Strength in Numbers


As mentioned in an earlier post, I started reading Ilana Seidel Horn’s Strength in Numbers just as the last month of school began. But as we all know, the end of the year takes over…EOCs, Finals, Prom, Graduation, closing days, packed up 1/2 of an entire school and stored it in our gymnasium for major renovations this summer.  Yep, my book went to the back burner.

Finally, today, I found time to jump in and start reading again…

…at the pool.  A friend’s mom jokingly asked, “Are you studying over there? Don’t rush it, school will be here soon enough.”  My reply, “Yep, reading a book I’ve been looking forward to for several weeks.  And yes, its mathy, I love me some math.”

Again, proof only my online PLN actually get me and my hunger to learn more.  And that’s okay.

Only 2 chapters completed between snacks, reapplying suncreen, having to leave for a camp meeting…but oh, my, so much to think about.

Some of my highlights…

Positive behavior comes from students’ engagement in the subject matter.

Four Principles for Equitable Mathematics Teaching:
   1. Learning is not the same as achievement. (So.true.  Never thought about it quite like this).
        Every student has something mathematically to contribute.
   2. Achievement gaps often reflect gaps in opportunities to learn.  (This one made me sad).
         “Instead of the blame game that begins when we view our students as low-achieving, we can think about how to re-create our classrooms and departments in ways that will increase the opportunities for students across achievement levels to learn by thinking mathematically.” Yes! Pg 14
    3. All students can be pushed to learn mathematics more deeply . (Sad. Again.  We fail to challenge them and provide interesting, engaging tasks).
        ” opportunity gaps affect all students.  A key characterisitic of an equitqble classroom is that ALL students are supported to substantially participate in each phase of instruction…”
   4. Students need to see themselves in mathematics. ( hmmm.  Ready to read more on this one for sure).
       “Mathematics as a subject , has a reputation for being interesting to a narrow group of people… students often feel mathematics allows no room for questioning… in didactic teaching situations, students feel their job is to receive preexisting knowledge.”

I am excited to continue Strength in Numbers.  Already, its challenged me and given me some things to think about…how I can recognize the difference in learning and achievement, how I can look for ways for every student to engage everyday…

…that I am providing opportunities for my highest achieving to learn and move forward just the same as my middle of the road learners and those who struggle as well.  An email this spring from a parent proved this point, ” in 12 years of school, I have not once had a teacher contact me…”  This is a gifted, creative learner who achieves above their peers.  However, I was not seeing growth for them as I had seen in their peers.  Yes, this student was above proficiency, but that didn’t mean my job was finished.  They needed to grow too.  And I was concerned…was it something in my teaching that I needed to adjust?  In order to help every one of my students, I must constantly reflect on my practices and adjust…

So I will continue reading and thinking on these 4 principles-how they are supported or need to be considered in my own classroom.

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