One of the best parts about my job as a coach is learning from amazing teachers. Each week, a teacher hosts a Learning Round which focuses on any subject or teaching practice of their choice. There are always great take-aways, so each week, I will share them here.
When planning a math lesson, the focus is usually on the content. Teachers plan their daily lessons based on what students will learn – the content standards and learning objectives. Too often, we don’t plan how students will show their understanding. Recently, however, more and more teachers are purposefully planning ways to include the mathematical practices in their daily lesson planning.
The past two Learning Rounds demonstrated creative ways to help students (and teachers) unpack the mathematical practices. In a Grade 3 classroom, students completed a Rich Task Challenge, which required them to solve a rich task and explain how they solved it in an iMovie. Students were not only focused on getting the right answer, they were also using mathematical practices to help them solve it! Instead of focusing on all eight mathematical practices, the teacher selected three that applied to the current module, and created a rubric to help students understand what it really means to use these practices. Students first used the rubric to peer assess a video made by a student, and then they used it to self-assess and reflect on their own work. Using a rubric provided students with specific ways that they can demonstrate the practices, and self-assess if they are Meeting Standards (MS) or Approaching Standards (AS).
A Grade 4 Learning Round highlighted the mathematical practices as students worked together in small groups to solve real-world word problems. In addition to solving the problems, students added context and details to the problem, which required them to reason both abstractly and quantitatively. It also answers the question: When will I ever use this in real life? Students communicated their explanations and modeled how to solve the problem using various strategies.
It is exciting to see the shift taking place in many math classrooms as students master not only content, but also the mindsets necessary to be confident and capable mathematicians!