This past month I have been doing a book study with a few people in the blog world. So I am linking up with Sherrie at Middle School Math Rules as she is the one that started this book study! The book is called Minds on Mathematics - Using Math Workshop to Develop Deep understanding in Grades 4-8 by Wendy Ward Hoffer.
Chapter 1 & 2 and from Chapter 3 & 4.
Next up: Chapters 5 & 6.
Chapter 5: Discourse
Problem of the Day: Why ought and how can teachers facilitate learners' engagement in purposeful and meaningful conversations about their thinking?
Postulate: Students deepen their mathematical understanding by articulating their thinking, as well as responding to the ideas of others, during intentional classroom conversations.
Discourse engages learners, promotes understanding, develops communication and collaboration skills and supports academic language development. What more could you ask for.
On page 68 it talks about QRE (question response evaluation). A typical teacher does this, I know I have. The first thing that comes to mind is integers. I'm constantly making up story problems or real life money situations for them to understand -4. I need to turn it over to them and ask them to put it in a story and see what they come up with. If they see 6-10= They need to engage in conversations with peers about why if you had 6 dollars, but you owed someone 10, why you would end up with -4. They need to take ownership and be able to think and respond to others thinking.
Students need to know that it is okay to change their mind (ch 4). In order to understand something, you need opportunities to test and defend theories and see if what you thought really is true. Discourse welcomes multiple approaches and half of the time when you get something wrong you will learn more than if you got it correct. Incorrect answers are stepping stones to understanding. (First you have to build a strong community).
"Learning is more likely to change through dialogue and reflection than through lecture and imposition." -this just proves we need to change our way of teaching. No more lecturing and more challenging questions with lots of conversations. Teachers need to talk less and listen more.
I really like all of the bullet points throughout the chapter. They all offer great descriptions on how to run your classroom and the types of questions to ask that will help reflection.
This chapter really offers good advice on how to turn your classroom around and make it more student centered. Students are describing, listening, thinking, talking, and working. But we also need to model how to have good conversations that stay on task and halt any side conversations that occur. This happens through good modeling and guiding. When a student can teach another student how to do something, they not only are understanding it better, but many times learners can explain ideas more accessible to students in the group so that student understands it more.
An ah ha moment for me was to not jump in and say things like "you are exactly right." Even if a learner is exactly right, by announcing that to the group, you have stopped all thinking because now they have the "answer".
I really liked all the sentence starters. I think those will be beneficial to have hung around the room. And I really like the 4 ways to handle students who say "I don't know" on page 79.
Overall, this really helped me in how to set up my classroom and how students need to be the driving force in the classroom. They need to be the ones opening conversations, they need to be the ones defending their answers with good support, they need to challenge one another, they need to be in charge of their own learning. The teacher is there to facilitate learning and model expectations. They need to step aside and allow the students to shine and show that they are capable of brilliance.
Chapter 6: Opening
Problem of the Day: How do you start math class?
Postulate: The launch pad for an effective math workshop is a crisp opening that welcomes learners, invites them to connect to their own background knowledge, and sets purpose for learning.
This chapter made me feel like I'm on the right track with how I open my class. I am always at my door greeting the students as they come in, smiling, and welcoming them to math!
The teacher that was in my room before me left me a lot of resources and for the most part, I use quite a bit of them. I know she was a great teacher so I took anything that was given to me, especially since this job was my first teaching job. One of the things she left me was her "board work" (warm-ups to start the day). They are interactive and the students can basically lead the lesson. The students get 3 minutes to complete 10 questions and all the questions are things that we have already covered or are about to be covered. So it activates their prior knowledge and gets their brains thinking about math. If I was in a hurry, sometimes I would answer questions that students had at the end of the 3 minutes, but I really tried to let this be all student centered. That is something I will need to continue to work on next year. I would like them to come up to the board more often and show their work along with describing their thinking (good questioning offered on page 93 and chart on 95). There are 30 or so different board works to choose from so instead of just going in order, I need to try and make them more intentional and decide which board work will go best with each lesson; that way it can lead right into the mini lesson. I structure the board work so I only collect papers every other week and it seems to work well in my class; I do also like the ideas represented on pg 96. Anyone can email me if they are interested in taking a look at these. Jilliancmorris@gmail.com
I like the ideas presented on pages 92 & 93 that talk about the 4 questions that get slightly more detailed and complex. This helps them show what they know instead of just solving.
As mentioned before, a man named Mark Forget has done a few seminars for our school and he focuses a lot on setting purpose. I really made a point to set purpose each day last year and I really noticed a difference. "A students purpose as a math learner in any given class ought to be more than getting through the lesson, but rather exercising a growth mindset, mastering content, and also honing her endurance as a problem solver, as well as her skills as a thinker." This line really stood out to me. They need to be able to have metacognition, which is a tough thing to grasp (they need to establish what they know, what they need to know, their confusion, what questions to ask...).
I loved the homework ideas represented on page 100. I plan on using all of these next year! (Tally check, Share and compare, Clickers, Weekly quiz). I have been thinking about homework solutions for awhile now (because I spent too much time on it last year and it was not beneficial-I was just calling out answers and if the students wanted me to go over one, I would. This would have been a great opportunity for the students to share/discuss/show alternative methods and I feel that after reading this, it gave me the ideas I need.
After reading this chapter, overall I'm pleased with how I open my classroom, I just need to tweak the resources I have to be more student centered and intentional with the day's purpose. I also need to alter my homework purpose.