Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Math-tastic Practices

Holy cow, today was a math-tastic day. Here are five reasons why (and you know they are serious reasons because I'm counting down from ten):

5. Monday began with coffee and breakfast in a middle school math teacher's room: egg-salad sandwiches, fresh fruit, crispy bacon, coffee, tea--a literal buffet of healthy breakfast items set up by one of the kind people from our school's cafeteria and catering group.  Food is not the most important thing, but it sure is a kindness. I did not have to stop along the way to school to purchase snacks for teachers. I did not have to bake items to contribute to the buffet.  We are well cared for here at Singapore American School.  I do not want to take that for granted.

4.  We practiced five practices for math discussion from Smith and Stein's 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussion, 2nd EditionEven though the teacher-coaches at my table processed the answers to the questions we were working verbally, so I didn't have to do the math... I enjoyed a teaching ah-ha moment.

3.  I can adapt and connect the math practices to what I would do in an English language arts class with writers.

Imagine this:
Our goal is to generate toipcs for writing an informational piece. Imagine setting students up for a writing problem or challenge-- you might frame it around recent readings or personal learning about topics of interest. Students get right to talking and writing (on a shared document or on white boards or on chart paper or in notebooks--that how is not as important as the thinking they are demonstrating).   Imagine monitoring how small groups of students used strategies to address the writing challenge. As groups worked on that task I could walk the room, listen in and take note of strategies students were using to meet the challenge. Some students may generate ideas in a list, some may make and reject suggestions, some may use questions from earlier in the unit to guide topic selection, others may talk about a mentor text and connect topics, others may do some sort of mapping (imagine a bubble map or a circle map to borrow language from Thinking Maps). Then, imagine that I want to feature specific strategies in the sharing out. Instead of calling for volunteers, I would make intentional selections so that students could see a range of strategies and hear a range of thinking processes that gets at the challenge. We may even be able to critique each other's strategies and talk about which were most effective for generating ideas. During this sharing process, I would connect what students say to the learning goals for the lesson.

2.  Mind blown. Of course, this isn't really evidence for math-tasticness, but honestly, my mind zoomed to applying the practices in English and in science and across learning contexts. These practices make Yetta Goodman's "kid-watching" more transparent or explicit almost. As a teacher, if I am anecdotally noting which leaners are doing and saying what, then using that data to make instructional decisions on the spot: wow! Powerful practice. For pictures of some of our work and to learn with us, follow Steve Mead and others tagged in his tweet.

1.   Be intentional. Think about where different clusters of learners are and choose a variety of learners to make their thinking visible. Critique and discuss the thinking-- about math, about writing, about book/genres choices.

Simple, right? Maybe I need to start more Mondays with math.

1 comment:

  1. I first thought about the English-Math connection in 1981 when I met a heap geography who always taught a novel in her classes. She asked me to help w/ Flatland. I don’t think I helped much. I was a first year teacher. She was near the end of her career. Still, I’ve thought often about our disciplines’ common ground. Your sketchnote illustrates the ting-yang of math and English beautifully, and thinking about how cooking depends on math and is often a hub for stories enriches these ideas more.