Thursday, August 11, 2016

Mathematical Mindsets: Chpt. 6

Well, hello, again! Here we are in Chapter 6 of Jo Boaler's book, Mathematical Mindsets. The focus of this week's chapter was mathematics and the path to equity.

Mathematics is a broad subject that goes beyond computation and procedural speed and involves understanding of ideas. ~Cathy Williams (101)

Key Takeaway: Mathematics needs to be a balance between computational/procedural skills, conceptual understanding, and problem solving.  It is really important that we take steps to move beyond procedural based math classrooms and transform math into a connected, inquiry-based subject (104). As Jo Boaler would say, "Viva la Revolution!"

Classroom Connections:
  •  "Mathematics is not more difficult than other subjects--I would challenge people who think so to produce a powerful poem or work of art. All subjects extend to difficult levels; the reason so many people think math is the most difficult is the inaccessible way it is often taught (Boaler, 96)." This is such a powerful statement that I will need to keep nearby as I continue this journey and support others in helping our students develop a mathematical mindset.
  • Creating hands-on experiences, offering project-based curriculum, providing real-life applications, and fostering collaborative work are ways to help strengthen engagement for students, especially girls (103). 
  • The issue of homework was discussed. Boaler's recommendation is that homework should be given only if the homework task is worthwhile and draws upon the opportunity for reflection or active investigations around the house (109). In her beliefs, homework should be eliminated, reduced, or changed. The idea of procedural practice with repetitive problems for homework needs to be re-evaluated in our quest to foster equity for all students. 
As a teacher, intentional decisions need to be made to ensure equitable opportunities are provided for all students to thrive in mathematics. Mathematics is a gateway to their future!
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  1. I agree about the intentional decisions! So many times as teachers, we blindly accept what our schools or districts have mandated, rather than take the time to think if it is good for our students and their learning. I'm so excited to change things up a bit (a lot!) this year :)

  2. Ditto to Kathie! My whole approach to homework, in mathematics and all subjects, is changing thanks to this book and The Book Whisperer! I can't wait to try all the new strategies we're learning, and really make purposeful decisions about homework!