Jan 6, 2014
Best Practices in Mathematics
My faculty has been participating in work-imbedded, ongoing professional development reated to best practices in teaching mathematics this year. It has been amazing to watch the transformation of teaching and learning over the course of the last six months. We are using the Teachers development Group based in Oregon to faciltate this learning. The focus this year has been to introduce and implement mathematical habits of mind and mathematical habits of interaction (sociomathematical norms).
We recently conducted some walk-through data snaps to specifically look for evidence of the habits of mind and habits of interaction. It was pretty exciting for me as I was able to see increased evidence of the implementation of the sociomathematical norms in classrooms. I saw more visual supports (such public records), more multiple solution strategies, and more evidence of teachers requiring justifications from students. I saw stduents making generalizations and conjectures.
As I reflect, I was wondering what we could do to take these things to the next level and increase the mathemaical understandings even more. After all, it's about going from GOOD to GREAT, right? I've been thrilled with the progress, but I believe that we should always strive for continuous improvement. Here are my thoughts:
* I believe that the rich conversations our faculty has had about determining the level of cognitive demand of tasks has been invaluable for all of us. If we keep the level of cognitive demand in the forefront of our minds and begin to shift our thinking as it relates to this it WILL have a significant impact. What an "Ah-Ha" moment for me when I observed my faculty having reflective dialogue about rigor and I when I witnessed teachers coming to the realization that "more" isn't necessarily "more challenging"!
* We have done an outstanding job of utilizing more anchor charts for student reference. Perhaps, posting public records that are more representative of the students' actual insights and mathematical thinking would be a great way of strengthening public records even more.
* We have all introduced the notion of mathematically productive disequilbrium and we've begun the process of really encouraging this. Some students are actually getting to the point where they recognize their own disequilibrium and they are beginning to celbrate their math A-HA!s and use their mistakes to start new learning. I think that as we introduce and encouarge more complex and nonalgorithmic thinking we must make a concerted effort to use those opportunities to capitalize on/reinforce the notion of productive disequilibrium. I strongly believe that will make a world of difference and take understandings to new levels.
We had each grade level collaborate and create a list of lesson components that could be added to ANY math lesson to increase the level of cognitive demand. Then, we came back together as a group and shared ideas. As I looked at each list and listened to the teachers from each grade level explain their list I felt extremely proud and hopeful as it was evident to me that we have definitely begun the process of establishing a common language regarding the teaching and learning of mathematics.
Posted by Committed Sardine