Prime Your Mind, Then Rest & Reflect



As we move through the design process, edging closer and closer to the development of a solution to the Problem of Practice I chose to tackle, improving the math curriculum in my grade level, we come to the next mode of design thinking, Ideate.  During this stage it is important to brainstorm all possibilities, whether whimsy or wacky, focused or serious, obtainable or far-fetched; the objective is to develop a wide range of possibilities.  Once that is completed, it’s equally important to take time to incubate, or rest in order to come back with a fresh outlook for even more ideas.  After reading Part One, and article from Psychology Today, I was able to prime my mind by brainstorming (you’ll find my brainstorming list below), then take some time to incubate, and finally being able to think and reflect some more.  I have found this process very effective and extremely rewarding that I incorporate it each time I sit down to work on something.  Take a look at my design thinking stage of idea development below.

Improved Math Curriculum

Part Two:  Prime Your Mind


  • Do not get overwhelmed!
  • Remain focused throughout the process.
  • Many schools experience similar problems within their curriculum and are constantly redesigning it.  What works for other schools may or may not work at mine.
  • This is the trial and error stage of the process.  We must try things in order to fail or succeed.  Learn from failure and build on success.
  • You don’t have to tackle the entire year’s math curriculum all at once.  Complete in stages and take small bits at a time.

Possible Solutions or Ideas to Incorporate

  • Online module for housing tools and resources according to each concept, unit, or lesson
  • Teacher created videos or screen casts
  • Create on unit at a time incorporating technology to see how it works
  • Use MobyMax regularly
  • Create an online platform and have each student equipped with an iPad
  • Supplementary resources housed on teacher’s web page
  • Math curriculum coach
  • Look in to new text book
  • Build on the idea of binders, but in digital form.  Documents, websites, videos, etc. can all be included in these online binders instead of worksheets only
  • Format into Introduce, Learn, Explore, Evaluate
  • Produce assessments to incorporate periodically (weekly?) into curriculum
  • Math manipulative lab where students may learn and explore mathematics
  • Teacher professional development
  • Math specialists and coaches for interventions
  • Team teaching
  • Math Groups
  • Math Centers
  • Flipping the classroom in mathematics only to begin
  • Incorporate play into the math lesson daily
  • Reciprocal teaching to peers
  • Math groups work together one day a week on a collaborative unit project


  • Should every day’s lesson follow the same format?
  • Would math groups be effective for more personalized math instruction?
  • How will I fit everything in?
  • Should I keep the hour time block for math?  Increase? Decrease? Space out?
  • Should homework be included everyday?  Flipped classroom model?
  • What do students want to see in their math lesson?  What to other teachers want to see?
  • Should I follow a Day One, Day Two, Day Three, Day Four, and Day Five as assessment type format?  Day One would be a pre-assessment and vocabulary to follow.  Day two would get into the concept itself with various web resources, presentation, etc. Day three would be more practice on the concept and some sort of game, app, activity, etc. that supports the concept.  Day four would be more practice with a sort of review of the week and Day Five would consist of a short assessment to monitor progress.  ???

Improved Math Curriculum

Part Three:  Incubate and Take a Break

Finally the weather here in the midwest has calmed down from all the snow and, although there are still piles lingering around, I was able to get out and enjoy the sixty degree day on my “incubation break”.  I was able to walk away from my Problem of Practice and the initial brainstorming process to take my dogs on a walk while enjoying the first spurt of spring weather.  Yay!

Improved Math Curriculum

Part Four:  Back to Work and Reflection

After completing the incubation process, I was able to come back and develop my initial brainstorming list even more so by adding a few more possible solutions and thoughts about the project in general.  What I found to be especially intriguing was the fact that I actually take incubation breaks throughout projects, homework, lesson planning, etc. already.  This helps me to not only take a break, but hopefully come back with a fresh look and new ideas to create an overall better piece.  I actually learned about this while reading a rather interesting book during my undergraduate studies called Brain Rules.  Since then, I will work on something for my classes or for school, and purposefully take a break, whether it’s just to get up a take a lap around the house, to grab something to drink, or a bit longer break while running to the grocery store, I take frequent breaks.  I feel like if I don’t, my work is forced and often times, not my best.  If I don’t take these breaks, I almost feel a fog coming on, and really begin to lose focus quickly.  I am a firm believer in the incubation stage for developing ideas.  My brain definitely needs it! Anytime I feel stuck, it’s almost a guaranteed thing that if I take a short break and return, I will be much more focused and much more productive.  This was the case with my Problem of Practice brainstorming session as well.  I was able to lengthen my list and come up with more thoughts, possible solutions, and answer/ask more questions.  I hope that, in doing so, this helps with the development of my overall design for an improved second grade math curriculum.


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