Teacher teams and principals met for a Math Review Kick-off Session on Oct 10, 2016 with Minnesota Department of Education Math Specialist Susan Wygant. The purpose of the day was to get updated information about best practices in math instruction and develop an action plan for implementing the practices in each building.
One of the best practices examined was a set of 7 questions asking what are our beliefs about learning mathematics. Each question had a continuum and teams identified where they are in their beliefs and how well do their actions follow those beliefs. An example item is:
An instructional best practice we talked about was “productive struggle.” This involves giving students tasks where they are going to struggle and need to persevere, but not so difficult that they give up. Students need to know that many mathematical concepts and skills take time and effort, that perseverance is required and how to deal with that angst. Also, that errors and confusion are part of the process of learning math, we learn from our mistakes. Talking with each other can help us figure things out. The recommendation was given that teachers should talk only 35% of the time and students should be talking 65% of class time.
Finally, a rather bold and extensive action plan template was shared that includes pieces to work on over years and years. The intention was that the teams would take where they are now and prioritize what they want to work on from the action plan template. The idea is that teams will work on only a few items each year, then refer back to the action template to decide what to work on next. An example of one part of the plan is:
High Quality Math Instruction
- Shared vision of high quality math instruction
Instruction is monitored and on-going professional development is given
Formative assessment informs classroom practices
Common assessment is used collaboratively to make instructional decisions
Clearly defined beliefs around math learning
Now that the plans have been made, SCRED continues to support the implementation of those plans within buildings. We feel everyone is off to a great start.
Here’s a quick look at what’s happening in districts during this year of math review with SCRED:
Chisago Lakes’ elementaries are examining some components of their core curriculum, “How are we implementing this piece, How does that compare to recommendations, Do we want to make changes? Students’ flexibility with numbers is also being examined, staff are exploring number talks as an instructional strategy.
North Branch Area Schools are piloting new core curriculum for mathematics. The staff are working with Terry Wyberg, University of Minnesota on professional development.
Pine City Elementary has been implementing number talks in grades K and 1 for several years. This year they are moving number talks into second grade.
Hinckley and Finlayson Elementaries are implementing a new core math curriculum this year, EveryDay Math. Teachers are using the number talks format within their mental math portion of the curriculum.
East Central Elementary is continuing to implement number talks. This year they are investigating “productive struggle tasks” to build a positive disposition in math and build students’ stamina and problem solving skills.