Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Common Core: Math in the 21st century

The last several years for me have been filled with professional reading about literacy.  From getting my Masters in reading to becoming a literacy coach for four years, articles...professional studies...blogs...have been the main focus of my professional reading for the past eight years.  Haven't said this in a while, undergraduate I concentrated in mathematics.  Math? I know...does not match where I am now.  I never dreamed that I would be so passionate about literacy when I look back at the beginning of my journey as an educator.

This first year back in the classroom has been a whirlwind.  Professionally I have been challenged in so many areas to really dig deep and think about my beliefs and the evidence of it in my all curriculum areas.  Makes me realize how lucky I am to be surrounded by such dedicated colleagues who have supported me during this journey!

So last night...about 11:00 PM...I made the decision to dive into a professional reading about math.  It is called, Small Steps, Big Changes: Eight Essential Practices for Transforming Schools Through Mathematics published by Stenhouse.  I only made it to chapter 2 last night but it really got me thinking about math conversations at the school level.  In chapter 1, the authors focus on "Keeping the end in mind" (the first essential practice).  Four questions have been suggested to begin these conversations.  In order to agree on the destination...

1.  What does rigor mean from classroom to classroom? (Hear that word a LOT with the Common Core)

2.  What does problem solving mean? (Is it only teacher guided, finding a correct answer to word problem? Multi-step problems? Complex real world problems with more than one answer?)

3.  What is high quality student work in mathematics? (The authors suggest everyone to bring a sample from their classroom to discuss why they think it is high quality...I bet that could be eye-opening and powerful!)

And then for the biggie...What should our "end in mind" be?

I am only in chapter two, but what powerful questions to explore at any level...grade level, school level, or even district level.  With Common Core Standards becoming our new curriculum...this would be a great time to ask these questions!  As the authors state on page 5...

"Being the change" requires educators to step in this new direction, shift their thinking...and make a journey."

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