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From Math Success to Math Power

Lafayette School District Math Professional Development and Practices

 

Historically, across the country success in math has largely consisted of computation and accurately following mathematical procedures. While proficiency with computation and procedure is necessary, it is not sufficient. To be truly powerful math thinkers, students must understand concepts, justify their reasoning, and apply their understanding and number sense to solve problems. Our District has worked for the past eight years on shifting these practices in the area of math. Our math coaches initially talked about Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, as he describes the difference between the number-naming systems in Western and Asian languages and the way they are constructed.  In English, we don’t use words that are logical- we use fourteen, sixteen, nineteen, etc., so you might expect that we would also use oneteen or twoteen,  but we don’t. We use words that don’t even relate like eleven and twelve. In Asian countries, the counting system is logical. For example, eleven is ten-one, twelve is ten-two and so on. The difference between these two systems results in Asian children learning to count much faster and to perform basic functions such as addition far more easily than American children. Our less logical system relies on rote learning and the fact that math doesn’t make sense, and the rules seem arbitrary and complicated. It also limits the process of children using patterns and sensible ways of figuring out math problems. The more logical way promotes that students enjoy math more and they try harder because it make sense. In our District, we have structured math curriculum and instruction to focus on understanding how math works, having strong number sense develop powerful math thinkers, understand concepts, justify their reasoning, and apply their understanding and number sense to solve problems. All math teachers were part of these critical stepping stones in our shifts in practices. Additionally, the District has continued to deepen our work with Carol Dweck’s transformative “Mindset” and Jo Boaler’s Mathematical Mindsets. We continue to learn and share with our school community our enhanced focus on deeper thinking and application of math concepts. Our goal is to foster an environment that lets students build their resilience, intelligence, and their capacity to “make sense of complex problems and persevere in solving them.”

 

Supporting and Challenging all Levels:

  • District-wide Problem of the Month (POM) is being implemented in many classrooms across our district.The POM  is an opportunity to build classroom, school, and district communities of problem solvers and learners.       

  • District-wide Math Professional Learning Community (PLC) is in it’s second year facilitated by a first and sixth grade teacher.. This group of dedicated teachers are meeting monthly to deepen their own practices and skills along with collaborating with colleagues to find the best ways of supporting each other and raising the level of knowledge as a collective group. They have focused on having two lesson studies to deepen practices and support student learning.

  • Our District has continued our partnership with Silicon Valley Math Initiative and the professional development opportunities they provide.   

  • Stanley Math Department and Elementary Math PLC’s are collaborating and focusing in on resources and practices. These include open-ended tasks, the power of mistakes and struggle, flexibility with numbers, four star rubrics, rich mathematical tasks  low-floor, high-ceiling problems, flexible grouping, focus on strategies, application, activities to build student flexibility with multiple strategies to approach problems, and articulation of math understanding to name a few.

  • Math Support- extra sections of math support, 5 days of weekly math help (lunch and after school)

  • Lower class size at Stanley in all math and math support classes.

  • Do the Math intervention supported 373 students last year 2nd - 5th grade that improved by an average of 53% from the beginning assessment to the ending assessment.

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Deepening our practices in math is a priority area of focus for our District. There is a high level of commitment and enthusiasm, and teachers are excited by the dramatic differences they are seeing with students’ mathematical thinking and reasoning, their improved level of stamina and perseverance through problems and their positive perceptions of themselves as mathematicians.

Stanley Middle School Math

FOCUS OF MATH WORK IN LAFAYETTE

 

  • Historically, success in math has largely consisted of facility with computation and accurately following mathematical procedures.

 

  • While proficiency with computation and procedure is necessary, it is not sufficient.

 

  • To be truly powerful math thinkers, students must understand concepts, justify their reasoning, and apply their understanding and number sense to solve problems.

 

Math Shifts in the Common Core

 

Students will…

Parents should…

UNDERSTAND why the math works. MAKE the math work.

Notice whether your child REALLY knows why the answer is what it is.

TALK about why the math works.

Provide TIME for your child to work hard with math at home.

PROVE that they know why and how the math works.

Get smarter in the math your child needs to know.

 

KIM ISAACS AND HER 4th GRADE STUDENTS PARTICIPATE IN A MATH TALK

 


 

MATH TALKS WITH ANDY

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