Grades: Grades K-2

Using mathematical routines to engage all learners

On October 15th and 22nd, I’ll share how to use mathematical routines in your classroom to build number sense, develop inquiry, and engage students in the Standards for Mathematical Practice. One thing I love about these routines is how easy they are to implement, and how they have the flexibility to be used as a five-minute warm-up or a full lesson for a wide range of learners at varying grade levels.

When you use instructional routines in your classroom, students are more deeply engaged in the mathematical content because of the familiar and predictable structure. In addition, using routines in sequence provides opportunities for students to build on what they know from previous sessions. Because these tasks are low-floor/high-ceiling and of interesting content, they create an inviting space for even your reluctant students to share their thinking. In turn, as students communicate in mathematical ways through these interactive routines, they develop more mathematical habits of mind.

During the first interactive Workshop on October 15th, we’ll engage in the routines ourselves to experience them from the perspective of a learner. We’ll reflect on each experience, paying special attention to how it can be implemented to support and challenge all our students. We’ll also look at the Standards for Mathematical Practice and consider which standards are highlighted as we engage in each routine. After our first session, you’ll have the chance to try these routines with your students. When we meet again on the 22nd, we’ll share our experiences from implementing these activities within in the classroom. We’ll discuss successes and challenges as well as new ideas and questions.

As you can with other TeachingPartners Live Workshops, you can earn a six-hour Certificate of Participation from TeachingPartners for your participation in both Workshop sessions. And, if you add your phone number during registration, TeachingPartners will text you reminders as we get closer to the date.

Expanding the Boundaries of the History Classroom

“No teacher ever walked through the supermarket and heard “Hey Mr. Skomba, that multiple choice assessment you gave us at the end of Chapter 27 really changed my life!”

“I fondly remember the teachers who subbed out traditional assessments with Project Based Learning in order to make “history come alive.” Carrying that torch of authentic assessment, I enjoy pushing young people to deconstruct and reconstruct their perspectives on the world around them in personalized and creative ways. Research has shown that students inordinately value how history content relates to their own lives and if it will be on the test. Why not leverage their own skills and interests and re-conceptualize assessment at the same time?’

“In the first session we will explore rationales behind using driving questions and project/problem-based learning (PBL). We will discuss ways to establish a culture of questioning and risk-taking where students of any background can contribute. We will conclude the session with practical ways to apply PBL and tasks for the weeks between sessions. Although heavy on the theoretical side, the workshopping of PBL will provide concrete next-steps.

“In the second session we will review the artifacts that the group brings to the table. We will also discuss other examples of PBL that I have found success with. Lastly, we will review resources and create a PBL assessment with a current event of the groups choosing, leveled for all involved.

“As you can with other TeachingPartners Live Workshops, you can earn a six-hour Certificate of Participation from TeachingPartners for your participation in both Workshop sessions. And, if you add your phone number during registration, TeachingPartners will text you reminders as we get closer to the date.”

Introducing open-ended problem solving to engage students in mathematical procedures and outcomes.

Traditionally, teaching problem-solving in mathematics includes presenting students with “closed problems” that encourage them to follow a single procedure to reach a single outcome.

I’m moving away from this approach in my class. Instead, I’m encouraging students to approach math problems with many different strategies for reaching a single solution. I’m also asking them to help establish a context for specific mathematical problems so that they can see the real-world application of the math skills they’re developing.

Here’s how I do it:

  • First, I listen closely to students to discover the subjects students are interested in and what they care about.
  • Next, I pose questions asking how they would approach a particular problem and facilitate their research in the interest area.
  • Then, I introduce ways they can apply math skills as part of a related project.

For example: When one student became interested in helping polar bears, I turned this interest into an opportunity for problem solving for the whole class. Through questioning, I was able to lead the students to discovering and solving open-ended mathematical problems related to this real-world project.

Open-ended problem solving is important because kids want to come up with their own ideas when they solve problems. Providing this opportunity makes me feel like a “true teacher.” I’m not giving students answers, sharing procedures, or telling them how to do things. Instead, they’re learning through their own process—one I facilitate by asking questions. And, my whole classroom community benefits: I can more easily give extra time to students who need more foundational, procedural practice and students who are ready to engage more have the opportunity to do so.

Using author’s craft to build student comprehension and to model writing.

Looking at literature closely helps build comprehension and eventually students can use the strategies they identify in their own writing.

In my capacity as an instructional coach in literacy, it’s central to my practice to help build confidence of both students and teachers. I work with teachers in lesson planning, do observations in the classroom, and interact directly with children.

Sometimes, I go into the classroom and work with groups of students to model the strategy for teachers. Other times, I work with the entire class and do a shared reading, then talk about what we noticed.

There is also a lot of behind the scenes work where I work with a teacher to do lesson planning. For example, we work on “sign-posts” or the moments in the lesson where students turn and talk, or the times when you let students grapple with a problem.