Planning Lessons for a Block Schedule

Having an extended period of time to teach a lesson can be an advantage in a problem-based classroom. Students and teachers can savor the questions that are asked. Activities can breathe in a way that they can’t in a shorter period of time. But questions about planning inevitably arise. We find ourselves asking questions like: Do I simply merge two lessons? What stays? What goes? How do we ensure that we engage our students in the right conversations that will prepare them for the next leg of the journey?

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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.

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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”

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”

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

“Whether we’re asking students to analyze a historical event, reflect on a text, or work toward a scientific discovery, we need to give students a chance to dig into the ideas on their own first.”

By Kristin Gray

I’ve come to think that approaching a lesson plan is like approaching a 500-piece puzzle. It’s hard to know where to start. It takes time. It involves endless trial and error. But when it’s finished – when all the pieces have been put in place – there’s a sense of pride and accomplishment. Continue reading “The 5 Practices Framework: Explicit Planning vs Explicit Teaching”

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