Creating Time and Space for Students to Develop Foundational Mathematical Ideas

“Slow down, you’re moving too fast, you got to make the morning last…”

When we consider early childhood mathematics this familiar song comes to mind. In our hurried society where more is more, childhood expectations have been pushed to earlier and earlier ages. In this environment, the time and space to allow early mathematics to grow deeply is endangered. Structuring opportunities for exploration and discovery of number concepts is the work of master teachers using an artful mathematical story. 

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Making Sense of Story Problems

by Deborah Peart, Grade 2 Lead

Many people have an aversion to word problems. They cringe at the mention of them. In elementary classrooms, teachers often report that this is what their students struggle with most. When word problems show up in math class, even students who enjoy reading will release a sigh and let their shoulders droop. “Do words even belong in math class?” they wonder. The answer is yes, they do! But students need guidance in how to make sense of story problems because in many classrooms they are taught to compartmentalize their learning in math class. While students are often encouraged to integrate social studies and language arts, mathematics is more frequently taught in isolation. In order for students to see math in the world around them, we must consider all the ways in which we can bring mathematics to life through stories.

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Planning for the Student Experience

by Sarah Caban and Kristin Gray

Teachers are so amazing and resilient. Amid all of the many thoughts and feelings about the challenges this school year brings, conversation continually revolves around their students. 

When discussing instruction, teachers wonder: 

  • How will I get to know the students?
  • How will I learn more about what the students are thinking?
  • How will I build a classroom community?
  • How will I support each student along the way? 
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Helping Elementary Students Cultivate a Strong Math Community

by LaToya Byrd and Jenna Laib

School looks different this year. It’s easy to focus on the changes that will need to be made—the new practices, the new routines, the new technologies—but we must first focus on our central beliefs about teaching and learning, and use those beliefs to determine what’s important. It is essential to build a strong classroom community.

What does it look like?

This community should strive to be one where learners know, use, and enjoy mathematics. How do you envision this math class? And how does that relate to your own mathematical experiences? 

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Coming Together Around Distance Learning

By William McCallum

I can’t imagine what it must feel like right now to be a teacher facing the uncharted territory that is the coming school year. Will I be teaching 100% online, or have some face-to-face interaction with my students? Will I be teaching synchronously or asynchronously for most of the school year? How will I get to know my students and how will they engage in one another’s ideas? How will I get to know my students’ families? How can I give them manageable guidance to support students this year? Most of all, where can I get help with all these questions?

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Looking to the Fall, Part 2: Creating a Supportive Resource for K–5 Teachers

By Kristin Gray, Director K–5 Curriculum and Professional Learning
and Kevin Liner, IM K–5 Professional Learning Lead

In our previous post, we highlighted important considerations in planning to support students in the fall. While we need to first explore these ideas conceptually, we must also consider what this looks like in practice. In this post, we explore the unit adaptation materials we are creating under these considerations. We explore this structure through the IM K–5 Math beta curriculum materials being piloted this fall, but we believe this is a generalizable process and structure that could be applied to other materials.   

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Looking to the Fall, Part 1: Welcoming and Supporting K–5 Students

By Kristin Gray, Director K–5 Curriculum and Professional Learning
and Kevin Liner, IM K–5 Professional Learning Lead

It is overwhelming to think about how teaching and learning will look in the fall. The uncertainty of the impact of students missing so many days of school, and the educational inequities that have been magnified as a result of the COVID-19 virus, leave us all with so many unknowns. 

With so much uncertainty, we imagine there may be some knee-jerk reactions to unfinished learning this fall. There may be a temptation to frontload the school year with the prior grade-level content students may have missed or assess each student immediately on arrival back to school and then “fill in” the unfinished learning. As well-intentioned as these ideas may be, we can’t help but think about the impact they could have on students mentally, emotionally, and mathematically as they reenter school. 

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