Thursday, May 28, 2015

Teaching Numeracy: Habit #1 - Monitor & Repair Understanding

Welcome back to my Teaching Numeracy series! Today, I'll be sharing Habit #1 with you! 

Habit #1 is about monitoring and repairing understanding. I really appreciated this chapter because this chapter presented ways that you can get students to own monitoring and repairing their own understanding! This aspect is just what I needed because sometimes it gets so hard to even think of ways that I can do more, be more, see more. So, I'm going to highlight the strategies that assist students in looking at their own understanding.

First, let's talk homework!

Margie Pearse shared a strategy that she picked up from one of her son's teachers. She calls this strategy "Working Answer Keys." What is a working answer key? Well, it's basically a homework answer key that you share with students. In this answer key, you go through the process of finding the correct answer so that students can check their process along with their final answer. After all, we want them to see where there mistakes are in the process, not just whether or not their answer is correct.

BUT--wont they copy the answer key? Sure, they might. However, in order to be proactive and hopefully alleviate this occurrence, you need to spend a lot of time in the beginning teaching students how to use a working answer key as well as how not to use a working answer key. This includes teaching students how to talk through the answers together as well as a plan for copying. While you're building this expectation, let students know explicitly that copying will not be tolerated and call home immediately if you notice a student copying your work. If you explain to students why it's not ok to copy, they'll also have that reiterated by their peers when their peers see them copy.

If you're're not learning.

Plus, there's something that I like to say:

"You don't have to be right, you just have to try! Mistakes are proof that you're trying and learning."

So, the first takeaway is to consider working answer keys next year! I can see so many benefits here. Of course, if you want to read the full extent of her working answer key plan, you'll need to pickup the book for the full explanation! 

My second takeaway was to do more think aloud while I'm solving problems. The author notes that students don't understand that the "smart kids" or teacher are processing too. They just think that we're smarter than them. There is an incredible amount of value to be found in showing them HOW you're processing and HOW you're working through problem solving. 

This brings me back to something that I tried to accomplish this year, which was mathematical discourse. I definitely stumbled here and I know that I need to do a better job next year. I really wanted my students to use more mathematical language and explain why they agree or do not agree with another students work.

The reality is that, at the end of the year, students still come up to solve a problem and scribble out the answer as quickly as possible and then walk back to their seats without saying a single word. This means that I end up doing all of the explaining of what the student did to solve the problem. This is exactly the opposite of what I hoped to accomplish because now it's still just me telling them how to solve something. Yuck. Next year, I really hope to train them more to use language and talk through their mathematical thinking.

So, do you have any strategies for building strong mathematics discourse? What are your struggles or successes with this?


Post a Comment