How to Learn Math #12days Post 1


As part of my LTL leadership project, I decided to focus on Growth Mindset in the Mathematics Classroom.  I went through Jo Boaler’s How to Learn Math course a couple of summers ago and it really impacted my personal view of the classroom.  It, along with Max Ray’s Ignite talk 2>4 and the More Good Questions (Marian Small) book, encouraged me to seek out more opportunities to offer open-questions to my students and to become a better listener in my classroom.



Two things happened in one particular class this week…  After a discussion on various ways to multiply 18 and 5, students were asked to multiply 12 and 15 without using the traditional algorithm.  I turned around and 16 students had their hands raised wanted to volunteer their approach.  Most were not the 5 or so who typically want to answer.

What made me most proud.  A couple knew their approach was wrong, but they wanted to know why it didn’t work.  And they were comfortable putting themselves out there to allow their classmates to comment.  That’s a win – coming from a group who plainly stated they did not like to volunteer an answer or be called on randomly because they were afraid of being wrong.

The second thing that made me smile was after a discussion of the Berkeley study about failing math students and the study groups – how talking with peers about their math work actually improved their learning.  Students were first asked to write why they thought student learning improved when you talked about your work to others.  First of all, a minute, not even two minutes was enough time for them to write their responses.  What?  They were engaged and sharing their thinking / opinions / reasoning as to why they thought this happened.  When I asked if anyone would care to share what they wrote…again, numerous hands went up.  Four students in particular who had NEVER volunteered all semester. (HaPpY dAnCe!)

This was my reminder to keep on keeping on.  I sometimes lose sight of why I chose to go a different path than just a few years ago.  And I am grateful for the nudges from my students that re-engergize me to keep moving forward.

For the past month, I have been using my popsicle sticks again to call on students – this eliminates the same 5 or 6 always dominating the class discussions.  I encourage them to wait, no hands up – during certain activities as not to distract their classmates’ thinking.

Per Jennifer McDaniel from Clay County – who led an ACT Bootcamp a few weeks ago, we get new groups/seats every Monday.  I pull out the popsicle sticks and draw for the groups.  This one thing, I believe, has had a huge impact on the climate in all of my classes.  Majority of the students actually seem more settled with new groups each week.

I have so much flowing through my head and need to blog more.  Not to share but to sort out my thoughts and help give me direction as this semester ends and I begin to prepare for next semester.

All in all.  Its been a good year.  I love my students.

#12days Post 1


One response »

  1. I would really love to read more about your work with growth mindset. It’s something I am desperately seeing a need for in me and in my students this year more than ever.

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