Contemplating Math

I love that our Board has a Math Delivery Plan. There are numerous math strands and expectations, and with the use of this plan, all teachers can ensure that they are teaching what needs to be taught each term. While this plan highlights what needs to be taught, it does not highlight how this content needs to be taught. And it’s the “how” piece that I’m thinking about now.

A couple of days ago, I had a wonderful discussion with our Math Facilitator, AJ Ingrassia, and one point that came up was about how we teach math to students. Yes, there’s a bigger push right now for teaching math through problem solving, but do we teach students how to problem solve? Imagine if every teacher from Kindergarten to Grade 8 focused on the problem solving model, and on teaching students specific strategies they can use to solve math problems. If students had access to these strategies on a bookmark that they could carry between home and school — or if this bookmark was even placed on the school website where students could access this bookmark at home — imagine the change that could happen in math. Now teachers, parents, and students would all be on the same page. They would all be speaking the same math language.

I love that our school and Board continue to focus on meeting the needs of all students. This is part of the “academic optimism” that John Malloy, our Director of Education, references in the Annual Operating Plan. Yes, without explicitly teaching and referencing this problem solving model and list of strategies, MOST students are still following the steps, but what about the other students? Would all students meet with success if we changed our math teaching practices? 

I’m not sure, but I think that this is something worth trying. It would mean a school-wide focus, and ideally a Board-wide focus, on problem solving strategies, but the benefits could be huge. What do you think? Have others tried this before? What did you notice? I would love to hear your thoughts on this!


2 thoughts on “Contemplating Math

  1. Aviva, I agree that we really need to incorporate more exploration and problem solving into Math. I actually think over reliance on the Math Delivery Plan hasn’t encouraged this because teachers tend to follow it instead of the curriculum. If we really look at the process expectations, we can see it’s not about topics or procedures in Math. It should be about the thinking.

    • Thanks for your comment, Sue! The Math Delivery Plan aligns with the curriculum though — doesn’t it? I always use it as a guide for the major topics, and then the curriculum for the specific expectations to meet the general topics.

      I absolutely love the process expectations as well. After a Twitter chat on the weekend, I actually had students explore these expectations to create Math Success Criteria. It was awesome! I definitely have to do so at an earlier time next year. I think that these expectations can really make “teaching math through problem solving” so much more powerful.


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