Recap of a math workshop: Math in a PLC at Work

This is a recap of my observations and notes at a mathematics workshop in Pasadena, CA. This was by far the best math workshop/conference that I have ever attended. One of the primary reasons I felt this workshop was elite was the way it made me feel and act as a professional educator. The main catalyst of the presentations that I attended was Juli Dixon (@thestrokeofluck) who is a dynamic speaker and thought provoker. The information received mainly revolved around how to develop a strong math PLC at work.

  • When team building sign-up for a duty that compliments your
  • Be aware of sellout stories when building strong learning communities. Stay away from phrases such as ‘nothing I can do,’ ‘it’s not my fault’ and ‘it’s all your fault.’
  • Here are what high leverage teams should be saying: What do we want students to know, how will we know they know it, how will we respond?
  • Checking for understanding without meaningful feedback for the student is diagnostic not formative
  • Students need to take action on feedback so there is growth and learning
  • If you give homework, make it formative so students get feedback that goes beyond diagnosis
  • Focus on strategies for struggling students in math. Fluency takes a back seat for the moment & will support all learning over time
  • Model the mathematics by mathematizing the lesson. This means use math language
  • Time to come back to the math practices and use them during instruction
  • We have an understanding that word problems make math more difficult when in fact it makes it more believable & supportive
  • To make sense of a student explanation and check for understanding, ask students “what did he/she say.”
  • If you dont hear what you need to hear in a discussion, guide the conversation w/ “I heard…” Even if you did not hear it from them at least the students have a buy in
  • You have to ask students questions when students are right, not just when they are wrong
  • Scaffold questions to students, don’t bail them out too quickly
  • Create enough imbalance that a student gets back to equilibrium w/o turning the student off
  • When creating math tasks, make sure that you keep common errors in mind to treat the misconception.
  • During every math lesson choose only one or two math practices to focus on. Others will be there, but keep the focus!
  • Dont teach students to use key words in math. Allow them to think abstractly & quantitatively

In Summary, create high level cognitive demand questions balanced with lower level cognitive demand questions that grade level teams agree on. Introduce more word problems as tasks to teach math strategies. Finally, support place value, fact strategies, addition and subtraction with re-grouping and fractions as a basis for math fluency.

Sir Ken Robinson: Creativity

Evaluate these thoughts:

  • Legislation destroys creativity
  • Standardized testing has become an obsession
  • The thought has been to learn things in school that lead to jobs
  • Industrialization has shaped modern education
  • For math and science, the question is asked, “how can we make it better.” For art, there needs to be a space created for dialogue and discussion to even take place. Why?
  • Our current system is obsolete
  • Promote innovation and creativity
  • Education+Culture+Commerce
  • Organizations are having trouble with complexity
  • Promoting creativity is a bottom line imperative
  • For most of human history we have led local lives and communicated primarily with those around us. Today we act differently
  • Technology is in its infancy
  • Within the next ten years, computers may go from algorithms to rewriting their own operating systems
  • We direct people to jobs we believe will be available
  • Misconceptions: Only special people are creative
  • We can’t wait to change education, children cannot postpone their lives
  • There are three types of people (trying to change education):
  1. Immovable: you are never going to change their thoughts, do not bother
  2. Movable: might be able to be persuaded
  3. Movers: those who create change
  • Create the right conditions
  • Encourage students at what they are good at
  • Special knowledge is a complex set of disciplines
  • Do attempt to teach “academic disciplines” through the arts, because what you are saying is that art is not academic and then not worthy to stand side by side next to such things as math and science.

Not seen or heard Sir Ken Robinson in action? I highly recommend the following talks:

 

Two books I am reading:

 

Changing how we teach and how students think in Math!

I recently watched a TED Talk video, titled “Math class needs a makeover,” by Dan Meyer. It inspired me to re-think the way I teach my students in 6th grade. You see, we have had one formula for teaching kids, for as long as I can remember, the math T.E. (teacher’s edition). I use it everyday, whether it be to plan my lessons or to go over the homework problems. Somewhere deep inside me, I know that I am better than this. I am the planner and the person in charge to decide how my class is going to learn content for the day and synthesize it for it for a lifetime. Now, no one expects students to remember every last breath that a teacher makes in an effort to explain content, however, the process and the journey should very much be a appreciated and highlighted to the fullest extent. I could go on and on, but you have to buy in and work that much harder to get the results that you wish for. Simply wishing is actually not enough, so put your hard hat on and work to improve your craft so that students become the thinkers that we long for them to be. I am along with you for this journey, for I am a teacher who is constantly looking for avenues to improve my skill set and more importantly, the skill set of my students! Watch the video and let me know if you think that you need to make a change in your instruction?