Math Practices

Often in math we only think about the content to be taught at each grade level.  Third grade learns multiplication; sixth grade learns negative numbers, etc.  In reading there are common themes in learning that follow students from kindergarten through twelfth grade; these include fluency and comprehension.  These are skills students continuously work on to get better at becoming proficient readers.  The same is true in math.  There are 8 specific mathematical practices that students work toward using to think more like a mathematician than just a 2nd grader or a geometry student.

How math practices are used by students

Teachers of math focus on not only what each child needs to learn each of their 13 years, we will also focus on instilling these mathematical practices.  Some simple ways they can be supported is through questioning and creating a positive attitude toward math.  Consider the following interactions with a student

“I can’t do this, it’s too hard.”

“Is this right?”

Response: Does it make sense? Can you prove your answer by explaining it, doing it another way, or drawing a picture?

“I found an easier way to do it.”

CCSS Mathematical Practices

Response: Does that work just for this problem or have you found a mathematical rule?  Will it always work?  How do you know?

“That’s not the way we were taught in class.”

Response: There are multiple ways to solve a problem.  Can you show me the way you did it in class and we can compare it to the way I learned it?  Why do both ways work? How are they the same?

“I didn’t learn how to do this.”

Response:  Think like a mathematician.  Let’s reflect on what you already know and see if we can figure it out by looking for patterns or applying rules we know are true.

“I don’t get it.”

What part is difficult?  What do you know you can do and where does it get hard?  Can you create a picture or model that can help you ‘see’ the problem differently so you can think about it?

These approaches to math frustration can trigger efficacy in students so they feel capable of working it through.  Even though math can be difficult for some students (and frankly many adults), sometimes the struggle pays off.  When students are coached through the math, they’re more likely to master their own learning than just watching someone else do it or listening to someone tell them how.

You Should Get a Blog

Two months and 6 #blogchat visits later….

The pressure I’ve put upon myself for not only starting a blog, but what to say in the first blog could cook a pot roast in 30 minutes.  But after repeated words of encouragement from the #blogchat community, it seems that it really doesn’t matter, the general message is just get started.  I held myself accountable for thinking about the blog, researching a host site, and/or making progress by committing to facing #blogchat every Sunday night and report my progress (or lack there of).

It’s now 5h 40m before this week’s chat and there’s no way I’m going to enter without at least a primitive blog entry.

• Todd Burgess: Get it out and massage the process later
• Janette Speyer: “@MackCollier said, ‘Hit that publish button.'”
• Patant Consultants: “Starting a #blog is as good as done…. we hold each other accountable. We won’t let you off the hook.”
• Collin Kromke: “GET WRITING!”
• Matt Black: “Share the address so we can all check it out!”
• PineppleExpress Sway: “Start writing your first drafts ASAP… even when I’m not online I am working on drafts on my phone or on my computer in Google Docs.”
• Steve Case: “Do it!”
• Chris Brogan: “You’re not too busy.”
• Ann Peavey: “There can be a lot of trial and error in the beginning.  But that’s how we learn.”
• Shan Watts: “Happy to help, if you need it.”

I have rereading this blog entry visions a year from now and recalling the confusion, uncertainty, but a sprinkle of pride I feel.  I’m sure a giggle and a shake of the head will occur when my future self reflects on how much I have learned.