Information found that allows me to pursue the essential knowledge needed to enact the core teaching practices: promoting a mathematical community of learners, making mathematics accessible and meaningful, and allowing learners to take charge of their learning.
As teachers, it is crucial that we make mathematics meaningful and accessible for all of our students. However, one barrier that often can restrict our ELL students from accessing such math is academic language. Something I have witnessed in my own placement is that sometimes our ELL students become tripped up and overwhelmed with an abundance of new vocabulary that they fall behind within lessons. One strategy that this article provided that I was particulary fond of was the idea of using "social learning," which is referred to as an integral part of inquiry-based learning when the teacher models language and discussion expectations, provides visual language supports, and monitors and guides students as they work collaboratively in small groups. Within social learning structures, students are discussing problem solving that utilizies the academic language of mathematical terminology in peer conversations. English language learners can really benefit from these mathematical discussions. It creates an environment where students can work with one another to solve the problems in front of them while using the new vocabulary terms they have learned about. For ESOL studnets in particular, they are able to use these experiences to become more familiar with new language concepts and have multiple exposures to these concepts by their teacher's modeling, visuals around the room, and by interacting with their classmates. As a teacher, I could use these discussions to walk around and listen in on student conversations to informally assess how well my students are picking up the content and which students may need additiona support.
In classrooms today, it is critical for students to be able to take charge of their own learning and experience autonomy in the classroom. This blog posted a list of ten strategies that teachers can incorporate in their classrooms to help allow students to take charge of their own learning. One of the strategies that really resonated with me was to encourage goal setting and reflection among students. Rather than having the teacher set the goals for the day or for the lesson, give students the autonomy to do so. Have them brainstorm with one another to create goals for what they hope to achieve each day, and give students time at the end of the instruction period to reflect on if and how they acheived their goals. This will allow students to take more control of their learning and what they hope to achieve each day. In addition, the reflection time will help teachers determine how well the goals were met and how she can work to better support students in meeting the goals they have outlined for themselves. I think that this is a really beneficial strategy for me to incorporate in my classroom to help give students more responsibility in their own learning.
Beyond Formulas: Making Math Relevant for Students
Lacey Smith's insight:
One of the most important factors for teachers to consider when planning math activities for their classroom is being able to put mathematical experiences into a relevant context. I found an interesting TED Talk by Dan Meyer who made several good points about some of the current issues that lay in math education today. One of my biggest takeaways from his lecture was the idea that students are impatient problem solvers who expect the solution to a problem immediately. If they cannot find it within their reach, they lose interest. As teachers, it is up to us to spark intuition and desire among students in math. One way we can do that is by making math more relevant to students. Rather than giving students a word problem to solve, let them create their own word problem based on a real-world scenario they encounter. For example, if students are complaining about how overcrowded their school busses are, you as a teacher can challenge them to solve the problem using math! Students can work to determine how many seats a standard bus holds and thus how many students can fit on one bus. After calculating how many students in their school frequent the busses and how many busses there are in total, students can create a word problem to solve to determine whether or not the busses are overcrowded. Students can then take their findings to the school principal to see if anything can be done about the problem. This is an excellent way to show students how math is relevant and applicable to their lives and is a great way to spark interest and drive for math among students.
I am really fond of the information shared in this article. In particular, I like how the author cleary stated that math talk "is not just taking turns telling your method or meandering undirected talk." Math talk occurs when students are "asked to solve problems, explain their solutions, answer questions, and justify their answers." I have seen myself too often fall into the first assumption of math talk. We as teachers need to place more responsibility on students in math. We need to create communities where students are their own problem solvers. I attempted to use such malk talk when creating open-ended word problems with my students. Rather than just having students turn to one another and explain their answer, I had my students defend their answer. Since they all had different answers to the problem, they had to convince their partner that their answer was right, using the math we had been learning about in class. This is so much more beneficial because I can see that my students actually understand the content of what we are learning (multi-step word problems) and are able to apply it to any situation. It is crucial that we as teachers incorporate math talk as much as we can!
Something that can be difficult for teachers to achieve is finding ways to make math instruction meaningful to students. I found this game called "Nasty Math" that does just that for students. This game has students practice their place value skills, number comparing skills, and addition and subtraction all in one! Students are able to use manipulatives, including die and white boards, to create large numbers that they can compare with the others in their group. Students can then subract their total numbers from one another to see who ended up having the largest number (and by how much) at the end of the game. Playing the game gives students a real context to use math in and requires number knowledge strategies to try and win the game. I think this game is a great way to have students take charge of their own learning by picking and choosing who gets the number on the die to try and strategize their success. This always shows students how math can be relevant in every day life by showing them that all different types of math is needed to play in fun games!