Tuesday, April 14, 2015

NCSM Boston, 2015. Monday

A room full of math coaches! 

NCSM Boston. Some of my Monday notes.

Jo Boaler’s Keynote
On teacher attitudes
We urgently need to shift teachers, parents, and students ideas about who can achieve in mathematics.
Students of color and girls show the sharpest increase in achievement with mindset interventions.

On achievement
The lowest achievers in the world are the "memorizers".
The highest achievers in the world are those who think about big ideas and connections.

On mistakes
Every time you make a mistake in math a synapse fires. When you get a question correct, there is no brain growth.
Teachers should encourage mistakes.
Students need open and challenging work so they will make mistakes.
Teachers need to change classroom culture to openly value mistakes.

Jo has a new version of her book, called What’s Math Got To Do With It
Jo is working on a Week of Inspirational Math, a series of free lessons designed to be used for the first week of school.

Susan Jo Russell
How "Lingering" on Ideas about the Meaning of the Operations Can Include All Students in Significant Learning

Access and equity
Engaging students with challenging tasks, discourse, and open-ended problem solving has the potential to raise the mathematics achievement of all students, including poor and low income students.

"Productive lingering" is essential to engaging in mathematical argument for all.

Amy Lucenta, Grace Kelemanik, Susan Creighton
Engaging ALL Learners in Mathematical Practices through Instructional Routines

All students must be able to…
Interpret and chunk complicated objects,
connect representations
change the form of the numbers, expressions, space, etc. to create and leverage equivalences,
recall and use properties, rules of operations and geometric relationships,
and find the right distance from a problem...i.e. shift perspective.

The math practices open doors for struggling students.

Problems were presented and the audience was asked what we noticed. We were encouraged to find “shortcuts”. However, the shortcuts are based on mathematical reasoning, and are one way to facilitate productive math classes.

If we don't seal the deal with a meta-reflection, we are just talking about strategies.

Students generate “Ask Myself” questions.
Next time I will ....before I calculate because....
Paying attention to ....is helpful because....

Deborah Ball, et al
How can explicitness about mathematical practices support equitable instruction?

Deborah Ball teaching video
Task: Make as many 3 digit numbers as possible using the digits 4, 5, and 6.

I would like someone to give a wrong answer to this problem.
Do others agree this is wrong?
Can someone share one reason why it is not one of the answers?

Explicit teaching…
… unpacks practices or knowledge to make it open to learners, not doing it for them.
...is not about the teacher demonstrating.
...seeks to maintain complexity but make complex practice accessible to all students.

Students do the work, teacher highlights what they just did. Makes elements visible, provides language and supports.

I have opinions about the idea that “mathematicians are lazy” and the term “shortcuts”. I won’t share those now, nor will I write about more speakers I saw on Monday, or all the other questions and thoughts I have, because I am tired and have to get to sleep. Another time.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Student Self-Assessment

I want to send a huge shout out to Bill Ferriter, here in Burlington from Raleigh, North Carolina. Bill is a sixth grade science teacher with a year-round school schedule that allows him to visit us during our academic year. He is helping Burlington educators improve our collaborative process and our work with students.

One of my big takeaways from spending time with Bill is the importance of student self-assessment. Teaching teams in Burlington have begun creating unit overviews which are given to students so they can chart their learning. Unit overviews vary depending on the teachers and grade level, but most have a way for students to indicate what they know and can do relative to important learning targets. Older students might make a mark on a line somewhere between “Not Yet” and “Got It”, while younger students color in a box or a smiley face next to a skill they have mastered. More important than the format is the fact that students work on their awareness of their own learning. They begin to take responsibility for assessing themselves, rather than leaving that up to parents and teachers.

Researchers and thought leaders in education from Marzano to Wiggins to Hattie agree -- students who are aware of their learning objectives and who are responsible for assessing, charting and sharing their own progress are more likely to be successful. Yet, according to Bill and others, students are rarely asked to assess themselves.

I have been studying the Common Core Standards for years, especially in math at the elementary level, and I think they are mostly wonderful. The content standards emphasize conceptual understanding and depth over breadth. The practice standards focus on critical skills like problem-solving, constructing viable arguments, and critiquing the reasoning of others. An activity like problem-solving requires a good deal of self-awareness and the ability to “...monitor and evaluate their progress and change course if necessary” (a direct quote from the CCSSM). So, in order to master the standards, students would need to have a measure of meta-cognition. However, student self-assessment is not an explicit part of the standards, nor is it an obvious feature in a Common Core program like Eureka Math (EngageNY).

So, how do we ensure students are responsible for self-assessment if it doesn't appear in the standards and programs? Using unit overviews is one way. When a PLC  team creates a unit overview, they have the opportunity to collaboratively determine the most important learning targets for their students. In doing so, they have also created a product that students can use to know their goals and take charge of their learning.