I’m really excited about mathematics education. I think the Common Core Standards came at the right time and the perfect storm is upon us. Jo Boaler is creating exciting content for teachers, parents and students at Youcubed.org, Carol Dweck is putting in to words what we know is necessary to succeed, and at the same time there was enough of a shift in standards that teachers are now focusing on what students need to understand, not what they need to learn.
There are two goals I have for the upcoming school year based on all of this excitement. The first is to change my classroom culture to make mistakes more valuable. I am constantly telling students that mistakes are valuable, and they should be learning from them, but this is not evident in my classroom. I don’t show students how to learn from mistakes, and I don’t value mistakes in my grading practices.
The second goal is to come up with a more consistent classroom routine for number sense routines. There is so much good content right now that I think I could fill 180 days with number sense routines. I love Building Powerful Numeracy for Middle and High School Students by Pamela Weber Harris, Jessica Shumway’s Number Sense Routines, Number Talks by Sherry Parrish and Classroom Discussions by Chapin, O’Connor & Anderson. In addition there is so much good web content coming out of the math twitterblogosphere it’s hard to know where to start. I want to use Fawn’s math talks and visual patterns, Andrew’s Estimation 180, and Sadie’s Counting Circles.
A few months ago I attended a conference where all three authors of Classroom Discussions presented in separate workshops. Something I tool away from Nancy Anderson’s presentation really stuck with me. She said, “Math class is like a cooking show.” The more I think about this the more I love it. We should constantly be looking for the mistakes that students are making we should be bringing those to the surface and presenting them in an organized way. Don’t just hope that students choose to participate the way you want them to, have it all ready to go. While students are discussing a problem listen to the discussion and ask that student to share once you bring the class back together. Whether it is a common mistake, or a great idea the point is to make every minute in class count.
I’m not sure how to attain these goals, but I know I need to focus in on the important points. I have used Building Powerful Numeracy for Middle and High School Students and Classroom Discussions in my classroom before. I want to add in some of the other great content out there. I think I may have to rotate the number sense routines that I’m using in my classroom either weekly or daily based on what we’re doing? I’m open to suggestions.
I’m hoping that I can show the value of mistakes through some of these number sense routines and my new “cooking show” technique. One thing I’m still struggling with is how do you value mistakes while grading. If I’m encouraging students to make mistakes I need to have some way to record what mistakes they are making and what they are learning from them. Ideas?
I’m excited about a new school year. I think I’m going to grow a lot as a teacher.