Discourse in the Math Classroom
I was lucky enough to be able to attend a great math conference this last week. One of the speakers was Margaret S. Smith the author of 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions. I am also lucky in that my district is using Connected Mathematics (CMP) in the middle school. CMP follows the lesson structure of launch, explore and summary. Margaret’s five practices incorporate that lesson structure. The 5 practices are anticipating (working through the task so that you can anticipate what students might think and how they might work out the task), monitoring (walking around seeing what students are doing when they are exploring the task…seeing what strategies they are using….questioning students), selecting (deciding what students should share to the class their strategies and thinking), sequencing (deciding who should share in what order) and connecting (helping students see connects between strategies and to the mathematics in the task).
I have been using those 5 practices daily in my classroom. Monitoring is something that I am do during the explore of my lessons but I have wanted to have a way to keep track of what strategies students are using. I could easily create something on paper but I have not known where to start. After hearing Margaret and seeing her example I now know where I can start. In the world we live in today I don’t want to use paper and pencil. I want to have an app that I can customize to strategies that I might see in the lesson and to my student’s names in class. So, far I have not been able to find such an app so I am going to work on creating a Google form that I can use on my ipad.
One of the main practices that I continually want to work on is the connecting practice. In CMP we call that the summary. I facilitate a summary at the end of each lesson but sometimes I feel as if it’s very rushed because of the amount of time I have for class. I can always work on how I connect student’s strategies and the mathematics of the lesson/tasks.
Discourse in the math classroom is not something that you have always seen in the classroom but is a huge part of the Common Core and incorporating the Mathematical Practices that it is something that you should now be seeing in all math classrooms. I would highly recommend Margaret S. Smith’s book to all math teachers.