The Illustrative Mathematics Team Reflect on the 5 Practices

The entire Illustrative Mathematics team spends a lot of time reading about teaching and learning. Most recently, we have been reading—some of us rereading—and reflecting on the 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions by Mary Kay Stein and Margaret Schwan Smith. Members of the team were asked to reflect on the following two questions to share with the Illustrative Mathematics community:

  • What idea stood out to you when reading the 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions?
  • Why do you feel this idea is important?

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Using the 5 Practices with Instructional Routines

By Robin Moore

As a coach, how can I help teachers structure their lesson-planning in order for students to unpack their mathematical understandings?

This question is always at the forefront of my mind as I reflect on my work as an instructional coach. Most times, I walk into classroom after classroom witnessing teachers working harder than the students. To be clear, the students are all on task and working on the mathematical concepts presented to them with little to no behavior problems. The biggest challenge for teachers is attempting to differentiate for the range of learners in the classroom. To address this challenge, teachers have implemented a math workshop format. In this format, teachers communicate the learning objectives for the lesson and present a scaffolded mini-lesson where they gradually lead students through problem-based activities to ensure each student’s success. While the activities are problem-based, something authentic is missing and many would say that the work does not appear rigorous for all students. From a coaching lens, I wonder when and where learning is happening and who is unpacking it.   Continue reading “Using the 5 Practices with Instructional Routines”

How the 5 Practices Changed my Instruction

By Alicia Farmer

I am the type of teacher you want on your teaching team. I am the person that can remember vast amounts of details, predict potential obstacles, and meet any and all deadlines.  

My organized personality is apparent everywhere in my classroom.  From classroom routines to student supplies, everything has its place.  This organization also shows through in how I plan ahead for all of my lessons. Even after 12 years of teaching, I am still not able to “wing it” when teaching a lesson. While I know my organization and meticulous planning are advantages for many aspects of my teaching, I often felt like they kept my instruction from becoming truly student-centered because these characteristics did not leave much room for flexibility. I would have a planned path for a lesson—a very specific, usually teacher-centered, way to get to the end—and never imagined I could rely on my students’ work to guide the pacing, discussion, and overall lesson as effectively as I could.   Continue reading “How the 5 Practices Changed my Instruction”

The 5 Practices Framework: Explicit Planning vs Explicit Teaching

By Kristin Gray

When I first started thinking about how I would complete this sentence, analogies such as a marathon or really hard workout came to mindan activity that is exhausting, a ton of work, but ends with a sense of pride for having completed it. While these analogies were accurate representations of how difficult I think lesson planning truly is, I was continually unhappy with where students and their ideas fit into my analogy.

Planning is like putting together a puzzle.

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The Structure is the Standards

Co-authored by
Bill McCallum, 
Jason Zimba, Phil Daro

A Grecian urn

You have just purchased an expensive Grecian urn and asked the dealer to ship it to your house. He picks up a hammer, shatters it into pieces, and explains that he will send one piece a day in an envelope for the next year. You object; he says “don’t worry, I’ll make sure that you get every single piece, and the markings are clear, so you’ll be able to glue them all back together. I’ve got it covered.” Absurd, no? But this is the way many school systems require teachers to deliver mathematics to their students; one piece (i.e. one standard) at a time. They promise their customers (the taxpayers) that by the end of the year they will have “covered” the standards.

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