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.

As students are working through a task ask:

  • 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?
  • Is your answer reasonable?
  • Do you agree or disagree with your partner’s answer?

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

Scridb filter

Announcing: Jumpstart Your Singapore Math® Instruction Workshops for 2019

Back by popular demand!

We are pleased to announce the return of Jumpstart, an intensive, two-day workshop for current and potential users of Primary Math and Math in Focus, as well as any teacher interested in incorporating these techniques into their own classroom, regardless of current curriculum. If you are:

  • new to the Singapore approach to math instruction…
  • needing a refresher to boost your math teaching skills…
  • wanting to incorporate the best practices from Singapore into your current curriculum…or
  • curious about the reasons for Singapore’s remarkable success…

…then this workshop is for you!

Click here to get all of the details on this exciting program!

https://singaporemathsource.com/jumpstart-your-singapore-math-summer-2019/

Location and dates currently available:

Roanoke, VA | July 8-9, 2019:
Register Now!

Phoenix, AZ | July 18-19, 2019*:
Register Now!

Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN | July 25-26, 2019:
Register Now!

Golden, CO | July 29-30, 2019:
Register Now!

Irvine, CA | August 1-2, 2019:
Register Now!

*Jumpstart AZ does not have a Day 2 Choose your own adventure option. You will cover similar content over 2 days with Cassy!

Do you want to be notified when a Jumpstart Your Singapore Math Instruction is scheduled near you? Fill out the form below:

Scridb filter

We’re Heading West!

Catch Cassy and Beth at the California Mathematics Council – South Annual Conference in Palm Springs

Math Champions is happy to be returning to Palm Springs on November 2nd and 3rd to work with educators from Southern California. Cassy and Beth will be presenting three sessions this year, supporting the theme of Mathematical Journeys to Empower All Students.


Play some math games!

Join us on Friday at 1:30 pm for Ready, Set, Play!: Practicing Number Sense with Games. Engage in tried-and-true math games that support the development of number sense and place value. Leave with ideas and materials to take right back and use immediately in your classrooms.


Hone your bar modeling!

Continue your learning on Saturday at 8:30 am with Navigating Word Problems with Models. We’ll investigate methods of teaching and assessing tape diagrams for those persnickety word problems with hands-on materials. We’ll look at strategies to introduce model drawing to both beginning and struggling learners.


Strengthen your mental math!

Come back again on Saturday at 10:30 am for Using Mental Math Strategies to Deepen Number Sense.  Learn what we mean by mental math, explore strategies, and experience how to practice mental math in your classrooms. Having a deep sense of number will empower and build confidence in your learners.

Not registered? No problem! Registration is currently open.

Attend one of our sessions and identify yourself as a blog follower to receive a gift of thanks. We hope to see you there!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!

Scenes from Jumpstart 2018

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!

-Jen Irish, 3rd Grade Teacher, Terra Academy, Vernal UT

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.

 Scridb filter

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

%d bloggers like this: