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Chapter 3 – Option 2 (Connection)

01/31/2020 11:00 PM | Karen Campe

The chapter details 3 classroom examples in which the teachers’ language, tasks, and instructional strategies encouraged their students to take on challenges. Comment on one strategy, teacher move, or feedback phrasing from Heidi’s, Cindy’s, or Shawn’s classrooms that you use or aspire to use in your teaching.


  • 02/01/2020 2:12 PM | Peggy Bell
    When I read chapter 3 and think about all three teachers' language, tasks and instructional strategies, they foster risk taking and not obedience. I like to think in our district and my classroom we foster risk taking in all facets. When Shawn says, "I need someone to get us started, is there a volunteer to try we will help", it bolsters confidence. Working in pairs and groups puts the learning back on students. Students need to be comfortable sharing when they are unsure of a problem and not pretending they know what is going on. Second, students need to share their thinking with the teacher facilitating the conversation to get things moving. Lastly, they need to experiment with different solutions and work together to prove or disprove it. A classroom environment that fosters risk taking will ensure all students will attack problems and not let the others in the group solve it. By fostering a risk taking classroom children will take risks every day and grapple with a messy concept with teacher guidance and support. A teacher's language is very important as portrayed in Shawn's vignette.
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  • 02/01/2020 3:34 PM | Alison Foley
    I aspire to use more of the written feedback on student work like Cindy uses with her young students. I have been using specific feedback for quite some time now (i.e. "you are providing a great model of an array to show your multiplication work - remember to include labels to connect your model to the problem."). I think Cindy's feedback really pushes students to take risks and venture out of their comfort zone. She clearly focuses less on the right answer and more on mathematical thinking. In order to challenge my students more, I have started to refer to the list on page 44 for written comments for student work. As a math coach, I am planning to share this list with teachers as well. The comments are positive and encouraging to students - it makes them feel confident yet also urges them to take it a step further. I aspire to use Cindy's method of "using individualized written feedback to urge students to push their mathematical thinking in a supported way (p. 39)."
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    • 02/02/2020 12:59 PM | Nicole Gilson
      I really like your idea to refer to page 44 for written comments for student work. I will also share this with staff - it's time consuming, but an important practice.
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  • 02/03/2020 2:55 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Truthfully, I would want to aspire to techniques all 3 used. Over the last few years, I have tried hard to work on my feedback to students. I try to give actionable feedback and try to avoid telling students they are are right. Sometimes I find it so hard to write feedback for the student who has it all right. I will definitely be looking to Cindy's examples to help push students. I want to incorporate more the idea of "challenging" both acknowledging those who are trying to challenge themselves and those who play it safe. Push students to take risks and strong effort is where I want to strive for.
    It's also interesting as I read this, as I have meet Shawn a number of times, and reading about him in the classroom is so fascinating, because he is such a great person, it's nice to know that his every day personality is heightened in his classroom. I certainly appreciate how he let's students know that being unsure is not just something they feel, but that often how many feel and that its okay to feel that. Often I think I need to slow down and acknowledge that uncertainty for students.
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  • 02/06/2020 8:12 AM | Alisha Signore
    I really like the idea of the "today's number routine"- writing down and sharing everything you notice about a number organically. We do this with the daily number corner calendar but it narrows it down to just a number and encourages the student to think deeply about it. I really like how she then took a student's thinking and made a poster out of. This clearly validates a student's thinking, provides insight to how the student is thinking and serves as a model for others. I would like to try this and instead of having students just share orally- write down what they're thinking about a specific noticing.
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  • 02/07/2020 9:56 PM | Karen Campe
    I was particularly struck by Heidi’s use of wait time, which was so difficult for me to implement when I was a classroom teacher (I’m a talker, so I tended to fill the silences too quickly; my remedy was to hold my hands behind my back and literally count to 5 using my fingers). I also liked how Heidi engaged students in substantive math thinking, moving them beyond surface noticings *without* shutting them down and instead calling on the students who “get it” quickly (and have their hands raised first).

    Shawn does a great job of supporting “incomplete, partially formed, or tentative thinking” (p. 48) and keeps his students engaged in the math even though they aren’t immediately on track to a solution. I aspire to do this in my one-on-one work with students, and I feel I’m successful to a large degree, helping students see that partial progress helps get them to fuller understanding (vs. giving up because they don’t see a clear way to a solution.)

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  • 02/09/2020 6:36 PM | Anonymous member
    As I read through the scenarios in Heidi, Cindy and Shawn's classrooms, I really connected to Shawn's feedback phrasing with Lucy. The way he shared with Lucy and the class that they would all be there to help and reminded her that the whole class was unsure really sent a message of support from the teacher while sending the message that he expected others to support Lucy as she took the risk to begin solving the problem. This entire chapter really made me think about the power of our words and the feedback we give to our students. Changing one or two words or phrases can mean the difference between shutting down or supporting a student's willingness to take risks and persevere while problem solving.
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  • 02/10/2020 8:50 PM | Stacey Daly
    The section on individual feedback in Cindy's class stood out to me as something I'd like to integrate into my teaching. I've seen many articles on the importance of giving students specific feedback on their work to help them grow in their learning. I never considered it before in terms of using it to encourage risk taking. "Cindy continually adjusts her feedback based on what she knows about these students individually, so students stay in the learning zone." As I was reading this section, I kept thinking about how some classroom teachers look at students work as either all right or all wrong. I work with some amazing interventionists who can take the same piece of student work and interpret what a student knows and where they may need to show growth in understanding. As a coach, I'd like to take the ideas from this section about how Cindy pushes students to take risks in their mathematical thinking and incorporate it with the analyzing of student work that I've seen my interventionists do to help classroom teachers encourage students to take risks and grow as mathematicians.
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  • 02/25/2020 6:00 PM | Becky
    Can I say all of them? I do aspire to use as much of the language I saw as I possibly can. I was stopped short though when I saw the written comments that were being used. I mean I am grading a paper so why not give some sort of comment other than this is correct and this is incorrect. I really want to start using encouraging comments more when I grade. I do a lot of individualized teaching more like tutoring at times than regular classroom teaching. I am inspired to tailor my words to each student and I think acknowledging that they went out on a limb can have some serious value in my setting.
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  • 02/28/2020 2:19 PM | Jen Rianhard
    When I read chapter 3, I enjoyed reading the part about Heidi Fessenden's second grade classroom. It was interesting to read when she put up make equations to 10. Students wrote out all of the problems they were comfortable with first and then wrote the turn around facts. I liked that she was asking kids to step out of their comfort zone to try problems they might get wrong or not understand completely. I liked looking over Tracy's make 10 facts on page 39. She uses a lot of different math skills and has the paper organized. Lastly, I liked reading the teacher's comments on the papers the students turned in asking them to challenge themselves.
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