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”

The IM 6–8 Math Curriculum Changed My Math Methods Experience

By Anna Polsgrove

When I first started the Math Methods course at University of California, Irvine, all of my ideas on how to learn math took a complete 180.

During the first two months, a million questions swirled in my head as I worked through problems with my classmates: We don’t just teach the algorithm anymore? What do you mean “use representations to build conceptual understanding”? What is an area diagram? What are all of the multiple strategies to solve a problem? How am I supposed to anticipate misconceptions when I have never taught the curriculum?, just to name a few. Continue reading “The IM 6–8 Math Curriculum Changed My Math Methods Experience”

Instructional Materials Matter: Interpreting Remainders in Division

By Jody Guarino

We know instructional materials play a key role in student learning experiences but how do we ensure our students are learning from coherent high-quality instructional materials that engage them in critical thinking and provide opportunities to “do math?”

Let’s think about this from the lens of a 4th grade standard, 4.OA.A3: Solve multi-step word problems posed with whole numbers and having whole-number answers using the four operations, including problems in which remainders must be interpreted. Represent these problems using equations with a letter standing in for the unknown quantity. Assess the reasonableness of answers using mental computation and estimation strategies including rounding. Continue reading “Instructional Materials Matter: Interpreting Remainders in Division”

Adapting Curriculum For Students to Know, Use and Enjoy Fractions

By Melissa Greenwald

You know it is time for a change when half of the students in class are lost by the third lesson of a new unit.

I teach third grade in a charter school in Philadelphia. We use Go Math! and each year I have followed Chapter 8: Understand Fractions, exactly as written. In the first lesson, students name equal parts in pictures such as halves, thirds, and fourths, and then move into finding equal shares. By the third day, when we discuss unit fractions, I feel like I have already lost about half of my students. Despite this, I usually trudge along and move into the fourth lesson where students are asked to identify the shaded fraction of different shapes. By the end of the lesson, my students typically have learned the rote skill of counting the number of shaded and total pieces in order to write the fraction. This becomes incredibly evident when we move to putting fractions on a number line and problematic when problem solving with fractions. Continue reading “Adapting Curriculum For Students to Know, Use and Enjoy Fractions”

Warm-up Routines With a Purpose

By Kristin Gray

As a teacher, curiosity around students’ mathematical thinking was the driving force behind the teaching and learning in my classroom. To better understand what they were thinking, I needed to not only have great, accessible problems but also create opportunities for students to openly share their ideas with others. It only makes sense that when I learned about routines that encouraged students to share the many ways they were thinking about math such as Number Talks, Notice and Wonder, and Which One Doesn’t Belong?, I was quick to go back to the classroom and try them with my students. It didn’t matter which unit we were in or lesson I had planned for that day, I plopped them in whenever and wherever I could because I was so curious to hear what students would say. Continue reading “Warm-up Routines With a Purpose”

A Fraction Unit Does Not Always Begin With Lesson 1

By Jared Gilman

As I sat down at my local coffee shop to plan my upcoming 5th grade unit on fractions, a wave of dread spread across my body. I started having flashbacks to last winter, when my students’ frustrations with fractions led to daily meltdowns. Looking back at my lesson plans, I noticed how many reteaching lessons I was forced to add into the middle of my unit. I recalled the painstaking hours of scouring YouTube for videos on the “easiest tricks” and “fastest shortcuts” for adding and subtracting fractions. “My students just didn’t get it,” I thought at the time. This year would be different, I told myself as I gulped down my large iced coffee.

Continue reading “A Fraction Unit Does Not Always Begin With Lesson 1”

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