Back to School with Global Math

Back to School with Global Math

Edited By Nate Goza @thegozaway

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Online Professional Development Sessions

Unpacking Fractions: Moving from Senseless Rote to Sense Making and Joy
Dr. Monica Neagoy

Students’ love for mathematics ends when they surrender sense making and yield to senseless memorization. Through powerful examples, the webinar explores: reasons for the difficulty, insights into sound pedagogy, engaging tasks, interactive fraction apps, and bridges to the future.

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

Last week at Global Math TMC17 attendees shared their highlights from Twitter Math Camp.  Click here to check it out!  Also, if Podcasts are your thing, click here to check out former GMD Presentations in Podcast form!

Hit the Ground Running with the #MTBoS

Four Great Bloggers You Don’t Want to Miss & The #SundayFunday Challenge

I try to read the (hundreds of) blogs I follow on my Bloglovin feed, but when I HAVE to do a quick scan due to crunch time, there are four bloggers whose blogs I must read from start to finish EVERY TIME. Even when I say to myself, “Oh, I can skip this one for now,” without fail, I am drawn into their writing, their ideas, and their knack of discovering something that, without it, feels like I’ve had a complete void in my classroom! Their blogs are chock full of information that can be used THAT DAY. If you don’t follow these four bloggers, be sure to do so right now!
The first blogger is Sarah Carter of Math Equals Love fame. She recently assembled her best ideas in 21 Ideas for the First Week of School and Most Referenced Posters just for her readers. I often see Sarah’s ideas tweeted and blogged about all over the #MTBoS and as a veteran teacher, I use many of her ideas and find them to be very fresh and student-centered.

The second blogger is Sara VanDerWerf. I heard Sara’s keynote last year at the Desmos pre-conference at Twitter Math Camp, and in just a few seconds I could tell that when Sara speaks, people listen. She just summed up her first week ideas this year in 1st Week Posts – Plus Something New. I see so many blog posts and tweets referencing her for name tents, the 5×5 game, and 100 Numbers, The Backwards Bike, and more. She is incredible, and I am so thankful for her many ideas. I use many of them in my classroom with much success.

The third blogger I can’t get enough of is Jo Morgan of Resourceaholic. In Math Gems, she shares news, ideas, and resources for math(s) teachers. Jo is from England, and I was lucky enough to meet her when I attended the Complete Maths workshop in London this summer (which I found on her conference list.) At the conference, math teachers were asking her for selfies and even on the train they were thanking her for all she does…she is like British royalty when it comes to mathematics!! You will always find a new resource in her blog, whichever side of the pond you are on!

And the fourth blogger is Fawn Nguyen from Finding Ways. Fawn always has something important and meaningful to say and often in a humorous way. She says it with such heart and soul that all I know is I want to be a student in her class right now. To me, she is like a lioness fiercely protecting her cubs when she talks of her students. I heard her keynote: Teacher Woman (poor audio quality on video so here is a PDF version) at Twitter Math Camp ‘15, and she had me in tears and laughing hysterically almost at the same time. Her passion for teaching is evident in her extraordinary writing. You can see her humor in this post: These Twenty Things and if you haven’t seen her sites or, you MUST get on that! Many bloggers speak of using her Noah’s Ark activity on the first day of school (including me!) Here is her latest blog, All I Got on Classroom Management, which is quite a bit!

I only mentioned four bloggers this week, but there are so many other amazing ones out there. You can find a TON of them at the weekly blogging challenge (#SundayFunday) that Julie Reulbach has organized. The first one is A Collection of Goals Across the MTBoS and the second is First Day blogs. Click here to submit for the next challenge. Don’t be nervous about blogging! Just do it and #pushsend!


Written by Lisa Winer (@Lisaqt314)

Looking to Join the Elementary Conversation?

As the new year starts, there are lots of great ideas floating around online but many elementary teachers don’t know where to find them. Elementary Math Chat takes place every Thursday night at 9pm EST. The chat is hosted by Melynee Naegele and Brian Bushart and the do an amazing job behind the scenes. Here’s what you’ve missed so far…


This week, Annie Fetter takes the reigns and it’s sure to be a blast.  You can join the action by following the hashtag #ElemMathChat.

If you can’t get enough, NCTM & Zak Champagne host an elementary chat on the second Wednesday of every month. (#TCMChat) There are lots of thoughtful conversations taking place that center around a recent article from Teaching Children Mathematics.

If you have an elementary friend that doesn’t receive this newsletter, do them a favor and share.  Their students will thank you for it.

Written by Graham Fletcher (@gfletchy)

Writing, Reflecting, and Reaching out

The beginning of the school year can be really overwhelming, whether you’re a first year teacher or a 10th year teacher or a 30th year teacher!

Here are two recent blogs/tweets I loved that helped remind me how to start the year right:

The first is a couple of weeks old, and comes from Julie Reulbach (@jreulbach). Julie, along with a few other Twitter Math Camp attendees, is helping to get us all writing and reflecting about the beginning of the school year. I truly believe that two of the most important things for us to get better as math teachers are 1) to reflect on our own teaching and 2) to build community with others who are like minded, thus ensuring we are not isolated. So join in, even if you’re late in starting, like me! Here are the details about how to get involved.

The second was a post from Nancy Pendleton, who was asking for some advice for the first day of a first year teacher.
Some really good responses came back in response to her tweet—we’ve all been there, and her tweet resonated with yours truly, and I’m going into my 15th year! Good luck Nancy and all of the first year teachers! (And the rest of you too!)

Written by Steve Gnagni  (@Steve_Gnagni)


Collaborative Learning and Access for All Students

There are a lot of great curricula out there, but I’m very excited about an effort being led by two Southern California 8th grade teachers – Yekaterina Milvidskaia and Tiana Tebelman – who are combining problem-based learning with Complex Instruction and the ideas described in Jo Boaler’s book Mathematical Mindsets. Their site now has two units: Linear Functions and Transformational Geometry, which they created in conjunction with
What I really love about their curriculum work, however, isn’t just the thoughtful problem sets, but the description of how they structure and support group work and suggestions for aligning assessment and homework to practices that promote equity and learning for all students. For example, instead of assigning many practice problems for homework, they now assign 1 – 3 mathematical questions that extend that day’s learning and one reflection question from a list of possible prompts. Several of their students’ quotes show that they appreciate the opportunity to reflect on their learning. One wrote, “This year I really like how we do our homework. I understand how to do my homework because of the reflections; those really help me because then I can remember what I did in class that day.”
In their section on group work, Yekaterina and Tiana share their overall philosophy, which comes from Complex Instruction. They have developed interesting group roles so that all students in a group have important contributions to make. That has been one of the challenging aspects of group roles for me when I have used them (for example, a common group role is Resource Manager, which often means the task of getting supplies at the start of class and then hanging out for the rest of the time), so I was especially excited to see these more evenly distributed roles. The roles they have come up with are Coach, Accountability Manager, Skeptic, and Team Captain. Each role card also includes sentence stems so that students have clear scaffolds and language to use.
In helping students get better at collaboration, Yekaterina and Tiana use two types of group assessments: a Participation Quiz and an Accountability Quiz. The first one helps students learn what equitable group work and real collaboration look and sound like. The teacher lets students know their expectations regarding how the groups will work together, then observes how each group interacts, writing down specific behaviors and student quotes, and then reporting this back to students so that they have clear feedback. The Accountability Quiz helps all students engage more fully with the mathematics they are learning and make sure that different approaches are discussed fully and no student is left behind. Each group prepares and when they believe they are ready, the teacher selects a student to question, using differentiated questions to challenge all students. They may select additional questions to further probe how well the team has discussed and understands the mathematics on which they are being assessed. In order for the team to pass, each selected student must demonstrate strong understanding, but they can regroup and work together and have multiple opportunities to be assessed. One thing I love about this strategy is that the teacher models the kind of questioning strategies that we want students to be internalizing in order to build a culture of skeptical peers in the classroom. I wonder if eventually, the role of questioner can be passed to other students to create even more student agency.
Collaborative and inquiry-based learning often includes student presentations and the folks at the Art of Mathematics have some great ideas for doing this better.
In this recent blog, Dr. Christine von Renesse documents the process through which she changed her more traditional rubric for student presentations, in which solutions that were completely or mostly correct were valued, to one that explicitly valued multiple approaches and making sense of big ideas above solutions that are correct, but don’t demonstrate important learning because she realized that:
“The most learning for the whole class often happened when the presentation was in fact not “completely, or mostly, correct with only a few insignificant errors,” as the highest result in the rubric requires. Instead, it was often mistakes in, or disagreements with, presented work that led to the richest discussions and deepest insights for a significant segment of the students.”
I love that her new assessment model allows her to match grading to what actually contributes to student learning, reducing the pressure on students to produce “perfect” presentations and making it less likely that they would avoid harder problems in order to game the system. At the end of the blog post, she also shares a wonderful quote from Allison Henrich, chair of the Department of Mathematics at Seattle University, who blogged about encouraging mistakes and uses the following language when too many “perfect” solutions have been presented:
“That was perfect! Too bad there were no mistakes in your work for us to learn more from. I’d like to hear from someone who tried a method for solving this problem that didn’t work out so well. Would anyone be willing to share something they tried with the class?”
It makes me really happy to see teachers at the college level increasing access to mathematics learning and refining strategies that help students develop agency and ownership of mathematics.
Anna Blinstein (@Borschtwithanna)

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