Tag Archives: Math

The 5 Features of a Motivated Classroom

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The following is adapted from Motivated: Designing Math Classrooms Where Students Want to Join In, by Ilana Seidel Horn

In her new book, Motivated, author Ilana Seidel Horn outlines the features of a motivational classroom. Based on her research, Horn has found that a motivational classroom attends to the following five features:

  • students’ sense of belongingness
  • the meaningfulness of learning
  • students’ competence
  • structures for accountability
  • students’ autonomy.

Teachers can foster all of these through deliberate instructional design as they tinker to motivate their students. Here's where to start:

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How Do I Use Math In Practice With Other Math Programs?

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Math in Practice can be used with nearly any math program or approach.  To help you match your instruction with the books, we've created crosswalks to several commonly used math approaches and programs. These crosswalks are available for each grade level, and cover:

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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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Heinemann Fellow Katie Charner-Laird on Empowering Choice in a Math Workshop

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In this research journey, where I have been trying to map successful literacy workshop practices onto a math workshop, I have been considering the element of choice a great deal. From a very young age, children are taught how to select “just-right books.” The emphasis is on choice. Choice matters because it increases engagement. Choice matters because it encourages ownership. Choice matters because when our children leave us, we need them to continue choosing to read whether we are there or not. We teach them to choose books so that they will continue to choose books for their entire lives.

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In Math, Context is Critical

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Today's math teachers have a lot to balance. From following the Standards for Mathematical Practice, to incorporating real-life application into math problems, to finding resources that are flexible enough to meet a range of students' needs. 

Cathy Fosnot's Contexts for Learning Mathematics is a rigorous K-6 classroom resource that uses a workshop environment to bring the Standards for Mathematical Practice to life. Rich, authentic contexts provide a backdrop for fostering the use of mathematical models as thinking tools, tenacious problem solving, and the reading and writing of mathematical arguments and justifications to ensure the development of a positive growth mindset.

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How the Standards for Mathematical Practice Support Teachers

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How can we break the cycle of frustrated students who “drop out of math” because the procedures just don’t make sense to them? Or who memorize the procedures for the test but don’t really understand the mathematics? Max Ray and his colleagues at the Math Forum @ Drexel University say “problem solved,” by offering their collective wisdom about how students become proficient problem solvers, through the lens of the CCSS for Mathematical Practices. They unpack the process of problem solving in fresh new ways and turn the Practices into activities that teachers can use to foster habits of mind required by the Common Core.

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