classroom/district and has interacted with organizations such as Go Formative and YouCubed about the implementation of resources to improve teaching and learning.
Ms. Voltz recognizes the potential in herself and her learners, modeling a growth mindset with an aim at the type of profound learning described within the supporting premises for The New Learning Standards in Creating a New Vision for Public Education in Texas.
IIb. Learning should be specified to the “profound level,” that is, students are able to apply their learning to new situations, to synthesize, solve problems, create knowledge, and cultivate and utilize the full range of their capabilities.
Recently, Ms. Voltz explained how she develops her classroom learning environment into one safe for perseverance in problem solving. Using the phrase, Stay in the Struggle, children in Ms. Voltz’s class demonstrate metacognition, that is, thinking about their thinking, as they work flexibly with numbers to solve problems in new situations.
In the hallway outside the classroom, students’ work is intentionally displayed. Ms. Voltz explains that the images, appearing much like a series of amoebas, represent the numbers 1 to 60 or so and the coloring patterns indicate whether the values are prime or composite. This art is the result of an inquiry-based learning experience that challenged the students to look for patterns and draw conclusions about the idea of specific factors. Inquiry-based experiences such as this demonstrate the profound learning necessary to solve problems and create mathematical knowledge.
A look around the classroom reveals the current status of the Four 4’s Activity (previously mentioned in the video above). The class is only one value short of solving the challenge! The learners are committed to stay in the struggle and persevere to complete the task.
Ms. Voltz radiates a growth mindset when speaking about the children and their mathematical potential in her classroom. She clearly believes the sky is the limit when it comes to their capacity for profound learning of mathematics.
To keep up with the events happening in her classroom, follow Ms. Voltz on Twitter: @MayV1.