What About Math?

Much of our focus this year and every year is on literacy, but we know our mathematics instructional programs could also be refreshed. What can we do to learn more about modern mathematics pedagogy?

Dig into the following:

  1. http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Learning-in-Ohio/Mathematics/Resources-for-Mathematics/Curriculum-and-Instruction-Resources-for-Mathemati

The Ohio Department of Education provides this myriad of resources on Depth of Knowledge (DOK). The readings help teachers and administrators discern between low-level tasks (memorizing procedures, drills, memorizing facts, etc.) and high-level tasks (analysis, critique, discourse, etc.). Actual example activities are given for high and low cognitive demand. Consider adding DOK to your classroom walkthroughs. Review the walkthrough data over time to quantitatively see the increased rigor.

  1. https://www.nctm.org/PtA/ Principles to Action by National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM)

This book provides a great summary of modern mathematics pedagogy. It delves deeply into the philosophical belief that all children can learn and do mathematics successfully if given appropriate opportunities. Learn why/how learners must engage in productive struggle and the perils of rescuing learners too quickly. Yes, sometimes we “help” students far too quickly. And sometimes we remove the mathematical thinking by providing too much guidance or support. Common beliefs (“productive” and “unproductive”) about how mathematics should be taught are explained. Use the book to create a fun quiz on the productive and unproductive beliefs about mathematics instruction in a department or staff meeting. Use Kahoot or another virtual quizzing platform to make it virtual. Some might describe this book as deep or philosophical. For that reason, it is highly recommended for educational leaders including building principals and mathematics department chairpersons.

  1. https://www.amazon.com/Visible-Learning-Mathematics-Grades-K-12/dp/150636294X

John Hattie’s Visible Learning for Mathematics gives the statistical effect size of varied instructional practices using reader friendly language and lots of examples. Learn which instructional strategies have the greatest (proven) impact on student outcomes. Are computations (exercises that only require calculations) the same as mathematics problems?  No, they are not the same! Learn how they differ and why it is important for teachers to know what true problem solving is. Do you want ideas for increasing the cognitive demand with examples? They are in this book. The book also has QR links to exemplar videos with actual child learners. It doesn’t get any better than that!

Use these resources to spark conversations with educators about how mathematics instruction has evolved over time. We learn more and more each year (through educational research) about how mathematics is learned. Our mathematics classrooms should be different than they were decades ago. If you are reading this blog, the mathematics instruction you see today should be vastly different than what you experienced as a child. Unlike when we were children, multiple solution pathways or varied ways of solving each problem should be being celebrated and not scorned. Where do we start learning about modern mathematics pedagogy?

  • Use these resources to discuss how fluency is quite different than speed, the need for discussion in mathematics classroom, and the overall benefits of active learning.
  • Engage your staff with a fun DOK sorting Google Jamboard in a virtual meeting. Staff can be divided into four teams/colors, and each team sorts their sticky notes into the four DOK levels on the Google Jamboard you create. Use the DOK guide to help write your sticky note examples ex. justify your answer, find an alternate strategy, critique a friend’s response, calculate a solution, look up a definition, draw a model of your problem, etc.. Make sure the examples are appropriate for the grade bands in your school.


See the Google Jamboard example image below.

Have fun! If your mathematics instruction is different than what you experienced as a child, you are WINNING!!!

Lori Cargile

Greetings everyone! All children can learn. It is our responsibility to figure out how. This mantra has guided me in my nearly three decades of serving high-needs students, schools, and school districts. My experiences include being a mathematics teacher, teacher leader and evaluator, school administrator, instructional coach, and school improvement consultant. I love to learn new things and enjoy biking, hiking, and traveling.