## Who’s doing the talking?

A new school year brings new commitments to improving our practice as teachers of mathematics. One tip I often share with the teachers I coach is, “Ask more and tell less.” Well, that’s easy to say, but what does that look and sound like in the classroom?

Often times, the teacher’s guides are written following a more traditional, lecture-style of teaching. They encourage the teacher to model, or work problems, while the students watch, and then the students are asked to mimic what the teacher did with a similar problem. I challenge you to flip the script and replace the word “show” with “have the students model” and replace “tell” with “ask”. When your teacher’s guide says to show the students the difference or similarities between problems or concepts replace that with, “ask the students what they notice?” It’s these little tweaks that will go a long way toward engaging your students in meaningful discourse and ultimately deepening their understanding.

A fourth-grade teacher from Aurora, Colorado shared her strategies for engaging students in math talk in her classroom.

While this appears to be written for the students to follow, it also suggests some great questions for teachers to ask to generate more discussion.

• How did you solve that?
• How do you know that’s correct?
• Can you solve it another way?
• Can you build a model?
• Can you use numbers and symbols to explain your model?
• Is that the best (most efficient) way to solve that?

So, who’s doing all the talking? Give some of these questions a try and let us know how it goes.

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## Graphing the Holidays

Teaching between Thanksgiving and the winter break can be a challenge. How do you keep your students engaged in meaningful math learning while embracing the season? Introducing graphing and data analysis might just be the answer.

Imagine starting your day in first grade with a question about favorite holiday treats. Students can answer the question and instantly you have meaningful data that can be organized into a tally chart, picture graph, or bar graph for students to analyze. Or, students can build a bar graph with post-it notes as they make their choices. Then, spend some time analyzing the results.

Ask 5th graders if they traveled over Thanksgiving break. If so, how far? Now use this data to find mean, median, and mode, or to create a histogram for students to analyze. Or, chart the temperatures over the course of a couple of weeks and use this data to create a line graph.

Third and fourth graders could tally the number of candles in their homes for the holidays and use this data to create a line plot. Fourth graders can use their line plots to explore finding the median.

Planning a holiday party? Survey the students on what should be served and what activities should be included. Students can present the findings in a graph and use the results to determine how much and what needs to be donated or purchased to make the party a success.

The holidays are a great time to share family traditions. Why not use that information to meet some graphing and data analysis standards?

For other ideas to keep students engaged in learning read Mental Math Breaks from December 2017.Scridb filter

## Events Recap – Jumpstart your Singapore Math® 2018

We were thrilled to welcome teachers, coaches, specialists and administrators from 18 states to our Jumpstart your Singapore Math® Instruction workshops this summer.

We are so very grateful that you took time from your summer to join us….And we are delighted that you found it valuable!

#### What Attendees said about Jumpstart 2018

I have been in education for over a decade, and this has been one of the most engaging, practical, and meaningful Professional Development opportunities of my career. Thank you to these amazingly bright and helpful experts!

-Keith Grifffin, 1st and 2nd grade Math Specialist, City Academy School, St. Louis, MO

As an administrator, this training was invaluable to my understanding of the Singapore approach to teaching math!

-Melanie Stivers, 5-8 Principal, Springfield Christian School, Springfield, IL

This is the best training I’ve been to. Every minute was enjoyable and educational. I feel better going into the school year and am excited to teach the Singapore way. It was life changing and mind blowing!

There were so many things I was unsure how to teach in Singapore Math. Cassy and Beth explained the elements in layman’s terms so I could understand the material myself, then showed us, from a student’s perspective, how to solve the problems with a logical approach. The biggest difference between this training and others was, I didn’t feel like I had to be a Math expert to teach the curriculum.

-Penny Hagerman, Interventionist, 3-5, Vanguard Classical School West, Aurora, CO

Truly appreciated the lesson planning information. The teacher’s guide does not have enough information to assist teachers with teaching strategies. I feel I can teach better and help my students better understand and build on the concepts. Awesome Class!

-Cheryl Kenney, 1st Grade Teacher, Augustine Christian, Tulsa, OK

#### Thanks to Jumpstart 2018 Hosts

Clayborne Education – Charlottesville, VA
Augustine Christian Academy – Tulsa, OK
Liberty Common School – Fort Collins, CO
Mounds Park Academy – Saint Paul, MN

We will announce details regarding 2019 Workshops soon. If you would like to receive notice of upcoming workshops and are not already on our email list, please complete our Training Needs Survey or give us a call.

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## Throwback Thursday Extra-Test Prep

As the standardized testing season approaches, we present readers a special edition of Throwback Thursday featuring one of our more popular posts. Here, Beth Curran addresses common questions and misconceptions on the topic of Test Preparation. As a teacher, I encouraged my students to welcome their annual opportunity to “show what they know.”

## Test Prep: Is it really necessary?

Originally published February 16, 2017

For many, Spring brings with it those two dreaded words: standardized tests.

Whether your school is required to take PARCC, Smarter Balanced, state mandated standards-based tests or ERBs, you inevitably will want to make sure your students are prepared.  Many teachers will plan to block out two to three weeks prior to the testing dates to review and teach content that may not have been covered, but is this interruption to instruction necessary?

It’s estimated that students and teachers lose an average of 24 hours of instructional time each year administering and taking standardized tests.  This doesn’t include time taken out of the instructional day for test prep so that number may even be quite higher.

Q: But, I need to review to make sure my students remember concepts taught at the beginning of the year.

A: Not if you have been teaching to mastery.

Teaching math with a mastery-based program that is rich in problem-solving may all but eliminate the need for any test prep or review.  If your students have a solid foundation in the basics and have practiced applying that knowledge to solving problems throughout the school year, then nothing a standardized test can throw at them should be unachievable. With a cohesive curriculum, where concepts build on each other, your students have essentially been revisiting concepts throughout the year. So, trust in what your students have learned and skip the review.

Q: What about going over topics that I haven’t covered yet?

A: How much success have you had cramming for an exam?

If material is thrown at students for the sake of a test a few things can happen.

• Students won’t retain information. If students have not been given enough time to progress through the concrete-representational-abstract phases of learning, they will likely not be able to recall concepts or apply those concepts to the unfamiliar situations they might encounter on the standardized test.
• Students will be stressed out. They will feel the pressure (that unfortunately, you are likely feeling as well) to get a good score on the test. Learning becomes just something to do for a test.
• You will get false positive results. Have you ever had the teacher in the next grade up comment that students couldn’t remember a concept that you know you taught? Or, better yet, had test scores reflect learning, but students couldn’t perform at the next grade level? That can be a result of concepts being taught too quickly.

So, rather than block out a few weeks to cram in topics that you haven’t covered, try integrating them into other areas of your day. Do some data analysis in morning meeting. Add some questions about telling time to your calendar activities. Play with measurement and geometry during recess (The weather is getting nice, right?).

If you follow the sequence in your well-thought-out curriculum and teach some of those missing concepts after testing, it’s ok. Your students will experience those concepts in an order that makes sense and will be able to make connections, apply their thinking and master those concepts. That mastery will stay with them into the next year and will be reflected on upcoming standardized tests.

After all, we don’t stop teaching after standardized tests.  Well… that’s probably a topic for another post.

photo courtesy of Alberto G.Scridb filter

## Throwback Thursday – Direct from the classroom: Challenges & Successes with Singapore Math implementations

For our final post this summer, we thought it would be interesting to look at other challenges schools face in their adoptions. When I re-read a post from the past I always take away something different because I am in a different place with my own experience. Perhaps you are as well!

### Direct from the classroom: Challenges & Successes with Singapore Math implementations

###### Originally published 12/1/2012

Some teacher challenges & successes with Singapore math one year or three months after adopting the program are below. Click to see larger images.

During follow-up in-services, I like to have teachers meet in grade level groups and spend time discussing the challenges and successes they have had thus far with their teaching of Singapore Math. Each grade level is then asked to list these challenges and successes on a poster and share with the group as a whole. This allows us time to compare and share lessons from the content fresh on their minds.

There is so much challenge the first year when implementing a new curriculum, it’s helpful to take a few moments to reflect on how many successes the teachers and students have had. These posters then guide subsequent teacher learning as we focus on the concepts that they are finding challenging.

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