What is Math in Practice?

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“What is Math in Practice?” We get that a lot. It might be more important to first talk about why Math 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
  • long worksheets
  • silent practice
  • a teacher telling how to do it
  • one right answer
  • one way to get the answer
  • no group work
  • no manipulatives.

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.

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When is Feedback Most Useful?

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In Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading: Shifting to a Problem-Based Approach, the new book by Vicki Vinton, she writes: 

"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.""

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Combating Summer Slump: Let’s Keep Our Readers Reading

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Photo credit: Ben White

 by Anna Gratz Cockerille 

These days, books have a lot of competition for kids’ attention. Video games, cell phones, tablets, and social media sites all provide tantalizing sources of entertainment for kids of all ages during their off hours. As we move into the summer months, many kids will have a lot of hours to fill. As teachers, we have a lot of power to make sure that at least some of kids’ time this summer is taken up with reading. 

Reading over the summer is particularly crucial for children from lower income families, as study after study has shown. Many of these children already suffer from vast achievement gaps that they can’t afford to widen. Some research estimates that children from middle-income homes read three lines of print for everyone one line read by children from lower income homes. Children from lower income homes simply cannot afford to not read in the summer if they are to catch up. 

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The Arc of Motivation

NNTBT_NoMoreReading4Junk_1There will always be students who struggle with motivation to read. In No More Reading for Junk, Barbara Marinak and Linda Gambrell show that motivation is central to reading development. If students are not motivated to read, then they will not reach their full literacy potential. The authors provide research-based context for fostering reading motivation in children, and share strategies and techniques that are proven to transform students into passionate, lifelong readers.

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PLC Series: Celebrating Voice

Welcome to the Heinemann PD Professional Learning Community Series. This month we celebrate the inspiring work that students and teachers do together every day. 

How do we celebrate student voice? Colleen Cruz suggests we can move toward this by first identifying our own voices. Continue reading