Spatializing Curriculum Matters

head in sand

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 9.15.45 AM

Continuing yesterday’s discussion. The task is to trace 3 dimensional objects. Daily, for at least a week. Why? Kinder octagonal prism
To build fine motor skills which we know are critically important in the development of the body, brain connections that allow students to be successful learners. The research on early numeracy and on early literacy highlights the importance of developing fine motor.


Kinders trace objects



Students start out randomly choosing faces and tracing. The tracing is messy and awkward. PRACTICE makes the difference. This is the practice our kids need to start with. Big, free flowing, smelly markers, chart paper, real objects to touch and turn and flip and slide…. It’s noisy and engaging, then it gets really quiet as students focus.

Kinder prisms


Notice we are channeling the Picture Word Inductive Model? (inside joke)

Students match words to their diagrams to build vocabulary as they go.

This student is communicating her understanding of edges. But I need her to tell me more because I see vertices marked with green dots. And on a 2 dimensional drawing, there are no edges so I need to know exactly what she is communicating. The role of the teacher is so important, we are not sitting at the side or at our desks. We are with the students questioning, challenging, sharing and comparing, modeling. We write little notes on their work to remind ourselves what they said.



Here is a different example of communicating understanding. Again, this student has chosen edges to explain. Red flags the edges.

Then red lines and arrows are used to direct the readers attention to what edges are.Kinder mapping a shape

Learning to communicate in math is about learning to use words, symbols, diagrams.

This is not trivial, Friday afternoon, keep em busy work. This is a task that can be developed all year. As you design your plan for a centre based classroom, tracing 3 Dimensional objects can be one of the “daily” centres that support the development and refinement of KEY BASIC skills that are linked to achievement in math and science. Not to mention the Executive Functioning that students are learning.

If the work above is what Kindergarten, Grade one students can aspire to with practice, imagine the possibilities for Grades 5 and up. Why are we not developing these critical skills with our students?  a different diagram

All students need SIGNIFICANT experiences, over extended periods of time with tracing, cutting, sorting, tasks like these. Their samples become the basis for rich, thoughtful discussions with the whole class. This is more than I know how many faces a cube has, this is the foundation for learning to think, for reasoning, for being logical and planning the steps to accomplish a task efficiently every time (sounds like coding to me).

I challenge every teacher, in every classroom this September to spend time developing the TRUE BASICS for achievement in learning, anything. Practice that co-ordinates your hand- to your arm- to your eye- to your brain- with physical movements that build memory pathways. If you want to kids to think, remember and transfer what they learn, you have to start with the BASICS. And tell them these are the skills that make you smart.

YOU HAVE A BRAIN, USE IT.animate brain

Thank you Rod Clements, Counting on Frank