Discussion in 'General Education' started by otterpop, Jun 24, 2017.
Jul 1, 2017
She teaches high school (if I'm remembering correctly), but her philosophies span all age groups.
When I was a student, I was a mathematical mess-up! Looking back on teaching techniques during this time period in the 60's of "New Math", and recalling barbershop discussions about how ridiculous arithmetic teaching had become, if my childhood recollections are accurate, the major problem stemmed from the students just sitting and watching the teacher do a visual concept demonstration, then watching an incomprehensible algorithm, and completing a long list of algorithms with possibly a token matter-of-fact story thrown in for good measure. I recall sitting and doing homework with my dad explaining the algorithm, and me stopping him saying we weren't allowed to do it that way! I recall my mom finally came to the rescue with "borrowing"; she had me play with an abacus-like calculator which required me to "regroup" in order to subtract. Since then, I had no more trouble with "renaming".
Upon becoming a teacher, I encountered the same old, same old, but although workshops were recommending students use base-10 blocks, few if any teachers even had them in their classroom. I'll never forget the lesson on division with a group of 5th graders. We were still learning to use the standard long division algorithm. The students insisted with phrases like, "No, I think you put the number over here. No over there." And me thinking, "Over where? What kind of math are you talking about?" They not only didn't have a clue about how to use the algorithm but why they were even using an algorithm in the first place!
Further into my teaching career, I learned that the ancient history of algorithms seems to have been forgotten. They are no longer viewed as an easy paper and pencil method for obtaining a solution, but are revered as the arithmetic themselves. A problem is solved "incorrectly" if the student crosses some numbers out with an x rather than a /, or if a student doesn't put a smaller crib number next to the larger number, or if a student doesn't or does put a zero as a place holder underneath the line, and that equals no longer means equality, it means there's an answer here, somewhere, and of course an answer in math is just a number that gets it scored correctly. After all, we must prepare students for their future career of sitting at a desk with a book of arithmetic problems to solve.
I agree with all the above posts. Jo Boaler is a genius and her books are a much needed change of procedures. Mathematics and STEAM education are too important to fool around with anymore. It's time to teach REAL math and not just diddly-doing.
I signed up for the the Mathematical Mindsets course on Thursday and finished the book last night! I'm going to review the How to Learn Math for Teachers course this morning (it's been four years since I took it...) and then get a jumpstart on the new course and start looking into the Week of Inspirational Math to start off the new school year. For the most part, I think Jo Boaler's philosophy fits in really well with my school's philosophy - and mine! We teach with an inquiry-based model already, so I think it will be fairly easy to integrate most of her ideas.
The one part that I don't think I can get away with is stopping the weekly timed fact challenges that we are required to do. My school believes in having a balance, I guess, so we have a very structured timed fact challenge program that spans grades K-6. I will do my best to try to minimize the time spent on it and the impact it has in the classroom, but I don't think I can get away with not doing it anymore. The worst part is that parents hone in on these fact challenges so much because it's the one part of math that they really understand - it's the way they were taught! They place so much more importance on them than I do, and that can be quite frustrating... I'm also going to have to rethink homework. My team and I had already decided to stop the drill and kill test-prep worksheets this year, but we settled on just having students log nightly practice of their math facts for the weekly timed tests. Now, I don't even want to do that anymore. I wonder if I can convince them to do some of Jo's reflection ideas instead... If they don't agree, I might just try to get away with doing my own thing, in the hopes that I can show them how much of a greater impact the reflection has than just studying flashcards every night.
I've been debating taking the second course. I just finished the first one in May. I'd love to hear what you think about it. Jo Boaler has helped me not only learn to teach math, but also how to talk to kids and parents about it - the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Jul 2, 2017
I'm also seriously considering a "no grades" classroom. Have any of you done this? I hate traditional grading practices, but haven't had the courage to go completely grade-less yet. This is the book I'm buying this week from Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Hacking-Assessment-Gradeless-Traditional-Learning/dp/0986104914. Any thoughts?
I like the idea, but could never do it; I'm legally obligated to provide summative grades in each subject each reporting period. I have, however, changed my assessment practice considerably. The bulk of what the students do is formative assessment; they receive lots of feedback and it defines our next steps, but it doesn't "count" in their final grade. We are expected to triangulate our assessment--focusing equally on products (tests, assignments, etc), conversations (e.g. conferencing) and observations.
I, too, have to provide summative grades, and have used my own standards-based grading in my own classroom for many years. It provides better feedback since I use a rubric for each standard. I'm hoping the book I mentioned above will guide me to some improvements on my system.
While we aren't required, I still actually do them. We do it once a month, but I outrageously emphasize growth and strategies, as opposed to simple rote memorization and speed. Part of their homework is to practice math facts if not at mastery, but they can choose any of a bazillion methods we come up with together at the beginning of the year. Some find themselves build to mastery, and those that aren't getting there, I work with to find other strategies to help them cope: one girl this year scored at standard on state testing (as opposed to last year) I think because of this - she knew that writing down the multiples (2x7, 3x7, 4x7..., 9x7) was one way in which she could be sure she would remember the right basic fact. She had grown a bunch, but tended to still mix those up.
Maybe see if you can just do it monthly: I personally believe it finds a good balance between the two mindsets, and can be perfectly integrated with Jo Boaler's mindset teachings. Heck, they're often excited to take it each month because of the chance at mastery or at growth. And we spend a good 5-10 minutes celebrating every student's growth the following day once I've graded them, with both them individually and as a class graphing our growth.
Jul 3, 2017
I'm definitely putting that on my must read list. Mel Levine suggests that the traditional slap-down-a-grade on a paper method of evaluation without any remediation could be the main cause of drug abuse. Another psychologist once told me that he feels it leads to suicide in some young people; (in that conversation he was especially referring to advanced and quickly progressing curricula) . Typically, once an overall percentage grade is received, the student does not have any further purpose to continue learning the objective and is pushed into the next objective, which of course is built upon the previous objective that s/he didn't get yet. Renate Caine writes how students [and parents] tend to work for a grade rather than to actually learn, so even those who do get the A often forget what was learned. For today's students, school is often a crockpot lesson, "set it and forget it". Back to Levine, drug peddlers look for students who are discouraged with school. I highly recommend his book, A Mind at a Time. NY: Simon and Schuster, 2002, not just for this reason, but for his many insights into education. His sequal, The Myth of Laziness, is equally worth reading.
This is good information. Thanks! I doubt that I'll get away with doing them monthly... They're pretty strict about making them weekly. However, I can probably take some leeway with how I prepare students for the fact challenges. Right now, we send flashcards home with students whenever they move on to a new level. My school also pays for an online game that student are supposed to use three times per week, but I'm honestly not sure if it's more than just fact memorization or if it actually teaches fluency with concepts. I'll have to research that a bit more. If I find that it doesn't align to my philosophy, then I may cut down on how often we use the online game and move to using other activities to prepare students for their fact challenges. I like your idea of having the students graphing their growth. Right now, my students keep a log of their scores, but I think that a visual graph might have a better impact. I'm going to consider that for this coming year.
Question: I just looked briefly at the Weeks of Inspirational Math online. Did you do both weeks last year, or did you only use the newest one? Initially, I thought that they were intended to do one after the other, meaning two weeks. However, after I read the introduction, I discovered that the second week could stand alone as it's own one week program, with the first week being an option to extend it to a second week. Now, with that new info, I'm leaning towards only doing the second week, but I figured I'd see what you did, since you've actually implemented it in your classroom. Any other advice you have would be great, too!
They put out #2 last year, and will be putting #3 out this summer. They're really just meant for a one-week start to the year. My suggestion would be to wait until the 3rd one comes out this summer, take a look through the materials/activities/videos, and then think about whether you want to do that one. Alternatively, you could pick/choose days from the various week (since you'll have 15)...though then the message might not come through as smoothly. Last year, during the first four days, I did the first four days, and then on the fifth day (a Monday), I shifted it into the morning so I could start the curriculum in the usual math block where the WiM had been (basically doubling up on math that day).
With snow days and a later end to the year, there was more time this spring than usual before school got out (relative to my first two years), so I decided to dabble in some more of the activities, trying to nicely bring the year full-circle with growth mindset (knowing that being a strong problem solver, and building perseverance, would outweigh the benefits of random review I'd do otherwise).
This year, since I'm working with a cohort of others in the district with changing our approach to math, it's a bit up in the air: I might do Week 3, but it could be a mix... One thing we did talk about though was how there were some activities that would be perfectly placed right before certain parts of the curriculum (make it a throughout-the-year usage outside of the initial week). For example, there was one about patterns with numbers represented by circles (from Week 1) that had students - across ability levels - discovering patterns relating to factors, multiples, prime/composite numbers, etc..., without any of that vocab behind it. It could build plenty of visual knowledge and something to refer back to, for the unit on factors/multiples/prime/etc...
The other element I'm trying to build in better this year is around discourse. I haphazardly tried to fit it in with the WiM last year, but it sort of fizzled out, and wasn't as concrete as I wanted. That's a goal this summer: how can I introduce that in connection with WiM / growth mindsets / IR-launch, but then ensure I keep it going with regular practice throughout the year.
(Sorry for the long post -- tons of thinking around this!)
This is great. Thanks! I thought I had heard about a third week coming out, but I couldn't remember when it was due to be released. I like your idea of adding in activities throughout the year, as well. I'll have to consider doing that, too. That's great that your whole team is on board. I'd like to get my team there, too, but I'm not sure that it's going to happen this year.
To be fair, it's a district cohort of people who chose to be there - I don't really have my grade level team or anyone beyond the cohort, yet.
And I believe they said mid-July in an e-mail a couple months ago. So plenty of time to preview it!
Jul 4, 2017
So, in the past five days, I finished up the Mathematical Mindsets book (that I had started weeks ago but took my time getting through due to a busy schedule), reviewed the How to Learn Math for Teachers/Parents course, and completed the Mathematical Mindsets course. I feel so energized and ready to make some changes in my math class! I'm lucky to already be in a school that values inquiry-based learning, even in math, so I'm hopeful that the integration of some of Jo's ideas and research won't be too difficult.
In regards to the new course... If you've taken the other course and read her book, I don't think that the new course is absolutely necessary. She shares some of the same research that was in the first course, and she shares a lot of the same information and ideas that are in the book. There is some new information in the new course that you can't find in the previous course or the book, but a lot of it falls right in line with what she has said in the past, and you can even find a lot of other information for free on the YouCubed website... However, I have to say that hearing things repeatedly, seeing videos of her ideas in action, and completing her assignments has really helped me to fully grasp the concepts. I don't think that just reading the book alone would have been enough for me to be motivated to really make some changes to my teaching. Reading the book and taking the course together was - hopefully - a more effective combination than only doing one or the other. I guess we'll find out after I get well into the new school year and reflect on the changes I hope to make. If you can afford the $99 and the time (I finished in three days, but I spent several hours per day working on it), I'd highly recommend taking the course.
Thanks for the information! I definitely agree that watching and hearing her in the first course deepened my understanding of information in the book. I'm totally swamped at the moment - I need to learn how to say no - but I'm hoping I can get the class in before school starts.
Jul 7, 2017
I'm reading some Seth Godin (Purple Cow, the Icaraus Deception) and am really enjoying them!!
Jul 9, 2017
I am finishing up the How to Learn Math class for teachers/parents. The first few sessions repeated some things from the book Mathematical Mindsets, but there was new info, as well. It was good to hear things repeated and reinforced, as bella84 said above.
As I've gone through sessions 4, 5, and 6, I have learned some new and amazing info. Most is not something I wasn't aware of, but is shown in different ways. I feel the $99 was money well-spent.
Jul 11, 2017
I'm getting For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood... and the Rest of Y'all Too by Christopher Emdin pretty soon.
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