We are a school of dedicated professionals. Lifelong learners. Committed educators.
For the past two years, we’ve taken time to read, discuss and explore the CC Math Progressions, the actual standards’ document, the Standards for Mathematical Practices and videos showing the practices in action. Some of this work was met with grumbling and pendulum-swing talk. Others were excited to take up the challenge.
And now, at the end of October 2013, when yearlong units are in draft form and being taught, when assessment is being crafted and honed, when collaboration is the best form of PD… we are in good shape! The time spent with background and ground work is bearing fruit in our teachers and students.
One classroom today was full of well-paced, deep thinking around two- and three-digit addition. Thoughtful questions were thrown out by the teacher at prime moments of discovery and understanding. Mostly I heard the follow up question, “Why?” or “How do you know?” Perfect.
And when students are talking through the math, they are using the actual language of mathematics, “I made it 1000 because there are 10 hundreds.” “When I get 10 ones, I have to add another ten to the problem and get rid of the little ones. They are a ten now.”
And their teacher made sure to provide a mid-level problem and one more challenging for all of them. Her scaffolding, positive feedback and acknowledgement of their effort made the more difficult problem something to aspire to and tackle successfully. There was no worry about risk-taking because their teacher provided a safety net of feedback and support.
On a whole-school scale, we held our first Problem of the Month Gallery Walk & Math Morning last week. I chose Measuring Up from insidemathematics.org. It began with Stone Soup and branched off into measurement and enlarging images. The math on the walls of our multi use room was amazing! Exponentially better than our first POM last year. Clear explanations, specific mathematical language, diagrams, numeric calculations… all on display to stand alone without a student’s verbal explanation. They get it! I am so proud. And I completely acknowledge that this momentum, these breakthrough moments are both student and teacher successes. Students are doing the heavy-lifting of learning, and teachers are handing it over, asking probing questions and providing the safety-net of learning that promotes risk-taking and growth.
Now what? We continue our work with math units, roll out a Problem of the Month quarterly (weird, I know) and leave the heavy-lifting with the students. We are the spotters. 😉