“Putting it all together” is a lot more difficult than listening and taking notes in just about the same way that life is a lot more difficult than school. Ideally, school prepares you for life. Similarly learning about teaching should, ideally, prepare you for teaching.
Of course, as a paraprofessional, you don’t have full responsibility for teaching, but let’s be clear: you do indeed have some responsibility for teaching! You are part of the teaching team—and teaching, including planning for, providing, and assessing instruction, takes time and effort to do well. It also takes resources—more than we can give you in this module, certainly. That’s why working with a mentor or an experienced teaching team is so important.
In the meantime, and in addition, we offer this toolkit. This is one of several toolkits that provide resources in this module. The resources in these toolkits can support your efforts to get better at doing some instruction on your own as well as reinforcing teachers’ instruction. In the toolkit for Unit 11, we’ve included, among other resources, several videos as a way to illustrate what good math teaching looks like. Watching them will not automatically make you confident about either doing or teaching math, but it’s a good starting place. We also include many other web-based resources (games, slide shows, discussion groups, organizations).
Just realize that good teaching is addictive. When you see that you’re helping kids learn new things, important things: well. It’s a good feeling that you’ll want more of!
Many of us find that there is nothing else like actually teaching well—it’s certainly better than any mere job. Good teaching is a higher purpose.
This toolkit has four compartments and an Appendix.
Compartment 1: Links to Videos About Teaching Math to Students with Disabililities
First grade student: 3 x 10 is the example. “Kinesthetic learner” means the student needs to move and touch things to learn well.
(1 minute, US)
A new teacher talks about learning to teach math to kids with disabilities
(1 minute; this is difficult work, but you can do it!)
Dyscalculia [diss-kal-CUE-leeuh]: a specific math disability and how you can recognize it
(13 minutes, Britain)
High school math teacher teaching kids with disabilities
(17 minutes, US; includes kids talking about liking math class)
“Algebra skills” class (course to prepare students for Algebra I): course for students with disabilities
(11 minutes, US)
Two-year-old child with autism becomes “math genius” by age 13. Don’t underestimate those with disabilities!
(14 minutes, US; 60 Minutes segment)
Compartment 2: Resources to Help You Develop “Number Sense,” So You Can More Easily Help Students Do It Too!
Early childhood. “Dots worksheets”: using visual patterns related to numerals.
(1 minute, US, advertised a homeschooling video)
Kindergarten. Teaching number sense to little kids, based on a visit to a dinosaur museum.
(14 minutes, US)
3rd grade mental math: taking numbers apart and putting them back together)
(6 minutes, US)
Taking a number apart and putting it back together (sports team [British ‘football] and restaurant seating). Easy.
(2 minutes, Australia)
The “fast way” to multiply any 2-digits number up to 100. It’s just one of many examples of number sense in action. The presenter doesn’t explain the logic—he just gives rules. Nice Australian accent, though! See if you can figure out the logic: it’s not too difficult!
(6 minutes, Australia)
This is a video (“Harry Restores Balance”) for those who teach and those who learn. It shows number sense as an exploration: a game with elementary-age students. The steps of the game have each number changing to another number. You’ll see that it makes sense. And it’s not boring or hateful. It also reinforces the message in the module about avoiding winners and losers.
(3 minutes, US)
A number line activity: more like a teaching routine—but it applies number sense in a step-by-step reasoning process.
(4 minutes, US)
Grades 5-8. “The Location.” (also listed in Compartment 3). Game-like presentation, because there’s lots of guessing and estimation from data.
(19 minutes, US)
This video illustrates “number sense” beyond arithmetic. Quote “Why this is an exciting time to teach math.” TED talk by high school math teacher—pretty good and kind of funny if you know schools well.
(16 minutes; US)
This longer video uses number sense to explore fractions, ratios, and rational numbers. Will deepen your understanding of ratios and proportions in less than half an hour. Very important math knowledge for all levels, pre-school through high school.
(26 minutes, US)
Compartment 3: Links to Videos of Elementary and Secondary Math Teaching Putting Ideas and Thinking First, So You Can See It in Actions for Yourself
- Kindergarten. Teaching number sense to little kids, based on a visit to a dinosaur museum (also in Compartment 2).
(14 minutes, US)
- 3rd grade math with a well-organized teacher. Shows an approach to memorization within an approach that treats math as a web of ideas.
(6 minutes, US)
- 3rd grade lesson about multiplication with fractions. Teacher presents the lessons as “a new way of thinking.”
(9 minutes, US)
- Grades 5-8. “The Location.” Simple set up puts students in small groups, and they generate the data for the lesson: estimation, connections, probability, graphing.
(19 minutes, US)
- Grades 5-8. Fractions board game: reinforces fractions using number sense. Watch for the questions the teacher uses with students. She insists that students explain their thinking and ideas.
(16 minutes, US)
- 6th grade lesson on ratios and proportions (ratios for mixing “perfect purple paint”).
(8 minutes, US)
- High school geometry: lesson using similar triangles (and mentioning trigonometry) to measure height of flagpole.
(12 minutes, US)
- 11th grade math project: connecting math to the real world (just one example of millions possible)
(3 minutes, US)
Compartment 4: Links to Online Sites Where Those Working with Math Teaching Talk to One Another
These links complement the idea of “putting it all together.” They are not videos, but places you can go to ask questions or find additional sources for reinforcing math lessons.
- Ask Dr. Math—answers questions from students and teachers.
- Everyday Math listserv (includes discussion of math for students with disabilities). Everyday Math is a textbook series that focuses on ideas and thinking (one among several such series on the market).
- The Math Forum weekly electronic newsletter. Available in plain text or as a web-oriented version with links to math sites on the web.
- The Math Forum discussion group
- The Edutopia math blogs with comments and discussion
- Math is fun forum (puzzles, games, and “fun”).
- Math Help Forum (high school level).
As an Appendix to this toolkit, here are a few links to organizations particularly concerned with supporting the instructional work of paraprofessionals. These sites can give you more information about what others outside your school and district are doing for paraprofessionals:
- National Education Association Paraprofessional website
- National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals (includes parapro newsletter)
- Minnesota Paraprofessional Consortium
- Intervener and Paraprofessional listserv for those working with deafblind students