Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Building Mathematical Comprehension: Chapter 1

I'm linking up with Beth and Brenda for their summer book study of Building Mathematical Comprehension by Laney Sammons.

As a former literacy coach and reading specialist, this book made so much sense to me.  As someone who taught through the "reading wars" (phonics vs. whole language) I was one of the teachers who eagerly bought into teaching reading strategies as advocated in Mosaic of Thought and later in Strategies that Work and Reading with Meaning.  I've taught the reading strategies for so long it's just second nature to ask questions like "Does anyone have a connection?" or "What are you visualizing-picturing in your head?"  Why not ask them in math class as well?

On page 30 Laney writes "...students who are confident of their mathematical abilities are much more willing to tackle problems, communicate mathematically with others and think critically about math-related ideas."  I think this is one of the biggest hurdles we face in math instruction, students who are not confident about their math abilities. I really believe much of this is learned.  I can't tell you how many times I've heard a parent say "Well, I was never very good in math,either."  I saw this happen with my own children.  My son did struggle with math and became very vocal about it.  My second child also had some trouble, but more from lack of effort!  By the time my youngest daughter was in 4th grade and math got a little bit more difficult, she was convinced she couldn't do math either even though she hadn't had any problems up to that point, just because she had heard so much negativity from her brother and sister!  So I have made it a point in my teaching the last couple of years to make math fun and make every student feel like a "mathematician."

I love the adaptation of Keene and Zimmerman's planning template for strategy instruction!  I will be copying these pages (pages 39-41) to use when my team is planning our math lessons.  I really want to introduce my team to the idea of Math Huddles discussions where students work together on a problem and apply the strategy or share the strategies they used while solving in small groups or independently.  I first heard this term in Laney's book Math Stretches, and have tried to incorporate planned math discussions into our math block.  I know I need to more, but I was really pleased with the math talks I had with my class this past year, particularly when we were doing our Exemplars problems!  (By the way, I love Math Stretches!  Here's a link to the K-2 version and a link to a post I wrote last summer.  Laney also discuss Math Stretches in Guided Math, chapter 3.)

I am loving this book so far!  I just finished Chapter 2 so I am working on my post for that.  I'm one of the hosts for the next chapter so please come back and link up June 15-20.

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  1. Your recommendation of Math Stretches intrigued me. I went back and read your post from last summer. I loved how you made the signs and made it part of a routine. It is definitely a book I will look into further.

    1. My class loved Math Stretches! I have to confess I was much more consistent with them at the beginning of the year. I hope to have a PowerPoint or Smartboard file of stretches created by the end of the summer.

  2. Looks like a good study. I like your reading questions and your idea to transfer those to math. Makes sense to me!
    Have a great day - Sara

  3. Thanks for linking up.
    I started using Math Huddles quite a lot in my math class this year and I love it. I am also intrigued about how often Sammons links back to Mosaic of Thought...I've never read it. Perhaps it's my next book study! LOL
    Thinking of Teaching