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Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Young Mathematicians At Work

Written by Rebecca Forchuk, Director of Staff Development
Cathy Fosnot Session: Young Mathematicians at Work 

During our PD day with Cathy Fosnot, she shared the process of Conferrals, which are intended to develop and support mathematical thinking…not about finding correct answers.  She stressed the importance of listening intently and asking good questions while conferencing with students where “every move [she] makes is about making the community move forward” (Fosnot, 2017). While she modeled what conferrals sound like with a group of 15 teachers, she asked the rest of the audience to write down the kinds of questions she asked. 

Here are the questions I heard.  While reading them, I urge you to:
1.     Reflect how these questions may be different than those we typically hear in math.
2.     If you don’t teach math, reflect on how these kinds of questions can be used and reframed in different subject areas. 
3.     Consider how these questions develop a safe, welcoming learning environment that is foundational to high levels of learning. 

Questions posed by Cathy Fosnot:

-How did you solve it?
-Can you share your thinking?
-How did your thinking from the last one help you with this one?
-What made you decide it was doubled?
-Is that what you’re saying?
-Turn and talk about the visual representation and see if you’re thinking about it the same way.
-Turn to your partner and tell your partner what you did.
-I was listening to your conversations and I found it interesting…What did you notice?
-Is that a conjecture you just made?
-Can we figure out why?!
-Can someone try to defend his answer? Who agreed?
-Let me see if we’re right…
-Are you seeing…?
-Are you suggesting a friendly amendment to the conjecture?
-Are we “cracking” division?
-Does anyone else have something interesting to add to the community?
-Is there something we can use to simplify…?
-Is there anything nice we can do with that?
-Is this the same as…?
-You had a question. Would you mind sharing your question because if  you’re going to ask it, so are others?
-Could we also write it as…..Turn and talk – is that true?
-You tell me if I get it right because it is your idea.
-What if I don’t have a ….?

As Cathy reiterated, these questions are about making strategic decisions when reflection is needed and to build the community’s understanding of a big idea in math.  The strings of numbers are carefully crafted; they scaffold using easier numbers to support development of big ideas, craft related numbers, and listen intently for those big ideas.  Last but not least, celebrate  student thinking!

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Practical Ideas for managing cell phone distraction in the classroom

Hi all,

Common sense Media (http://www.commonsense.org) are a not for profit organization that provide resources in the areas of digital citizenship and media literacy.  I've subscribed to a number of their list servers including Digital Citizenship.

The most recent post talks about the ongoing question of "What do I do about cell phones in my classroom" and provides some balanced strategies to set expectations and teach students to use their devices in a meaningful and appropriate way without it turning into a war.  Click the link below for the full article.


Yours in learning,