The way they learn

I love the Rekenrek.

I love the visual it provides.  I love the way it can be used by kids to make numbers, the sounds the little beads make clanking together – not to mention, clean up is crazy easy!

I was literally bouncing off the walls with excitement, just waiting to share it with the class.  When the day finally came, I think I may have even dressed up for the event, and then…

Crickets.  Literal silence.  I probably looked something like this…

With a dress on.

What a sad day!  Why didn’t they love it?  Why wasn’t there unbelievable math happening all over the room?  They loved my Rekenrek last year!

I once was lucky enough to listen to one of my favorite Author’s, Cathy Collins, speak.  She hilariously told a story about how sometimes lessons bomb and it is best to cut your losses and just walk away.  

But that wasn’t me.  I kept at it.

And things just got worse.  

So, that night, I miserably sat down to make a plan for the next day.  The kids didn’t get it, and I knew it wasn’t their fault.  I did all that I could to force my love of the Rekenrek and the learning I wanted, and because of that, I might as well have dismissed the class for the day at 2:00.  Then I started thinking, what days did my KIDS feel successful in math?  What tools did they connect with, what sparked the deepest conversations?

I tried the next day with the same concept, but with a tool the students had been interested and more engaged with – the 10’s frame paddles.  And, of course, we were able to get where I was hoping to get the day before.  The kids were excited, I was relieved, and I think everyone shared a sense of accomplishment about what we were able to do.

I see now, as the old saying goes, “If they aren’t learning the way I teach, maybe I need to start teaching the way they learn.”

And I’ve got time – I bet I get them loving the Rekenrek yet.


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