Sunday, 9 October 2016

The Importance of a Growth Mindset in Math

Growth Mindsets in Math are important for student learning. 

Our youngest students are often very excited about learning math. But then something happens. I believe that  a students diminishing excitement for math is directly related to a lack of a growth mindset.

What is a Growth Mindset? 

A Growth Mindset is a philosophy promoted by Dr. Carol Dweck. With a growth mindset, we each have the ability to achieve success beyond our innate abilities. We also have the option to move forward in the face of adversity, and become successful in our own right.

When it comes to math, there is no such thing as a 'math person'. This is because a person's true potential is always unknown, or unknowable. 

But often, in school, we become focussed on getting the 'correct' answers, as fast as we can. This leads to students having fixed mindsets about their abilities in math. 

In math, we want students to NOT feel shame that there are deficiencies - this is why we learn! We all have the capacity to learn through our efforts - AND through deliberate practice. 

We also want students to understand that it is the process of learning that is important - not just the final product.

No matter where you are in your learning, you can always develop yourself further. 

 Parents can go a long way to promote Growth Mindsets at home, Here's How:

  • Avoid assuming that you are, or are not, a 'math' person. This can promote a fixed mindset in your child.
  • Have fun with math: Play math games, puzzles, cook and bake together!
  • Avoid praising speed when it comes to math
  • When a child gets an answer incorrect, instead focus on the process (logic), not the final answer (product) - try to find out what went wrong! 
  • Praise your child's 'thinking'  rather than telling them how 'smart' they are. This helps students to understand that challenge is okay. Thinking that they are 'smart' can put pressure on them to think that struggling with math is a bad thing. 

Other Reference:

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Math Links

Please check out the following links for a growing list of excellent resources for supporting math in Ontario. Please also note the inclusion of FNMI resources to support math in our classrooms.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Growth Mindsets and Math

Problem Solving in Math - Example

Problem Solving in Math Example: Gallery Walk with Patterning & Algebra

What are the goals?

  • describe and extend a geometric pattern 
  • make predictions related to this pattern 
  • investigate this problem with manipulatives 
  • ask questions present findings and 
  • express the patterning rule 

What, specifically, will I focus on?

Patterning Problem to: describe and extend a geometric pattern make predictions related to this pattern investigate this problem with manipulatives ask questions present findings and express the patterning rule.

How will I know if I am making progress towards my goal?

We will begin with a whole group discussion of the problem posed in class.

Minds on:

  1. We will engage in a think/pair/share about what a particular math problem is asking us to do, then take it up with the class until everyone understood what the problem was asking of them.
  2. Next, we will made a plan in groups of 2 - 3 with grid chart paper and interlocking cubes to organize their thinking and solve the problem 

  1. Students will carry out their plans. 
  2. As they do, teacher can observe, take anecdotal notes, and ask key questions to aid in comprehension. 
Consolidation: Gallery Walk

  1. Hang solutions on wall.
  2. Students will take sticky notes and took a gallery walk around the room to view each solution.
  3. As they view, they will ask questions about the group's solutions. 
  4. Each group will have an opportunity to present their answers to the sticky note questions. 
  5. Make plans to include more math processes including questioning, and reflecting and connecting.

Math Assessment and Home Connections

Planning for Math Instruction

Integrating Math with First Nations, Metis & Inuit Students

Integrating Math with First Nations, Metis & Inuit Students

The dominant ways in which math has always been taught in our Western society includes drill, rote learning, and a focus on math ‘authorities’ including the teacher.
This poses very serious problems for many of our mathematical learners, particularly for our First Nations, Metis & Inuit (FNMI) learners, whose perspectives and ways of knowing may not be included in the traditional curricular frameworks. Therefore, we are faced with very serious issues when it comes to considering who gets to learn math, and who will be included.
Math that is inclusive of different cultures and ways of knowing the world, is built on the awareness that math itself is about knowing the world. It is my view that we as teachers can do many wonderful things in the classroom to integrate basic skills with constructivist and culturally responsive ways of teaching math that will support multiple ways of knowing – particularly for students who are FNMI.

My Inquiry

How do we use strategies and approaches that both facilitate learning in math, AND infuse FNMI ways of knowing? We start by recognizing the importance of connections, communication and contextualization of the learning of FNMI students.
What strategies help to infuse FNMI ways of knowing, perspectives and content?

Action Plan

The following strategies comprise my action plan for integrating FNMI ways of knowing, perspectives and content into the Math Curriuclum.
First, recognize that students learn by attaching meaning to what they do. Students need to construct their own meaning of mathematics.
2. Integrate Inquiry Based Learning into math. Check out the following website from OISE on Inquiry in Math. 
3. Provide holistic learning experiences.  This includes cultural and social interactions through dialogue, language and negotiations of meaning.  This would include allowing other students, community leaders, Elders, Senatorsand other diverse resources to teach, facilitate, share and learn in our classroom.
4. It is impossible to isolate math from culture. It is important to strive to help change mindsets about what ‘real’ math is. Ask ourselves questions including is math about making financial transactions? Is it about complex beading, knitting, or making intricate porcupine quill boxes? Are our cultural routines linked to math? Become aware of how math is linked with culture.
5. Aim to create equal opportunities for Math learning for Aboriginal students. However, exercising caution not to merely integrate holidays, artifacts, stories and more merely as a form of ‘tokenism’. Also, exercising caution not to make FNMI students solely responsible for adding culture and learning to the math classroom.
6. Engage in Culturally Responsive Teaching of mathematics. When we don’t include culture in math, we are essentially positioning people ‘outside’ of math. Serious implications thus arise as FNMI students are at a greater risk of being forced into negative math mindsets and math deficiencies. Culturally responsive teaching is about understanding surrounding communities, and making the program ‘Student-Centered’.
7. Step outside of traditional curriculum frameworks. Not Big ideas and high expectations, but the pedagogical frameworks. When we try to add culture, content, perspectives and ideas to math, we can change the traditional curriculum frameworks. Mathematical learning that incorporates FNMI perspectives, content and ways of knowing, should not be an add-on. We need to make sure that we change our traditional frameworks lest we inadvertently continue to promote the ‘othering’ and exclusion from math.

Deborah McCallum