Working differently

This summer I’ve been doing a lot of task-based curriculum development on a series of fairly short activities. We are trying to develop resources for use with an instructional activity created by Grace Kelemanik and Amy Lucenta called Contemplate then Calculate. A key part of this instructional activity is surfacing the kinds of things people notice that allow them to make mathematical connections and solve problems quickly and efficiently.

It turns out that Twitter is a really good medium for testing these activities because most people don’t have access to pencil and paper (a key component of Contemplate then Calculate) and there are a lot of people from a wide variety of backgrounds willing to try out the tasks.

What I do is first share the task on Twitter, kind of like so:

Then, I wait. Usually, I get a few responses right away and a few more responses over time.

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 9.57.42 PM

Notice how I follow-up to those responses with questions to find out what people were thinking. If my objective with the task is to engineer opportunities for students to think about mathematics, it’s helpful to know in advance how they might think about any task I give them. A key benefit to Twitter is that a variety of different ways of thinking about the task emerge quickly and in many cases have led to me modifying the original tasks.

Some tasks get more responses than others. I try my best to respond to everyone who takes the time to try the question, but sometimes I miss people.

I also work to make sure that share back the work of the community back to the community.

All of the tasks I’ve been working on, and so far we are up to about 30 of them with many dozens more in the pipe-line, are going to be shared, with a Creative Commons license, back to the math education community. Stay tuned for the URL.

 
 
 


Four blog posts about using student ideas

I wrote four blog posts for NCTM’s Mathematics in the Middle School blog on using student work to understand and plan around student ideas. Each post is about using student work to make inferences about how they understand mathematical ideas and then using those inferences to help you plan. Note that these posts are actually […]


Learning at Conferences

This year when I attended the NCSM and NCTM annual conferences, I had a much different experience than in previous years. I thought it would be worth sharing some ideas I have about how to make it more likely that you learn from a conference experience. If you want to walk away from the conference […]


From Mistake-Makers to Sense-Makers

Here is a video of a short talk I gave on my journey from primarily viewing students as mistake makers to viewing them as sense-makers.      


Teaching Demonstration

This video is a brief demonstration, about 15 minutes, of some teaching I did at the 2015 New Jersey Association of Mathematics Teacher Educator meeting.   Unfortunately, the video tracking is not great so much of the annotation I was doing of the participant ideas is not easy to see as I am doing it. […]


NJAMTE Keynote

This is a recording of a keynote I gave at the New Jersey Association of Mathematics Teacher Educator (NJAMTE) annual meeting.   The audio isn’t terrific unfortunately but it is manageable. The slides, script, references, and resources are available here.  


Fractions are hard

Fractions are hard. Of course, I knew this before my lesson on Saturday, but the responses of my students to a task really drilled that point home for me. Here is the activity I gave my students to do: Here’s what I anticipated they might do: Here’s a sample of what they actually did: Student […]


Looking at student data

Almost every school district across the United States is thinking about how they use data to inform instruction. Not all of them are doing so in ways that I think are likely to lead to useful change. Below is an example of the kind of data that has no useful impact on instruction ever. The […]


Choral Counting

Last Saturday, I tried a new instructional activity called Choral Counting. This activity was recommended to me by Magdalene Lampert and comes out of the work she and others have done to support high-quality ambitious teaching. I’m experimenting with these instructional routines in part because I hope to support teachers in the project I support […]


Treating Teachers Like Sense-Makers

“Your workshop was so interesting. I learned so much!” ~ An actual comment from a participant in one of my workshops yesterday. Too often we ask teachers to listen for an hour or even two to someone talk nearly non-stop about what they know with perhaps a question thrown in once in a while. Since […]