Math Chat

I wish I could say I made this quote myself, but that would then make me a liar.  Which I clearly am not.  So I’ll give credit where credit is due and admit that my co-worker Stephanie – our Curriculum Support Math Teacher – said the following: “Common Core is more about how to teach than what to teach.”  The “how to teach” refers to the eight mathematical practices that have been made for the Common Core.

Last Thursday and Friday all of our Middle School Math teachers got together at Hyde Middle School to listen to Wendy Ward Hoffer (check out her book here on Amazon, it is amazing) and her co-worker talk about PEBC and the workshop model in a math setting.   Listening to Wendy’s engaging stories and wonderful sense of humor we start to see that the practices are a huge part of Common Core.

We kicked off the first day by talking about what makes you a proficient thinker.  These strategies were originally found by seeking out what made people proficient readers.  Research then found that these seven things make you not only just a proficient reader, but a proficient thinker as well.

  • Background Knowledge
  • Questioning
  • Inferring
  • Determine Importance
  • Monitor for Meaning
  • Create Mental Models
  • Synthesize

Teachers then got into talking about how to create a workshop model in their classroom.  Allowing students to work on complex problems both individually and in a group setting.  The daily layout would be a mini-lesson (maybe 5 – 10 minutes) and the rest of the time working on a complex problem and allowing for some reflection at the end.

PEBC Day 1

In my opinion if the right task is used in the workshop model all of these mathematical practices can be addressed in just one setting!

  1. Make sense of problems and preserve
  2. Reason abstractly and quantitively
  3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
  4. Model with mathematics.
  5. Use appropriate tools strategically.
  6. Attend to precision.
  7. Look for and make use of structure.
  8. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.

Now the question of “where do I find the right task” is always asked.  MARS tasks are a good place to start, and Wendy also showed us the CarTalk website that has good examples as well.

During the second day teachers talked about the role of Mathematical Discourse in the classroom.  This idea of having students talk and discuss their process to a partner, a whole group or even a small group is more powerful than doing 30 practice problems!  AMAZING!  The discourse connects back to the reflection time that is provided in the workshop model.


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