I am a big fan of Sherrie Nackel’s blog, Middle School Math Rules! She’s earned a number of prestigious accolades for her writing, and she offers great insight into her classroom and her thinking (bonus: a lot of her stuff is on Teachers Pay Teachers, and she has freebies up once in a while!). Anyway, she decided to do a book study on Wendy Ward Hoffer’s Minds on Mathematics: Using Math Workshop to Develop Deep Understanding in Grade 4-8.
I have been looking for a way to change things up a bit and incorporate more SMP (Standards of Mathematical Practice) problems into my classroom. I am also looking for a way to better structure my class and work time, so I decided to give this book a try.
After having finished chapter 1, I really feel like this book is going to be helpful for me this coming school year. I won’t spoil the chapter for those who are interested, but here are some key points that I LOVE from this chapter. (Minds on Mathematics, p. 3)
- “Students are capable of brilliance.”
- “Understanding takes time.”
- “There is more than one way.”
(I’m totally turning that into a poster. And probably a little card that is taped to each desk.)
Kids really, really need to know that they all CAN DO MATH, but that it takes a little bit longer for some of us than it does others, and that not one method works for all people. I always tell kids, “If you can explain or show me your thinking, I am okay with however you got the answer.”
Also, a successful workshop-model classroom does the following (Minds on Mathematics, p.5):
- “engage with worthy, minds-on tasks and important mathematical ideas”
- enjoy time to think, work, and communicate with others
- “construct mathematical understanding for themselves, and”
- reflect upon their own development as mathematical thinkers and mathematicians
Hoffer also presents the timing and pacing for a workshop model, as well as a template for lesson planning within the workshop format. So far, the book is worth the read!