Back to school: Elevate instruction, engage students and empower learning
byAugust 07th, 2015
As planning for the school year ramps up, you're probably thinking about your goals as an educator and what you want to accomplish in the year ahead. As you develop lesson plans, perhaps you are thinking about how you want to use learning experiences that extend and deepen your students' mathematical skills and understanding. Ideally, your instructional methods should engage students and empower their learning. These goals can seem like a big undertaking, but by focusing on them, you can have a productive year.
Identifying or creating these types of experiences can seem overwhelming. Don't worry; we are here to support you! We have a variety of resources to help you meet your instructional objectives. Working together, we can engage, elevate, and empower, so you and your students have a highly productive year.
Teaching students the why behind mathematics not only engages them, but it also helps them better grasp both foundational and complex concepts. As such, teaching for understanding can boost your instructional approach.
The more you understand the conceptual foundations, progressions, and intent of the Mathematics standards you teach, the better equipped you will be to choose and use effective learning experiences. Additionally, incorporating practices like math talk and getting students involved in discussion will impact student engagement while developing their understanding. You can use our books as back-to-school resources for elevating your instruction. Some titles we suggest include:
- "Classroom Discussions in Math: A Teacher's Guide for Using Talk Moves to Support the Common Core and More, Grades K-6, 3rd Edition." This book provides talk moves that can help you facilitate effective discussions between students and as a whole class. Getting students talking and sharing ideas will keep them engaged, and it's part of elevating your instruction techniques.
- "About Teaching Mathematics: A K-8 Resource, Fourth Edition." This resource, written by Marilyn Burns, provides pedagogical support for math teachers and includes a plethora of engaging tasks to help you develop your instructional skills.
You can also elevate your instruction for the new school year by finding a coach. Math Solutions coaching can provide you with targeted and specific tools for addressing the needs of your students. Our coaching is designed to hone, develop and add to the knowledge and experience you currently have. For more information about our coaching services and the programs we offer, visit our coaching page.
Engaged students are more likely to build mathematical connections and develop skills. The key lies in your instructional approach. Many students mentally tune out of math class if they aren't given opportunities to understand why they're doing what they're doing. Simply learning a formula detaches students from its purpose. For this reason, targeting understanding is necessary for engagement. If students discover why a concept works, they can learn to apply it.
"Simply learning a formula detaches students from its purpose."
You can develop students' math understanding using proven instructional methods. For instance, developing your questioning strategies can help to reveal, build, and cement student understanding. The questions you use, how you apply them and the way you facilitate discussion amongst students all contribute to math talk and engagement levels.
Many of our resources can help you develop strategies for applying math talk and developing effective questions, including these books:
- "Number Talks: Helping Children Build Mental Math and Computation Strategies, Updated with Common Core Connections, Grades K-5." This title focuses on developing student strategies for using mental math. The book provides insights into how to scaffold content to build student computational skills and use of the properties of operations.
- Good Questions, Complete Series has two books that can help you develop strategies for crafting effective questions and tasks. The teaching of math is at the center of this series, which provides engagement tasks that support teachers' pedagogical learning.
- "Classroom Discussions in Math," as mentioned above.
- "INFORMative Assessment: Formative Assessment to Improve Math Achievement, Grades K-6." This publication presents a collection of strategies that engage teachers and students in becoming partners to support students' learning. The pages include must-have practices and ideas for how to implement them.
Professional learning will elevate your instruction and empower student learning. By honing your knowledge and skills as instructor/teacher, you give your students a clearer picture of math and the tools they need to develop understanding. Many students say the reason they are proficient at math is thanks to a teacher who cared and went above and beyond for them.
Best of luck during the back-to-school season! We know you'll do a great job.