Friday, April 3, 2015

Successful Students and Reading, Thinking, Reasoning and Writing in Math Class

I can't believe it is already the 4th Quarter. I have been super busy and way bummed that I haven't had time to blog for a while.  A lot has been going on in my room and I am so excited about the progress my students have made this year in the first three quarters of this school year.

All of my "out of the box" ideas have been truly effective in helping my students with the rigorous concepts they are facing this year in 8th Grade Common Core Math.   I have made great progress with my Collaborative Teams idea, and in getting the students to read, think and write in Math.  There is no better feeling than to see your students embrace challenge and enjoy learning in a math classroom... :o)

This year I have put a lot of time and thought into everything that I do in my classroom. And one of the most important things is how I structure my class.  Our Math periods are only 50 minutes and I have such a short amount of time to get in a lot of curriculum and teaching.  So it was imperative that I structured my lessons to maximize the learning of all my students.  The key to this is my Collaborative Teams.  I have been tweaking my vision of effective "Collaborative Teams" for the last 4 years, and I finally made enough tweaks that they are extremely effective. This is a strategy that I could never do without. :o)

This year my Students are not afraid of "Reading" and "Thinking" in math.  All of the math problems I give my students require them to Read and Think. My students do not have a problem with Math Word Problems, in fact they actually like them.  Everything my students do in my class requires them to read and think.

 My Solve It! PROVE It! daily warm-up problems require my students to read and think.
My Team Tasks require my students to read and think.

My Recorder/Reporter Collaborative Team problems require my students to read and think.

My Worthwhile Wednesday Task require my students to read and think.

and ... My Concept Quizzes require my students to read and think.

My Students are not afraid to work in "Collaborative Teams".  One thing that makes this super effective is that my Collaborative Teams are randomly selected every week.  The students love the random selection, because every week they work with different people.  This has taught my students to be willing and able to work with anybody.  This has also helped my students to be open and to not be afraid of discussing the math.

Another reason that my Collaborative Teams are so effective is the consistency in my expectations and procedures from day one.  I am clear about my expectations.  My Collaborative Teams have structures and procedures that the students understand and use.  This year I have also incorporated the Math Practices into my teaching methodology and refer to them throughout the day. This has helped the students understand why I put an emphasis on attention to precision and justifying their reasoning.
Here are some examples of my students working together in Collaborative Teams; discussing, solving and justifying in Math.

There is still work to be done to get my students to have better math discussions, but I know that next year I can take my students to the next level in math discourse.  I have a foundation of what really works and next year I can take it to the next level from Day One.

My Students are not afraid of writing in Math.  My students write a lot in my math class.  They write in the Solve It! PROVE It!  They write on all of their Team Tasks. They write on of their Concept Quizzes to support their answers and justify their reasoning.  They write on the Worthwhile Wednesday TASKS. And they write a lot on their Benchmark Performance Tasks.  :o)

My students write to justify their reasoning...

My students write to reflect on their learning....

They also write digitally to justify and explain their reasoning using my favorite app Showbie.

All of these classroom structures were created with the intent to help prepare my students for the new Common Core way of testing and the CAASPP Summative Test that they will be taking in a few weeks....  I am hoping that my student's willingness to read, think and write in math class will help them be successful on Californias Summative Test. :o)

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my blog... Be sure to follow me on Twitter and get even more new ideas... :o)


  1. I love the idea of having them work as a team!

    1. Thanks... It is the best thing I have done for my classroom structure.... It is the key to the success of my students... :o)

  2. Do you have your students work in teams almost everyday? Do the students usually take notes before you do team work? And do you make up all of your notes,warm ups, team work, and assessments? I love the way you structure your class, thank you for sharing :))

    1. Yes, other than taking notes or an assessment, everything is done as a "Team". The students are in "Teams" but take notes individually.

      On a day that the lesson includes notes: the students would come in, do the "Solve It, PROVE It" as a team; I would give my color-coded, guided notes whole class; then the students would do recorder/reporter style practice problems in their teams. (I random call on teams to share their answer and PROVE It).

      Yes, I make all of my own guided notes, "Solve It, PROVE It" warm-ups, recorder/reporter practice problems, "Team Tasks", assessments, and all of my iPad lessons. :o)