Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A Focus on Mathematics

To become fluent mathematicians, students need to build understanding and connections in math skills, concepts, and problem solving. Chets' teachers are committed to teaching in a Math Workshop format which fosters an environment safe for students to explore multiple strategies.

Math instruction does not consist of a teacher showing students a set of procedures to solve a problem. And, does not require students to regurgitate an answer. We foster the process. We foster student's next steps. We foster understanding. This is a much different approach in contrast to traditional math education in this country, and one we embrace and celebrate for the achievement of our students.

However, we know that because teachers were not taught the way we are now teaching, professional development must take center stage. Therefore, our principal makes sure to support a math coaching position in her budget. Presently, two coaches share that one position. They share a classroom, and each have half a day of release time to coach in other classrooms. Weekly they run teacher meetings in grades 3-5 where teachers discuss curriculum and instruction, analyze diagnostic assessments, work on common assessments, analyze student work, discuss professional literature, and explore multiple strategies. They also have an entire day each quarter to spend with a grade level where they observe demonstration lessons and debrief the lessons.

In grades K-2, two math teachers who carry full day classroom loads, act as math lead teachers. They run their grade level teacher meetings and WOW Days. On occasion, they are released from their classroom to coach in other classrooms.

In addition to coaching, we embrace digital professional development. We've utilized Math Video Clips of two of the coaches talking teachers through math strategies in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. I'm sure they will be delighted that I've linked you to their site :) We've used video streaming demonstration lessons, and one of our math leads, Melissa, has used her blog to begin sharing s wealth of information including linking sites to her posts that she finds useful for students to use from home. Two other sites I've found helpful include the National Library of Interactive Math and a Teacher Resource site. Also, we've used our CCE website to share math information.

You'll notice as a list on this blog, I also recommend math texts that every math teacher and coach should have in their bag of tricks. If you have further suggestions for professional development that we can embrace to move our work forward, please pen me a comment on this post. I'm looking forward to hearing from you!

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