Creativity in mathematics abounds at the intersection of belief and practice! When the belief that all learners are doers of mathematics and enter the classroom with valuable lived math experiences intersects with the use of a lesson routine that offers space for students to do the thinking, learners become the creators and authors of the material from which they learn.
“If you cannot read the word problem, you cannot do the math.” This statement is false on many levels! Students who are receiving math instruction in a language other than their native language are doers of mathematics! And as teachers, it is our job to utilize specific strategies that allow every student in each of our classrooms to engage in thinking deeply about the mathematics. In this article we share four strategies for math teachers to use when working with multilingual students who are working on their English skills while also learning math.
Questioning the Author is a discussion-based approach that supports students in studying and understanding complex texts. Comprehension work is an essential piece of any text-based task. If students don’t get the gist of the text or grasp an author’s ideas, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to do deeper analytic and interpretive work. It is especially important for emerging readers and emergent multi-lingual (EML) students to be able to access the big ideas of a text while building their comprehension muscles.
Accountable Talk® Discussions: Solidifying Knowledge and Engaging in Rigorous Thinking Alongside Others in a Collaborative Community
Accountable Talk discussions require teachers and their students to support one another and mutually create a classroom community committed to using and building accurate knowledge and engaging in rigorous thinking. Everyone involved understands and is accountable for respecting each other and the learning community, as a whole. This begins with recognizing and honoring each person’s different lived experiences because every person brings vital knowledge and valuable assets to the learning community. This article provides a general understanding of Accountable Talk discussions and serves as a basis to begin exploring this high-leverage practice.
As the need for virtual instruction continues, educators continue to look for ways to make mathematics instruction more equitable and honor students’ abilities and backgrounds. In this article, we examine three teaching practices that work in virtual spaces and offer six strategies for keeping every student invested and advancing in their conceptual understanding.
Remote Coaching for Rigorous and Engaging Online Classroom Discussions: Layering New Forums with Fresh Insights
Coaches have a critical role in assisting teachers in continuing, rather than abandoning, important pedagogies while teaching online. Read about what is being learned through ongoing research at the University of Pittsburgh’s Learning Research and Development Center on how coaches can support teachers remotely to engage students in rigorous and interactive online discussions.
Getting students to think deeper about the content takes intentional choices and instructional moves on the part of teachers and administrators. One of our partners, Butler Area School District in western Pennsylvania, has worked this year to increase the academic rigor in their mathematics classrooms.
Disrupting inequitable practices, examining biases, creating inclusive and sustainable school environments for students, and finding and cultivating the assets and interest that every student brings to school are part of what is needed for all students to develop to their full potential in and out of school.
We’ve recently begun helping districts use improvement science to work on problems of practice. To develop a more rounded view of the problems, teachers have been working in their schools to gather the stories of diverse students and other teachers about their experiences with teaching and learning.
Designing for academic rigor in a thinking classroom starts with the choice of task with which students will engage. Likewise when striving to improve student achievement, we ask our school partners to begin by analyzing the tasks students experience. If we want students to truly understand mathematics, as opposed to a series of tricks, sayings, and acronyms, then we have to ensure they have a regular diet of high-level tasks that require thinking and reasoning about mathematics.
As the supervisor of humanities (at the time) for New Brunswick School District, I have had the opportunity to work with the Institute for Learning (IFL) for the past 3 years, and one of the areas on which we focused during that time was increasing the cognitive demand in the classroom.
We have known about harmful effects of high-stakes state testing on students, teachers, and the curriculum for decades, yet we continue to perpetuate the belief that they test what students know and can do. Daniel Koretz (2017) demonstrates that they have become ends in themselves and take valuable time away from instruction designed to grow students’ intelligence rather than their test-taking abilities.
New Brunswick Public Schools (NJ) is a continuing partner with the Institute for Learning (IFL). Over the last 4 academic years, the district has seen definite growth across grades 3 – 10 in both English language arts and mathematics, as measured on the NJ state assessment tests.