Planning for Meaningful Practice

There is no shortage of available math resources for teachers to use in their classrooms. The difficult and time-consuming job for teachers is weeding through all of the tools to decide which best supports students in learning mathematics. It is a difficult job because it first involves thinking about how students learn mathematics and then, after choosing a resource, ensure it is being used to best support students’ learning. Our team at Illustrative Mathematics has worked closely with partners such as Khan Academy to align their resources with the IM 6–8 Math curriculum so teachers can feel confident using them in their classrooms to support student learning. In aligning these resources, we keep the focus of how students learn mathematics at the forefront, while considering the type of support the additional resource is providing.    Continue reading “Planning for Meaningful Practice”

Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say

By William McCallum

Blog Post Bill 9.11.18
What patterns do you notice in the count? How would you explain why these patterns occur?

In one of our professional development workshops, there is an activity in which the facilitator asks teachers to skip count by $\frac34$. The facilitator records the count, $\frac34$, $\frac64$, $\frac94$, . . . and then asks for patterns they notice in the recording. In a recent workshop, a group of grade 5 teachers noticed that the numerator increased by 3 each time but that the denominator remained unchanged. When the facilitator asked why, they could easily explain the number of pieces were increasing in the numerator, but couldn’t really give an explanation for the denominator other than “it is just always out of 4.” The funny thing is, they weren’t saying “3 out of 4, 6 out of 4, 9 out of 4” when they skip counted. They were saying “3 fourths, 6 fourths, 9 fourths” and writing it in fraction notation. The key to understanding why the denominator stayed the same was hidden in plain sight, in the very language they were using to name the fractions. Continue reading “Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say”

What is right about wrong answers?

When I first started teaching, at the end of each day, I would open my teacher’s guide, grab my pen, and thumb through the stack of completed worksheets. My eyes would dart quickly from the red answers in the teacher’s guide to the corresponding answers on each student’s page. I would dole out my x’s and checks with finality and authority. When I got to the end of a page, I would tally a percentage score and enter it into my electronic grade book. I approached every piece of student work as if it were a summative assessment.

Continue reading “What is right about wrong answers?”

What I Learned Today: Scale Drawings & Maps

I asked my 15-year-old what she learned today at school. She paused for a moment and then answered,  “What did you learn at school today?”

It took me a while to think about what I had learned (which will make me more patient when I ask her again tomorrow), and then I remembered and shared with her:We are working with some teachers who are using the Illustrative Mathematics 6–8 Math curriculum. The 7th grade teachers are in Unit 1, Scale Drawings. They are working with scale drawings and maps. Today I learned to look more closely at the scale given for a map.

Continue reading “What I Learned Today: Scale Drawings & Maps”

IM Preparing for the School Year

There are always so many things to do in preparation for a new school year.  At this point of the summer, to-do lists start getting made, materials get purchased, rooms are organized, and math class planning begins. Whether you are using the IM 6–8 Math curriculum for the first time or entering your second or third year with the program, there are always new things to learn. While the Illustrative Mathematics blog is packed with great information from curriculum authors, teachers, and coaches, it can often be a job in and of itself to narrow down what to read. Continue reading “IM Preparing for the School Year”

Building a Supportive Home/School Partnership

FAMILY NIGHT DOWNLOADABLE

 

By Kristin Gray, Jenna Laib, Sarah Caban

Open House. Back-to-School Night. Family Welcome. Math Night. No matter what the name of the event that launches the school year, family members will arrive at your school with the same burning questions: What do I need to know to set up my child up for success in math this year? and How can I continue to support them throughout the school year? Continue reading “Building a Supportive Home/School Partnership”

Building a Mathematical Classroom Community

Classroom environments that foster a sense of community that allows students to express their mathematical ideas—together with norms that expect students to communicate their mathematical thinking to their peers and teacher, both orally and in writing, using the language of mathematics—positively affect participation and engagement among all students.

Principles to Action, NCTM

The beginning of the school year offers teachers and students a fresh start full of exciting possibilities. From the first day of class, as we begin to learn about each of the students in front of us, we have the opportunity to set the stage for how learning math will look, sound, and feel throughout the year. We also begin to foster the attitudes and beliefs that are important in shaping a mathematical classroom community in which each and every student is positioned as a capable learner and doer of mathematics, truly believes their voice is valued and heard, and understands that we learn math by doing deep and meaningful mathematics together. Building this classroom community requires a purposeful process that takes time and careful attention. Continue reading “Building a Mathematical Classroom Community”

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