The Holiday Homestretch







The Holiday Homestretch



Edited By Nate Goza @thegozaway

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Reaching the Whole Range
Presented by Henri Picciotto

As everyone knows, students learn math at different rates. What should we do about it? I propose a two-prong strategy based on alliance with the strongest students, and support for the weakest. On the one hand, relatively easy-to-implement ways to insure constant forward motion and eternal review. On the other hand, a tool-based pedagogy that supports multiple representations, and increases both access and challenge.

To join the meeting when it starts at 9pm Eastern (or RSVP if it’s before 9pm), click here.

Last week Global Math took a Thanksgiving break, but before that Kate Nowak showed us how to turn classroom activities upside down. Click here to watch.

Thanks to the #MTBoS

Thankful Teachers

It’s been a helluva November – wouldn’t you agree?

So it was lovely to read some good reminders of how much we have to be thankful for.  Here are a couple of my faves:


Under the category ‘Multiple Representations’, we can always count on Indexed to accurately depict the human condition:

Elizabeth Statmore, or our beloved Cheesemonkey reminded me of the very best thing about the #MTBoS, besides giving me the best professional development every day in so many different ways.

And Fawn Nguyen, the Queen of many things in the math education world (including teacher snark), delivered a brief but humbling note of thanks, reminding me to always check my privilege at the door.  Note in her post that she is writing a book!  While you are on Fawn’s blog, make sure you read her post Irrelevant from earlier this month as well.

Teaching Stuff

If you are looking for any ideas for cooperative learning in your classroom, Glenn Waddell has compiled a hyperlinked list of resources for you.  Thanks for letting us share in your graduate education, tuition free – no less, Glenn!  

A great idea from Pam Wilson – the Reverse Quiz!  Having students find errors in work promotes critical thinking skills and deepens understanding.  Pam suggests we let the students make mistakes and explain why they are wrong.  Brilliant!

Jonathan Claydon, writing at Infinite Sums, makes a strong case for slowing down your curriculum pacing to ensure your students have enough procedural fluency to actually solve problems with the Big Ideas you want to teach them.  As teachers, all of us are answerable to some end-of-year goal, whether it’s a Regents exam, a departmental final, or just making sure our students are adequately prepared for next year.  Jonathan (who has also shared some interesting assessment ideas in a previous post in answer to a tweet for help), challenges us to let that go just a bit in order to close some of our students’ the proficiency gaps.

Cheers – Wendy Menard  (@wmukluk)

Vlogging Action

If you’re reading this newsletter I’ll assume you’re aware of the MTBoS community. The blessing and curse of our amazing community is that as more people contribute and share, the harder it is to keep up with it all.

So when Christina Tondevold shared that she was changing her blog to a vlog I couldn’t help but think how much easier it would be for me to consume her goodness, as the “reader.”

      

Christina recently posted a vlog describing the ins and out of Subitizing and shared some games to support her work.

I’m excited to see what else the Recovering Traditionalist will share and wondering if there’s any other vloggers out there amongst us.

Written by Graham Fletcher (@gfletchy)

The Problems of Teachers

At this point in the year some teachers may be grappling with many kinds of problems. The blog world has examples of some teachers, thinking through some thought provoking problems.
      

Manan Shah (@shahlock) writes about a problem that was tweeted by Audrey McLaren (@a_mcsquared): “I get why we discourage kids using formulas, but what if they’re the ones who came up with the formula? #mtbos” In his response, What’s the Formula for Formulas?, Shah describes why we want students to understand the meaning of the formulas they use, and goes on to talk about how to push the thinking of students who create their own formulas.

Blogging is a good place to break down thoughts about problems teachers face with their students, as well as with their own lessons. Jon Orr (@MrOrr_geek) has an interesting series of Fav and Fix posts that describe “my favourite” from that week’s lessons, and “Something I hope to fix”. This week’s post describes how Would You Rather Math, along with a warm up from Mary Bourassa, sparked a great class discussion. His fix for this week is a work in progress as Jon highlights his thinking about a fledgling 3-act task.

Sometimes the problems teachers face aren’t tangible in a student interaction, or in a lesson as a whole. Sometimes the entire idea of teaching needs to be called into question. In What even IS good teaching?, Lisa Bejarano (@lisabej_manitou) takes a very broad approach at how to measure classroom success. A highly decorated teacher and PAEMST awardee, Lisa should feel sold on her effectiveness. Yet she writes “Most of my class periods end with me thinking about what a mess it was…” as this post goes on to raise questions about traditional measures of teacher distinction. “There is too much focus on what is observable in a class period…and not enough on the culture and connections that teachers develop with and among their students.” She goes on to describe some of the strategies that build the connections and culture that she needs in her class.

Problems facing teachers can arise because they are focused on larger goals that may not be noticed or awarded in their schools. Luckily deep thinking about the problems of teachers can be noticed and celebrated across the blogosphere.

Written by Carl Oliver (@carloliwitter)

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Global Math Department is Thankful for YOU







Global Math Department is Thankful for YOU



Edited By Brian Bushart @bstockus

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We here at Global Math Department are thankful for our presenters who volunteer an hour of their time each week to share their passions and expertise around math education. We are also grateful for all of you who read our newsletter and attend our sessions. We wouldn’t be global or a math department without you! Whether or not you celebrate US Thanksgiving, we wish each and every one of you a wonderful week with students, friends, and family.

Global Math Department is on break this week, but we will return with our next fantastic session on Tuesday November 29. In the meantime, check out the articles below that share the latest and greatest from around the #MTBoS.

Last week at Global Math, Kate Nowak helped us re-think classroom activities by turning them upside down. Click here to watch.

The #MTBoS Never Sleeps

Don’t Wait for Problem Solving

Tracy Zager has a nice summary of a talk given by Megan Franke and the way that Tracy changed her classroom in response to Megan’s ideas. Megan is one of the authors of Young Children’s Mathematics, the newest book by the authors behind Cognitively Guided Instruction.

In the book, the CGI authors make the case that young children can develop their skills as counters and problem solvers simultaneously. Many teachers only give students opportunities to solve problems once they have become fluent with the underlying skills, but Megan and her co-authors argue that children become more fluent and agile with counting facts (and later math facts) when they are practiced in the context of problems, not solely in isolation.

Tracy realized that she had been doing lots of work with counting collections, but she hadn’t used these counting activities as a springboard for problem-solving. So she recounts how she and her colleague Debbie Nichols turned a traditional counting activity into a multi-part lesson where students were counting, solving problems, and even posing and sharing problems that they invented. Tracy’s report includes a couple of examples of students stumbling upon new mathematical ideas through their problem-solving experiences. I won’t give them away – you’ll have to click through!

Although this post has a focus in early elementary, I think the lesson is one that can be extended into all levels of math teaching. It’s important to remember to give kids problem-solving opportunities as they build fluency with counting, addition, multiplication, factoring, and so on. We shouldn’t wait or expect total mastery before giving kids a chance to think through an interesting problem with their new tools.

Written by Kent Haines (@KentHaines)

One Good Thing…And Another…And Another

As Thanksgiving approaches I cannot help but to put thoughts of math on the back burner and bring thoughts of thankfulness to the front. This school year I was introduced to the hashtag and blog #onegoodthing by @crstn85. I can think of no better time to highlight tons of good things happening within math classrooms around the world than now.

These tweets are the type to lift your spirit when you’re feeling low. It’s a reminder than even when things appear bleak, you can find one good thing. Like this tweet celebrating student work and their admiration of one another’s work.  Or the celebration of student strategies in an era where many are still struggling to get used to Common Core. I’m sure every math teacher would love to have these stories – story 1, story 2, story 3, and story 4.

Moments like these are elaborated within the blog.  Posts like Basic Trust and Allowing about a student finally finding the potential already within him. Or Handout Passer Outer, which reminded Rebecka and the readers to listen to the stories of perseverance our students possess. Or even Listening, which shares the pain of a student and the teacher’s love for him. Read them and see if they don’t prompt you to share one good thing from your classroom.  

After this Thanksgiving break, come back in search of the one good thing from each day and continue the thankfulness agenda.

Written by Jenise Sexton (@MrsJeniseSexton)

Math and Memory

File:Mathematical formulas.JPG

On a recent test, one of my students used a formula to answer a question. Normally I would have insisted he show his work, but I happened to know that he had derived and verified the formula himself. Since he had done the important work prior to the test, I decided to give full marks, even though during the test he was technically just remembering the formula. This made me tweet to the #mtbos: “I get why we discourage kids using formulas, but what if they’re the ones who came up with the formula?” As usual, the Twitter conversation was fascinating and enlightening. Manon Shah (@shahlock) proposed the conversation continue on blogs, and for a starter, he offered up his comic. I have to admit I haven’t even started my own blog post about this, but I found this one by John Mason about how memorizing formulas can be used to forge deeper understanding. It also includes a fabulous idea about posters.

Not really formula related, but another idea that I loved was Pam Wilson’s (@pamjwilson) reverse quiz, in which students choose the wrong answer and back up why it’s wrong – kind of a combo of Math Mistakes and Plickers!

Since I’ve been doing a lot of presenting on Desmos Activities lately, I’m ever on the lookout for posts about best practices. This one by David Cox (@dcox21) speaks directly to what I struggle with in my own practice – how to really get the most math out of a fantastic activity like marbleslides.

Written by Audrey McLaren (@a_mcsquared)

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This Week: #Election2016







This Week: #Election2016 



Edited By Sahar Khatri @khatrimath

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Turn that Lesson Upside Down! The eight Mathematics Teaching Practices outlined in Principles to Actions describe high-yield features of an incredible math lesson. But what do these lessons look like in practice? We’ll be looking at examples of re-thinking classroom activities by turning them upside down; Moving from “I do, we do, you do” to “You do, y’all do, we do.” Join us tonight at 9PM EST here.

Highlights from last week: Children Living in Poverty Can Solve CCSS OA Word Problems

Kindergarten, grade 1, and grade 2 children from backgrounds of poverty and non-native speakers of English can solve the ambitious types of addition and subtraction word problems in the Operations & Algebraic Thinking domain of the Common Core standards. How children represent and solve with math drawings was discussed and examples were shown. The learning path for teaching and helpful relationships among the OA CCSS were described. If you missed it, check out the recording here.

Great Blogging Action: Election 2016

Election Reflections

Unless you’ve been living under rock, which is completely possible and no judgments here, then you know that the United States has a new President-“elect”. This event has had a ripple effect among citizens of the United States the like of which has not been felt in recent memory. It has also equally affected American children as much as it has the adults who actually voted in the election. Many teachers woke up on Wednesday, November 9th wondering what to say to a room full of young, impressionable minds. Luckily, the Huffington Post gave this message as a jumping off point that morning, “We will protect you.”

Image result for protect clipart

In the days since the election, math and non-math teacher/bloggers have taken to the internet to tell how they handled November 9th and the days that followed. Chris Lehmann, a principal in Philadelphia, wrote a letter to educators who voted for Donald Trump. Lehmann asks these teachers to live up to the words in the Huffington Post piece and to protect their students. Michael Pershan gives this plea to listen to our students. Bree Pickford-Murray tells the tale of her week after the election, for which she has no words. And finally, Megan Schmidt gives us her take, which ends in one vote for kindness, but it’s the only vote that counts, her’s. Please if possible, share how you handled the days after the election in your class and how you will protect your students for the next four years and provide them with a venue and the skills to voice their fears and concerns!

~by Andrew Gael (@bkdidact)

Ten Letters for the President

I’ve mentioned my favorite podcast before. Recently 99% Invisible released Episode 235, Ten Letters for the President. It’s definitely worth listening to in light of recent events in U.S. politics.

Photo: Pete Souza

The podcast does a thorough job explaining the process of President Obama receiving tens of thousands of letters a day from people across the country. In reality, he only reads 10 letters each day which turns out to be less than 0.1% of the letters received. Those 10 letters are a small sample of the pulse, emotions, heartaches, and thoughts of thousands across the country. The president says, “These letters, I think, do more to keep me in touch with what’s going on around the country than just about anything else.”

I share this podcast episode for three reasons:

  1. It’s a reminder of the impact our current events can have on all of us; teachers, students, family, strangers, friends, enemies, cities, states, countries, and all humans. No matter how large the impact, I believe we as individuals can have a far greater impact with how we treat those we have contact with each day. Our students need to see us be good humans. We are in their daily world. Be good humans.

  2. These letters to the president are super important. If less than 0.1% of the daily letters received can positively inform and impact the president, then these letters could very well be more valuable than any tweet, blog post, or Facebook comment one might dispense into their social media bubble.

  3. I hope these letters continue to pour into the president, especially after January 20, 2017. I hope 10 letters continue to be read by the president each day. I hope those letters keep the president in touch with what’s going on. I hope that if something is on your heart, you write the president. I hope that if something is on your students’ hearts, they write the president. Be good humans when doing so. That 0.1% might be the most important percentage we ever teach in math.

~by Andrew Stadel (@mr_stadel)

Uniting Through Community

This past week may have been one of the most important in our country’s history, no doubt.  Definitely in my own lifetime.  Things have gotten pretty polarizing, but I am hoping that we each take this as an incentive to go get involved in our own communities and connect with other people directly.  This is especially because we will never see completely eye-to-eye with anyone.  We need to start productive dialogue and try to understand each other.  The more this happens, the more united we will become despite our differences rather than becoming divided because of our differences.

This has made me think about how polarizing our own subject is that we teach!  I really wish that it wasn’t so true, but it is.  And one way that we can make it less so is to do the same thing: unite through building and getting involved in mathematical communities.

A few important organizations stick out to me whose goal is just that.  The first is Math Teacher’s Circles (@MathTeachCircle) and the second is the Global Math Project (@GlobalMathProj).  If you aren’t already involved in your local Math Teacher’s Circle, I strongly encourage you to do so!  If you don’t have one nearby, have you thought about starting one up?  And the Global Math Project is doing awesome things to spread the joy of mathematics to the world; you should go check them out.

Let’s all join together to move forward in staying united via creating community.  Math can, and should, bring people together!

~ by Matthew Engle (@pickpocketbme)

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Dia del Global Math Department







Dia del Global Math Department



Edited By Brian Bushart @bstockus

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Children Living in Poverty Can Solve CCSS OA Word Problems
Presented by Karen Fuson

Kindergarten, grade 1, and grade 2 children from backgrounds of poverty and non-native speakers of English can solve the ambitious types of addition and subtraction word problems in the Operations & Algebraic Thinking domain of the Common Core standards. How children represent and solve with math drawings will be discussed and examples will be shown. The learning path for teaching and helpful relationships among the OA CCSS will be described.

To join the meeting when it starts at 9pm Eastern (or RSVP if it’s before 9pm), click here.

Last week at Global Math, Gail Burrill shared about Mathematical Practices in AP Calculus. Click here to watch.

It Came From the #MTBoS

Thinking Deeply about Depth of Knowledge

Robert Kaplinsky has been doing great work on depth of knowledge for years now. In short, depth of knowledge is a way of classifying math problems based on the level of thought required to solve them. This post from 2014, in which he shares some wonderful videos of students solving problems at various depths of knowledge, is an excellent summary of the big idea.

Robert isn’t resting on his laurels, though. Instead, he is still thinking deeply about DoK and refining his own understanding of how to evaluate math problems using this framework. In his most recent post, Robert talks about shallowness of knowledge. In other words, what is the least amount of thinking that a student can do to get the right answer? Students tend to initially engage with math problems on a superficial level no matter their depth of knowledge, so it’s important to find problems that can’t be solved on a first pass.

If you’ve ever sat through a PD session on depth of knowledge and had trouble wrapping your head around what it looks like in a classroom, give Robert’s blog a read.

Written by Kent Haines (@KentHaines)

More on Problem Solving

@KentHaines and I are thinking along the same wavelength, problem solving. My focus is the lack thereof. In recent conversations, I have begun to notice more and more, the problem with Common Core is teachers’ lack of understanding of the standards’ rationale and of the standards themselves. My point is proven in @JSchwartz10a most recent post. If teachers understood just because a worksheet is stamped with a standard, it does not mean it actually matches the standard.  

Joe referenced another post which speaks to another gross misconception of many teachers. The Common Core works to create multiple entry ways of understanding concepts. Teachers who lack understanding of the rationale turn concept strategies into cumbersome procedures or tricks which undermine the original intent.

Written by Jenise Sexton (@MrsJeniseSexton)

Desmos Does It Again!

I had just come home from giving my second ever teacher-training session on Desmos activity builder when I saw on Twitter that my session was already outdated. We can now add videos to our activities AND multiple choice questions! I loved this article explaining the rationale.  

Doing that teacher-training made me realize it’s been a while since I read any blog posts about the Desmos activity builder, so I went searching for recent ones and found Cathy Yenca’s post about combining Desmos with Nearpod (@mathycathy) and Jennifer Vadnais’s post about ordering fractions (@RilesBlue). Both of these posts talk about using the new teacher tools – another new feature, but I did manage to put that into my presentation – just in the nick of time!

Written by Audrey McLaren (@a_mcsquared)

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