Since the adoption of the Common Core Standards, many states have been working to foster math instruction that incorporates the Standards for Mathematical Practice. These standards are viewed as the key practices that need to be in place in every math classroom, every day:
1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
4. Model with mathematics.
5. Use appropriate tools strategically.
6. Attend to precision.
7. Look for and make use of structure.
8. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.
The challenge for school leaders and teachers is understanding what these practices look and sound like in the classroom. What do we have to do in order to foster the Standards for Mathematical Practice? The following suggestions are gleaned from several sources (see links below) and should encourage a conversation around what effective math instruction looks like:
-Students should be talking with and interacting with each other every day.
-Math should be about real life problems, not isolated skills.
-Students need support and practice in learning how to communicate mathematical ideas.
-Manipulatives and technology should be used when they enhance understanding.
-Assessments should reflect the way math is being taught.
-Strategies to promote the practices should include giving students the answer to questions and asking them to decide what the question is; having students make up problems that meet some pre-determined criteria; and posing “What if?” questions about what might happen if a change is made to the quantity or any other aspect of a given problem.
-Students will need consistent strategies for reading problems and determining what the question is asking.
Practice number one might be our biggest challenge. How do we get students to persevere in math? Teachers can support perseverance through modeling and teacher talk. A combination of practice, scaffolding, and encouragement can build a foundation for the resilience our students will need to meet success in math.
Standards for Mathematical Practice
What Should I Look for in a Math Classroom?
Implementing the Common Core Mathematical Practices