Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Back to School with a Home Run!

By Cassandra Hatfield, RME Assessment Coordinator

This summer I attended two trainings. Each training was aligned to different standards: (1) the newly revised Texas TEKS to be implemented in the 2014-2015 school year and (2) the Common Core State Standards. Although aligned to different standards, both of these trainings highlighted the math Process Standards in Principles and Standards for School Mathematics (NCTM, 2000) and the National Research Council’s Strands of Mathematical Proficiency discussed in Adding It Up. A common theme exemplified through the trainings was that it is essential for mathematics instruction to move beyond rote procedural knowledge and for instruction to be grounded in conceptual understanding and mathematical reasoning.

While attending these trainings I heard teachers, specialists, and administrators grappling with when and how to make this shift in instruction. Sherry Parrish’s resource Number Talks: Helping Children Build Mental Math and Computation Strategies is an incredible learning adventure that enables an individual teacher, a team of teachers, or a teacher leader to make changes in classroom instruction and build students repertoire of computational strategies in just five to fifteen minutes a day! By using this resource teachers are given the opportunity to “hit it out of the park” by:
  1. Promoting environment and community
  2. Facilitating classroom discussion
  3. Developing the role of mental math
  4. Providing purposeful computation problems
I’ve implemented this resource in more than 25 classrooms over the past three years and have seen the joy from students as they move from being told how to compute to telling how they computed and seen the confidence they have build as they have moved from counting on their fingers to using flexible mental math strategies. In addition, many teachers I’ve worked with have used this resource to help them shift their teaching style into being a facilitator. In the beginning it can be overwhelming, but start with the basic fact problem sets and enjoy the journey with your students.

Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI). 2010. Common Core State Standards for mathematical practice. Washington, DC: National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). (2000). Principles and standards for school mathematics. Reston, VA: NCTM.

Kilpatrick, J., Swafford, J. & Findell, B. (Eds.). (2001). Adding it up: Helping children learn mathematics. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Parrish, Sherry D (2010). Number talks: Helping children build mental math and computations strategies. Sausalito, CA: Math Solutions.

Parrish, Sherry D (2011). Number talks build numerical reasoning. Teaching Children Mathematics, 18(3). 198–206.

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