The purpose of mathematics instruction is for students to develop the knowledge, skills, and understanding that they will need to solve the world’s problems of the future through access to STEM fields or the use of rational thought in whatever job or career students wish to pursue. We are all mathematicians who are capable of knowing, doing, and enjoying math. Too often, though, math classes have become a gatekeeper, where only some students are seen as capable, and the teacher is the sole authority, promoting absolute answers. Though procedural understanding and fluency are important, we strive to create a math community where students grapple with rigorous and meaningful problems and engage in productive discourse with their peers that allow them to construct deep conceptual understanding which naturally leads to the development of those necessary procedures. We know that problem-solving means making mistakes and persevering through them, asking questions, and taking time to find and study patterns. Engaging students in a mathematics community of belonging requires shifts in teaching and learning described below.
From division to computer science, we know that math is a process. At PPS, we celebrate mistakes and champion perseverance, as we understand both are essential for student growth. PPS believes that high-level math is most effectively taught alongside state-of-the-art integrated technology, and that challenging curriculum be met with curiosity, wonder, and persistence.
Agency and Empowerment: All students enjoy math, and see themselves as mathematicians. (from math as a gatekeeper, to math as an agent of agency and empowerment)
Constructing Knowledge: PPS students will learn through explaining their reasoning, building on each other’s ideas, and discussing multiple ways to solve a problem. (from teacher as holder of knowledge to students building knowledge together)
Productive Struggle: PPS students will engage and persevere at points of difficulty, challenge, or error. (from passive learning to productive struggle)
Grade-Level Access: PPS students will be successful in mathematics if they consistently have access to grade-level content that includes procedural fluency, conceptual understanding, and application of math concepts. (from some students having access to all students having access)
- Teachers will use equitable facilitation, including shared norms and engagement strategies, to create a math classroom community where all students are empowered in developing their own understanding of grade level mathematics and feel they belong.
- Teachers will pose questions to LAUNCH the activity, lesson or unit, then give students space to play with and EXPLORE the mathematics individually and with peers, and SYNTHESIZE student learning through whole class discourse.
- Teachers will demonstrate the belief that all students can and will learn by calling on a variety of students throughout the classroom (e.g. uses a consistent approach to include students, monitors who has been called on, intentionally includes English language learners and students with disabilities).
I used to show one way to solve problems but now I let the kids demonstrate all the different ways to get to a solution.
- Megan McDevitt
7th Grade Math Teacher
Moore Middle School
“ I used to focus more on the skill, now I focus more on the process.”
- Dempy Malyata
IELD Math Teacher
Moore Middle School