Monday, September 9, 2013

Mathy Monday- MP Edition

Holy moly!  Has it really been over a month since I've blogged on here?  Apparently, it has, but in my defense...back-to-school is all consuming!  I consider it pure luck that I could even remember my password for this ol' thing.  But now that I'm here, let's make this a Mathy Monday and chat about making the Standards for Mathematical Practice accessible to kids. 

New Mexico is one of 45 states that have adopted the Common Core State Standards, and as a third grade teacher here in the Land of Enchantment, we are in our second year of adoption.  It's actually a really nice place to be- we've had a year to play around and try things out, and now, we have a chance to keep what worked and refine what didn't.  Our approach to introducing the Standards for Mathematical Practice is something that worked, and this is how we do it.

We begin each week by introducing the MP using the language directly from the Common Core.  Often times (much more often than not), this language can be extremely challenging for third graders, but this provides the perfect opportunity to implore reading strategies for encountering unknown words while getting kids to "think about their thinking" in mathematics. 

We start with an anchor chart with only the MP written (see picture below, blue ink).  We dissect the language of the MP using prior knowledge, word association, context clues, and even dictionaries.  As a class, we talk it out and break it down so that we come to a common understanding so that all students know what is expected of them. 

From there, it's time to do the math.  Math tasks are selected intentionally so that students have explicit opportunities to engage in the math practice standard.  For example, for MP 1- Making sense of problems and preserve in solving them, students were given a multi-step math riddle that could be solved in many different ways, but would require perseverance to determine the correct answer. 

As students work, I ask guiding questions that will help facilitate our summary at the end of the lesson.  I craft my questions based on what students understand about the math practice (ex: What strategies are you using to make sense of this problem?  Talk to me about how you are persevering through this tough work...").  By doing this, students have already began to think about how they use the math practice in their own work.       

After students have had a chance to do the math, we come back together to summarize and debrief the math practice standard.  I try and use the same guiding questions I used during the exploration so the language is consistent.  I record student responses in another color (green) on our anchor chart.  Your landing point should be along the same lines as the expanded MP standards in kid-friendly language.  Throughout the week, we constantly refer back to the MP standard, whether I am pointing out ways in which students are using it, students are identifying how other students are using it, or they are reflecting on their own use of the MP standard.  Later, we add sentence stems to promote the use of the direct language when speaking and writing about our math thinking.

While this took time, it was well worth it.  I was amazed to hear 3rd graders talking about "attending to precision" and "choosing appropriate tools strategically".  More importantly, these are the habits of mind we hope to instill in our students, so being able to refer back to them while I am teaching helps build self-efficacy skills that are invaluable.     

So, that's how I do it.  In my second year, I am making small tweaks here and there, but I am seeing similar successes.

How are you tackling the Standards for Mathematical Practice in your classroom?!  I'd love to hear and learn from you!