Last year I attended a workshop presented by my state’s top math official at the education department. She urged teachers to immediately begin using the 8 Mathematical Practices from the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), rather than wait until their official implementation in 2014. In an effort to follow her advice, I began reading the descriptions of the practices so as to better understand their meaning. Today’s post is part 2 in a short series on taking that first step towards connecting the practices to our math instruction.
Mathematical Practices #5-8
The remaining four practices are, in short form:
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.
Connecting Practices to Standards
Take your existing math program or lessons and begin analyzing them for opportunities to apply these practices. I’ve included a PDF from Laura Candler’s excellent website, Teaching Resources. You can use her document to plan your instruction to ensure alignment with these mathematical practices. She also includes links to documents created by the North Carolina Department of Education that “unpack” the standards. Look for the page that describes what the mathematical practices look like at various grade levels.
Last Tuesday I shared a short YouTube video by New York teacher, Mr. Almeida, where he discussed the first four practices with examples. Here’s the second half of that discussion. Sometimes seeing examples and learning from other teachers really helps to bring clarity to a confusing subject, especially if you’re like me and struggled with math as a student!
Don’t forget to consider ways to communicate the practices to your students. They need to know the practices before they can use them in their problem solving, so decide how you want to display that information. Check out part 1 of this series for posters you can use in your classroom, or create your own.
The CCSS states: “The Standards for Mathematical Practice are a balanced combination of procedure and understanding. Expectations that begin with the word “understand” are often especially good opportunities to connect the practices to the content.” This would make a wonderful professional development opportunity, if your school district allows for that approach. Or consider discussing the practices with your colleagues during a PLC meeting. If we as teachers don’t understand what is expected, we certainly won’t be able to teach our students how to incorporate these habits into their own problem solving. Fortunately, there are many online resources available for teachers, since the CCSS are a nation-wide initiative. Here’s a short list to get you started.
- Carroll County Public Schools – Mathematical Practices
- Common Core Quick Tips
- Mathematical Practices Videos