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Chapter 2 – Option 1 (Reflection)

01/24/2020 9:13 PM | Karen Campe

Pick out something from the vignette of Deb’s classroom that resonated with you and tell why.


  • 01/26/2020 6:23 PM | Anonymous member
    I really never thought about the negative effect on other students when one student says “this is easy”. I can see how it could completely shut down some students thinking willingness to take risks and perhaps make mistakes. I think that taking the time to use more accurate math language would be worthwhile for both child saying ‘this is easy’ and for the students around that student. I plan to incorporate this into a lesson when it occurs in my class.
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  • 01/26/2020 10:57 PM | Anonymous member
    As a math teacher and having come from a corporate background, when a project was given to my team within a timeframe, it was very helpful to have a discussion among my colleagues to find out what the main goal was of the project and what steps we were going to take in order to achieve our goal. Once the project was completed,we used to say the phrase "that was easy." If anything, it built up our confidence to take on more challenging tasks. However, as I was reflecting on the phrase "that was easy" from an education point of view, especially in early grades, I can see the main point of the author. Yet, for students that struggle in math, we need to incorporate new strategies in order to minimize the gaps the students have so they too can say "that was easy."
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  • 01/29/2020 9:50 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    One thing that resonated with me from the conversation in Deb's class was that a student (Clint) said "Math is everything." I think kids and often adults don't make that connection that math really is part of our every day lives and essential to just about everything we do. I love that this stemmed from Deb asking what does it mean to be good at math. I found students answers fascinating. As I was reading this, I couldn't help but wonder what the teachers I work with as I am a coach would say as a response to that answer. I am thinking of incorporating a reflection about this with teachers in a future PLC meeting or as a way to start off next school year - hoping to recenter our thoughts and making math everything, as Clint said it is.
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    • 02/02/2020 9:36 PM | Anonymous member
      I have to agree with you here. I am a math coach supporting teachers who teach a wide-range of ages (Pre-K through grade 12) and I think it would be fascinating to hear how teachers of all ages would respond to that same question. Recently, I listed to a pod-cast where the math coach advised a teacher to think about what he really wanted his students to remember about math class when they left his classroom as a next step. I think this exchange goes along with what you are saying in your post, we really want our students to see math in everything
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  • 02/02/2020 9:29 PM | Anonymous member
    One of the things from the vignette of Deb's classroom that resonated with me was when Tracy was explaining to some of the students in Deb's room that adults learn how to ask for what they need, whether it is more time, I need to work with someone else or I need help. I think it was powerful for the students to hear that adults also struggle when problem solving. I also think that we need to be teaching kids what their inner dialogue should sound like when they struggle. Far too often, that inner voice turns negative and students begin to feel like they aren't understanding or good at something, when really they just need a different approach, strategy or tool to help them to move forward.
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  • 02/03/2020 11:08 AM | Stacey Daly
    The vignette from Deb's classroom made me think about the importance of taking time to discuss and think about what math is as a subject. The student responses saying math is doing problems on paper is what I think many if not most students think of as math. I love the mini-unit that they did and bringing out math as an area to "notice, wonder, imagine, ask, investigate, figure, reason, connect and prove." I would like to look into my district beginning math instruction each year considering what math is and then building that into their instruction. As Zager wrote, the mini-unit to define what math really is will be pointless if instruction then turns into "I do, we do, you do" demonstrations, guided practice and drills. Math instruction needs to be students investigating and discovering math not rote practice.
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    • 02/07/2020 9:41 PM | Karen Campe
      Stacey, I totally agree! The challenge isn't just to begin with an investigative, open-ended activity, but also to incorporate a variety of math experiences into our teaching throughout the year (not just doing problems on paper).
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  • 02/04/2020 5:44 PM | Becky Lyman
    The piece that meant the most to me from the vignette was when the kids were told that it is ok to "play" with math and that it's ok to be wrong and keep trying. I think so many students are so terrified of being wrong that they don't want to try. They don't think math is fun because we have never given them the time to "play" with math.
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    • 02/07/2020 9:45 PM | Karen Campe
      Becky, I agree, and it is interesting how students respond to the possibility of "being wrong". Students for whom math has come easily are paradoxically the most fearful of being wrong (because then maybe they aren't as "smart at math" as they have been so far). Students who haven't had much success often don't have the confidence to even try things out, they are sure they are wrong before they get started.

      Attempting to encourage a growth mindset, where all of us can grow and build our math strengths, would definitely help get past these negative thoughts.
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  • 02/06/2020 8:56 AM | Stephanie Rousseau
    I really appreciated Tracy and Deb's investigation into what kids actually mean when they say "this is easy". I never thought about it quite in this way before. Taking time to investigate that with students and put more precise language to it, as well as discuss what it means for other students to hear it now, seems important. I'm realizing I have really simplified it in the past and never looked for what it is that students actually mean when they say "this is easy". I love how they created anchor charts for more accurate language to say what the actually mean by saying something is "easy". I run small intervention groups and am in classrooms a lot, so I'm going to take some time to listen for this phrase and interview students about what they actually mean, instead of assuming I know what they mean!
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  • 02/07/2020 9:38 PM | Karen Campe
    At the top of p. 23: “Can mathematicians wonder and try out things and not know what’s going to happen?” just blew my mind. I never thought about math teachers, math experts, and mathematicians as people who might not know where a particular problem-solving strategy might lead them; I assumed that they knew “how to solve”.

    More recently, I’ve explored the idea that mathematicians might have “approaches” that could make progress on a problem, even though they might not know the solution pathway in advance. I’ve tried to communicate this to students; one example is in PreCalculus while verifying trig identities. There are several possible ways to attack these, and I’ve told my students that even I can’t predict which will be fruitful until I’ve tried.
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  • 02/15/2020 7:35 AM | Shelly Jones - elementary teacher educator
    I latched on to the scenario about Jules who found adding on the 100 chart easy but had trouble with subtraction. Although Jules said out loud, "this is easy" when working with addition, she felt sad when Clint said subtraction was "easy, peasy, lemon squeezy" LOL where do they learn these phrases! I thought is was great that the teacher pointed out to Jules that she had done the same thing earlier so that she realizes how other students might have felt when she said addition was easy. I like how students were willing to share their discomfort with some of the words. I loved the new phrases that students thought of. Reading this helps me to remember that even young children are very aware of their feelings and if given the opportunity can learn better ways of expressing how they are making sense (or not) of the math.
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