Archive for April, 2017
Christopher Danielson, a mathematics author, teacher, and curriculum developer from Minnesota, has won the Mathical Prize for his book, Which One Doesn’t Belong? A Shapes Book.
The award will be presented to Danielson on April 22 by the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) at the National Math Festival in Washington, DC. Danielson won the award in the Grades 3-5 category.
“For a number of years I have longed for a better shapes book,” said Danielson. “I wanted a shapes book that gives space for noticing relationships, asking questions, and thinking together,” said Danielson. “I designed Which One Doesn’t Belong? to be an invitation to a mathematical conversation.”
The book–which is intended to be used by children, parents, and teachers–features sets of four shapes with the recurring question, “which one doesn’t belong?’ Any of the shapes can be the right answer; the key is getting kids to justify their answer in their own language. The school version comes with an extensive teacher’s guide, including an “answers key” that describes one possible argument that can be made for each shape in the book. Which One Doesn’t Belong? and the teacher’s guide can both be ordered from Stenhouse.
“Which One Doesn’t Belong? encourages children to use mathematical thinking to explore new concepts,” wrote the committee who awarded the prize. “The layout is brilliant and in classroom testing, children were active readers, enthusiastic to share their insights and justifications in the discussion. Perhaps the best feature is that questions have no single, simple answer!”
Danielson has worked with math learners of all ages—12 year-olds in his former middle school classroom, Calculus students at Normandale Community College, teachers in professional development, and young children and their families at Math On-A-Stick at the Minnesota State Fair. He designs curriculum at Desmos. He is the author of Common Core Math For Parents For Dummies, the shapes book Which One Doesn’t Belong?, and the forthcoming counting book How Many? He blogs about teaching on Overthinking My Teaching, and for parents at Talking Math with Your Kids. He earned his B.A. in mathematics from Boston University, his M.A. in Education from the University of Michigan, and his Ph.D. in Mathematics Education from Michigan State University.
The Mathical Book Prize is organized by MSRI in partnership with the National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE) and the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM).
April 21st, 2017
As we prepare for the publication of the new, third edition of Strategies That Work, we enjoyed seeing pictures of your well-loved and used copies of the previous two editions. The winner who will receive a free copy of the new edition is Karla Silbernagel. Here are some of the images you sent us:
April 17th, 2017
We are excited to again celebrate National Poetry Month with the help of poet Shirley McPhillips, author of Poem Central. She introduces us to “word sketches” as a way of slowing down, noticing details, finding the wonder if everyday details. She offers some ideas for trying out word sketches in the classroom.
A Sketch in Time: Poets Painting the Moment
By Shirley McPhillips
The poet, in the novelty of his images, is always the origin of language.
—Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space
One morning this fall, I found myself walking in circles—this time by design. A teen’s Boy Scout project resulted in fashioning a labyrinth on the lush green lawn of his church. A labyrinth—not a maze intended to confuse, but a circular pathway for thoughtful or meditative walking, intended to soothe and heal. At first it was hard to quiet my mind. Walking the labyrinth over time, however, my feet found a rhythm. My mind centered as if following a heartbeat.
Yet still, the rattling times we live in can knock attention, rapid fire, from one matter to the next. Even nature seems to join in with erratic weather patterns—disorienting record heat in February followed by epic arctic blasts. But the lesson of the labyrinth becomes a touchstone: allow the quiet voice inside you to speak; put your attention to the mysteries of a moment, find the surprise, feel the wonder.
Writing “word sketches” is one way teacher-writers and their students can practice finding the wonder in moments of their daily lives. Anyone can train the eye by frequent sketching—slowing the gaze to follow the lines of an object. A simple sketch a day (a coffee cup, a candle, a pear, a chair), even done quickly, can result over time in “seeing” of a different kind—noticing the drama of light and dark, the intricacy of detail and design, the subtle vigor of white space. Writing short word sketches holds the same promise.
The sophistication of the word sketches will, of course, depend upon the experience of the writers and will vary one from another. But, we can start with paying attention: jotting in our notebooks, making lists of what we see—on a walk to school, driving to work, looking out the window.
-a wet street
-an old plate
As we go, we find our “noticings” becoming more particular and nuanced, especially if we share them, chart them, join others in finding things intriguing.
Next, we’ll want to get some language around what we notice. What else? Where? Doing what? Make a picture.
-the wet street streaked with colors
-a sparrow peeking out of a drainpipe
-two white chairs at the beach
-a plate with cracks in it
Zoom in closer. Enter the moment as if it were a painting. Look around with all your senses. Find the uniqueness. Get out the paints. Don’t be afraid to find unusual words to paint with.
Jack pictures himself walking along a wet side street in his boots. Colors from the buildings are reflected in the rain. His elaborated sketch has the tone and brevity of haiku.
On a narrow street
rain paints a watercolor—
boots brush a slick design.
Shuyi imagines the sparrow working tirelessly to make a home in such an ignoble place. We know, without any mention of a nest. A true poet.
has built its palace
in a drainpipe.
Mr. Vitturi writes a pure image. Then, like Shuyi, pushes himself to imagine something surprising.
Two white chairs, sunwashed,
sit side by side at the beachfront—
a seat for seagulls.
Sometimes word sketches can be the start of a longer image. Or they can find their way into an elaborated poem. Often, looking back through my notebook, I find lines that seem right in a new poem. Lila pushes past the “cracked plate” observation to find the heart of a longer poem based on a personal story. She sticks very close to the image, revealing “the poem within the poem.” We can see how her practice with observation and detail, her sense of image, sticks with her as she composes “The Cracked Plate.”
Afternoon tea, with tea things spread out
on a lace scarf she made
when she was an English girl,
thin now like the skin of her hands,
lifting the delicate pot to pour.
We sit and talk about different things,
like the cookies on the cracked plate
with the castle scene and the gold rim,
some of this and some of that.
The way we lift our cups and our cookies
to our lips. The way she says, “Do have another,
my dear,” lifting up the cracked plate that holds
so much of what we love.
April 4th, 2017
At Stenhouse, we spend a lot of time thinking about how to create resources that are useful for teachers. We are always eager to hear how teachers, coaches, and administrators use our books, videos, and courses in practice. That’s why we’re especially excited about Jill Gough and Jennifer Wilson’s upcoming NCSM preconference. In it, they’ll be talking about how they use professional literature to grow their teaching practice. How do they apply what they’ve read? How do they collaborate, both in-person and online, to reflect on that application with their colleagues? What new learning and productive changes in teaching practice result from that work?
We asked Jennifer and Jill for a sneak peek of their session, and we’re happy to share it with you here. We hope you can join them in San Antonio, or follow along online.
Read, Apply, Learn
By Jill Gough and Jennifer Wilson
In Kindergarten Reading Workshop this week, the teaching point was when we want to learn new things, we first read what experts say. Now, it is clear that we are preparing our young learners for a unit on nonfiction reading and on research. What if we transfer that simple, direct teaching point to our own work?
We set three goals this year as a team of teachers committed to narrowing the achievement gap for our learners. These goals are to learn more math, to scale what we learn across our schools, and to more deeply understand the Standards for Mathematical Practices. With these goals, we have to ask, what do experts say?
We have been reading a lot lately, and we have been considering how to share what we are trying and learning in both our home communities and in a more global community. We are now studying and strongly recommend 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions by Mary Kay Stein and Margaret Smith, NCTM’s publication, Principles to Action, The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How. by Daniel Coyle, Beyond Answers: Exploring Mathematical Practices with Young Children from Mike Flynn, and Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had: Ideas and Strategies from Vibrant Classrooms by Tracy Zager and more.
In Beyond Answers, Mike Flynn suggests “We need to give students the opportunity to develop their own rich and deep understanding of our number system. With that understanding, they will be able to develop and use a wide array of strategies in ways that make sense for the problem at hand.” How might we slow down to afford our students the opportunity to develop their own deep understanding and grow their own mathematical flexibility? What will be gained when our young learners have acquired a deep foundation of understanding, confidence, and competence?
In Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had, Tracy Zager encourages us to engage our learners in productive struggle so that they are “challenged and learning”. She writes “As long as learners are engaged in productive struggle, even if they are headed toward a dead end, we need to bite our tongues and let students figure it out. Otherwise, we rob them of their well-deserved, satisfying, wonderful feelings of accomplishment when they make sense of problems and persevere.”
So what does productive struggle look like in the classroom with students? What does productive struggle look like in professional learning communities with teachers? How do we learn to bite our tongues and give students time to figure it out? What stories can you share about students engaged in productive struggle?
What if we take ideas and apply them in our learning and teaching? What might we learn about our students, ourselves, and mathematics? What is to be gained by reflecting on our learning and sharing our thinking with our PLN here, there, and everywhere?
We look forward to considering these questions Sunday at our NCSM pre-conference session. And we look forward to sharing what we learn and discuss with those who can’t attend in real-time on Twitter and later through our blogs.
Jill (@jgough) – Sneak Peek on Flexibility: Experiments in Learning by Doing
Jennifer (@jwilson828) – Sneak Peek on Empowering Learners: Easing the Hurry Syndrome
#NCSM17 #LearnAndShare #SlowMath
Flynn, Michael. 2017 Beyond Answers: Exploring Mathematical Practices with Young Children. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.
Zager, Tracy. 2017. Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had: Ideas and Strategies from Vibrant Classrooms. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.
Jill Gough learns, serves, and teaches as the Director of Teaching and Learning at Trinity School. Previously, she taught in the Westminster Schools, after 14 years of teaching in public schools in Mississippi and at the Kiski School of Pennsylvania. Jill received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching in 1998 and Mathematical Association of America’s Sliffe Award in 2006 for excellence in teaching junior high.
Jennifer Wilson has been an educator for 24 years, spending 20 of those years teaching and learning mathematics with students at Northwest Rankin High School in Flowood, Mississippi. She currently teaches Advanced Placement Calculus and Geometry and also serves as a Curriculum Specialist with the Rankin County School District. Jennifer is an advocate for #slowmath, in which students and teachers take the time to enjoy mathematics.
April 1st, 2017