Thinking Together by Rozlynn Dance & Tessa Kaplan.
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Thinking Together

9 Beliefs for Building a Mathematical Community

Want students to understand—really understand—and retain the math they’re learning? Focus on building your classroom community first. In Thinking Together, veteran teachers Rozlynn Dance and Tessa Kaplan explore nine beliefs that lead to a powerful community of learners. When students are part of a classroom where they feel valued and included, they are more likely to take risks, ask questions, and grow exponentially as mathematicians.

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Full Description

Want students to understand—really understand—and retain the math they’re learning? Focus on building your classroom community first.

In Thinking Together, veteran teachers Rozlynn Dance and Tessa Kaplan explore nine beliefs that lead to a powerful community of learners. When students are part of a classroom where they feel valued and included, they are more likely to take risks, ask questions, and grow exponentially as mathematicians.

Rozlynn and Tessa tell us, “We must create a kind, caring, trusting community of learners who feel comfortable tackling the unknown, taking risks, and making mistakes.” This book doesn’t pretend teaching is simple—instead, it celebrates the potential in the everyday messiness of learning together. Each chapter includes:

  • opportunities to reflect on your practice through an exploration of beliefs such as “Mistakes are great!” and “It’s not just about the answer”
  • practical guidance for building your classroom community through student-centered strategies and classroom examples
  • “When Things Don’t Seem to be Working” sections for troubleshooting common challenges and adapting to teaching that doesn’t go as planned.
An environment fine-tuned for learning creates conditions in which your students can thrive as mathematical thinkers. Thinking Together will help shape your beliefs about what it means to be a learning community and provide support for building those beliefs into your classroom.

Contents

1: Creating a Community of Mathematicians

  • Qualities of Effective Mathematics Instruction
  • Key Beliefs That Support Effective Mathematics Instruction

2: A Respectful Community of Learners

  • Respect: Why It Matters
  • Encouraging Respect Within the Classroom
  • When Things Don't Seem to Be Working

3: Building Brave Mathematicians

  • Mathematical Confidence: Why It Matters
  • Encouraging Mathematical Confidence
  • When Things Don't Seem to Be Working

4: Great Minds Think Differently

  • Multiple Strategies and Justification: Why They Matter
  • Encouraging Multiple Strategies and Justification
  • When Things Don't Seem to Be Working
  • One Last Tip: Be Careful with Praise

5: Thinking Through Questioning

  • Questioning: Why It Matters
  • Effective Teacher Questioning
  • Effective Student Questioning
  • When Things Don't Seem to Be Working

6: Keeping Up the Momentum

  • Invest the Time
  • Keep It Student-Centered and Let Go!
  • Maintain a Growth Mindset
  • Set One Goal at a Time and Be Deliberate
  • Celebrate Successes

Appendices

  • Appendix A: Math Attitude Survey
  • Appendix B: Problem-Solving Planning Template
  • Appendix C: Problem Solving Planning Template with Guiding Questions

Recommended Resources

References

In Depth

Throughout this book, Rozlynn Dance and Tessa Kaplan provide specific strategies that will help you make decisions that benefit all of the learners in your class. You’re about to read a math book that isn’t only about math. It’s really a book about the conditions that maximize learning for any child in any content area. 

It’s important that the focus of this book is on math, because so many children (and teachers) lack confidence in math. Students and adults often feel that their disposition toward math is set, thinking that they are either good at math or not good at math. Rozlynn and Tessa show us that isn’t true. They show us strategies teachers can use that will help improve children’s disposition toward math and solving problems (and other content areas as well). And those dispositions are critical. By focusing on dispositions and key principles about learning math, Rozlynn and Tessa provide teachers and students with ideas and skills that will last long beyond the school year. 

All children deserve to be in a classroom that nurtures their identities as mathematicians, writers, and readers. To have a positive mathematical identity, all children have to willingly and enthusiastically engage in mathematical thinking each day. Teachers, and the decisions they make, significantly impact children’s disposition and identity whether they realize it or not. This book supports your ability to create classroom communities that nurture all children as thinkers. 

— Forward

Samples

Companion Resources

Thinking Together Posters
Math Attitude Survey
Problem-Solving Planning Template
Problem-Solving Planning Template with Guiding Questions

Reviews

"You're about to read a math book that isn't only about math. It's really a book about the conditions that maximize learning for any child in any content area."

—Matt Glover, coauthor of I Am Reading and Already Ready

"This book offers so much that can inspire teachers who feel like they’ve been 'going through the motions' during math time."

—Kathy Collins, coauthor of No More Mindless Homework and author of Growing Readers and Reading for Real