# Lessons That Count

## February 2021 - EUPISD Monthly Math Instruction Newsletter

*Doing mathematics should always mean finding patterns and crafting beautiful and meaningful explanations.*

Paul Lockhart

## Motivation Series - Part 2: Meaninfulness

This is the second installment of the five part series based on Ilana Seidel Horn's book, "Motivated". This month the focus is on the *meaningfulness* of learning.

In her book, Horn says that typical math lessons align more to the structure of schooling than they align to developing meaningful understanding. Responding to the demands of curriculum coverage and crowded classrooms, most classrooms are structured for high-volume work production instead of meaningful learning.

**Meaningfulness:** When students connect their own curiosity and experience to ideas, thereby developing an interest in and appreciation for mathematical content.

Meaningfulness comes about when students develop an appreciation for mathematical ideas. Rich learning happens when students draw on prior knowledge and experiences to make sense of ideas and explore problems, invoke their own strategies, get to ask their own "what if" questions. In short, meaningful learning happens when students' activity connects to their own curiosity.

Below are three strategies to bring about more meaningful learning for students in mathematics.

## Making Space for Student Ideas When having a math discussion, it is important to deemphasize right or wrong answers and value students' ideas and support sense making. At any grade level, present The sum of 10+6 is the same as 9+5 Denominators must be larger than numerators Adding a negative integer and positive integer will always be a negative answer A student has to determine if he agrees or disagrees, then describe, or prove, this thinking about why he agrees or disagrees. Agree and Disagree statements provides an opportunity for students to practice thinking about their own understanding. | ## Setting Up Inviting ProblemsTo make math problems meaningful, the goal is to give student something that, to them, is worth talking about. The site, YouCubed, provides an archive of LFHS tasks that can be searched by grade and topic. | ## Finding Problems Together Last month's newsletter discussed how Think-Notice-Wonder activities allow students the opportunity to see problems in big-picture ways and discover multiple strategies for tackling a problem. Think-Notice-Wonder can also be used as an activity to encourage students to use math to analyze their surroundings. Like before, present a picture or situation and have the students write three statements: I think...., I notice...., and I wonder... As a class, review the statements and select one or two that would lead to the use of mathematics.
Possible statements from students: How many marbles in the jar? What is the the ratio of red marbles to the rest of the marbles?
Possible statements from students: How many cars go by an hour? How would changing the speed limit change the rate? |

## Making Space for Student Ideas

At any grade level, present **"Agree or Disagree Statements"** at the beginning of a lesson to elicit students' ideas about a mathematic topic. Some examples are:

The sum of 10+6 is the same as 9+5

Denominators must be larger than numerators

Adding a negative integer and positive integer will always be a negative answer

A student has to determine if he agrees or disagrees, then describe, or prove, this thinking about why he agrees or disagrees. Agree and Disagree statements provides an opportunity for students to practice thinking about their own understanding.

## Setting Up Inviting Problems

To make math problems meaningful, the goal is to give student something that, to them, is worth talking about. **Low Floor High Ceiling Tasks (LFHC)** are those that all students can access but that can be extended to high levels. These tasks are important because all classes are heterogeneous. LFHC tasks allow students to work at different paces and take work to different depths at different times. The low floor high ceiling tasks preferred are those that are also visual and lead to rich mathematical discussion.

The site, YouCubed, provides an archive of LFHS tasks that can be searched by grade and topic.

## Finding Problems Together

**Think-Notice-Wonder**activities allow students the opportunity to see problems in big-picture ways and discover multiple strategies for tackling a problem. Think-Notice-Wonder can also be used as an activity to encourage students to use math to analyze their surroundings. Like before, present a picture or situation and have the students write three statements: I think...., I notice...., and I wonder... As a class, review the statements and select one or two that would lead to the use of mathematics.

**Elementary:** A jar of colored marbles.

Possible statements from students: How many marbles in the jar? What is the the ratio of red marbles to the rest of the marbles?

**Middle / High School: **Watch cars drive by the school.

Possible statements from students: How many cars go by an hour? How would changing the speed limit change the rate?

## COVID Response Resources for Math Instruction

Below is a list of resources to assist teachers with planning around the impact the COVID pandemic has had on our students:

**K-8**

- Prioritizing K-8 Mathematics Standards
- Important Prerequisite Standards Math Standards with Resources

**High School**

**Math Recovery / AVMR Resources**

## Groundhog Day's Think-Notice-Wonder

It's probably not a surprise that Phil’s prediction skills are pretty poor (according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, he is only correct 40% of the time).

To help you celebrate Groundhog Day in your classroom and incorporate some groundhog-themed math discussions into your upcoming lesson plans, here si a super fun Groundhog Day Results Think-Notice-Wonder (TNW) writing activity for Grades 1-8 (featuring the results for every Groundhog Day since 2000).

Engaging in think-notice-wonder writing activities at the start of a math class is a great way to ignite student thinking, spark creativity, and build anticipation.

Learn more at www.mashupmath.com/blog/tnw