“What is Math in Practice?” We get that a lot. It might be more important to first talk about whyMath in Practice.
Sometimes we look back to the “good old days” of teaching math with rose-colored glasses. But did everyone learn and love mathematics in those classrooms? What do you remember about math class when you were the student? What was a typical assignment? What did your classroom look like and sound like? As I listen to teachers across the country, I am struck by the similarity of their experiences as they recall:
lots of memorizing
a teacher telling how to do it
one right answer
one way to get the answer
no group work
We know that one of the biggest changes in the teaching of math is a new definition of proficiency. Computation skills are still important, but it takes more than that. We want our students to understand why math works.
"Feedback has long been seen as a powerful form of teaching, though increasingly researchers are recognizing that certain types of feedback are more effective than others. It turns out, for instance, that grades and written comments on student assignments, which are the most common type of feedback, are the least effective. That's because, as Dylan Wiliam writes in Embedded Formative Assessment, " in such situations, feedback is rather like the scene in the rearview mirror rather than through the windshield. Or as Douglad Reeves once memorably observed, it's like the difference between having a medical [checkup] and a postmortem.""
As authors Lindsey Moses and Meridith Ogden point out in their book “What are the Rest of my Kids Doing?” Fostering Independence in the K—2 Reading Workshop, there are a variety of ways to discuss the stages of literacy development. Fountas and Pinnell (2011) developed a continuum of literacy learning with corresponding leveled text. Others use Lexile levels, Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) levels, Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) scores, grade-level expectations, or various norm-referenced assessments. Although Moses and Ogden assess reading performance of young learners using these tools, they note that a more general understanding of literacy progression helps to inform decisions made about developmentally appropriate practice. The National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and International Reading Association (IRA) identify phases in a continuum of early reading and writing (1998).
Moses and Ogden note that, IRA and NAEYC recommend effective reading instruction for kindergarten and primary grades that includes but is not limited to the following:
Like many English teachers, grading essays remains the part of my job that I enjoy the least. It isn’t just because of the time it consumes or the drudgery it involves. It’s because I’m afraid I’m going to do harm to a student writer under my care.
Years ago, my oldest son was in my sophomore honors English class filled with many of his friends. These were kids I had watched grow up since the second grade, kids who spent time at my house, played in my backyard, making crazy zombie movies that disturbed the neighbors, and now traveled with us to debate tournaments early on Saturday mornings. Perhaps because of my long connection to this group of kids, I put extra effort into grading these students’ essays, spending many Saturdays marking errors and giving copious feedback while I waited to judge rounds at debate tournaments. I knocked myself out for these kids.
Managing classroom libraries requires a delicate balance between organization, choice, behavior, and matching children with appropriate texts. Classroom libraries can be organized in many ways– by genre, series, or some other category. Susan Taberski (2000) suggests having bins of unleveled books from which students choose their independent reading selections and bins of books by level for when they need practice with something "just right." Other teachers label their books using the Fountas and Pinnell A through Z gradient.
Because an "assessed" reading level doesn't always correspond with a student's level of comprehension, it is important that students spend time with more than just independent-level texts. To do this, it is necessary to spend time working with students on independent text selection that supports decoding development, fosters comprehension and thinking, and pique students' interests in reading.