With the huge focus on literacy in special education, we often don't have the resources we need to support our students who also struggle with math. Math educators have found new techniques to help all students improve number sense, the foundational understanding of numbers, numeracy and quantitative thinking.
The website grew out the Noyce Foundation's Silicon Valley Mathematics Initiative, designed to support math instruction in northern California. Good news! We can all access these great resources
Resources for Common Core State Standards
As 45 of 50 states and five of six territories have adopted the Common Core State Standards, many teachers are scrambling to find resources to support instruction that meets the standards. Many of these standards push a deeper and broader understanding of mathematics in ways that will support real world applications. Success in mathematics is much more than computational efficiency. It includes mathematical reasoning, abstract and quantitative thinking as well as well as the ability to model and solve real world mathematical problems.
The Inside Math website was designed to meet this need. It includes a links for the content standards at each grade level, which includes "Problems of the Month" for the standards. It also has strategies to meet the 8 practice strategies, along with exemplary lessons to help teachers see how to implement the practices they recommend.
A Broader Target Audience
When perusing the site, it seems evident that the participating schools in California have adopted a "Math Coach" model for supporting instruction. We had a model somewhat like that in Philadelphia. It reflects a strong commitment to developing strength in math, a challenge in these tight times. Still, the website provides a number of resources to people in leadership roles around math. It includes interviews on lesson planning as well as examples of coaches working with teachers as they planned. They provide really effect ways of understanding the new strategies that are being proposed. It also includes a power point by David Foster, the director, which lays out the philosophy and direction of math instruction for the twenty first century.
The website also provides resources for administrators, including templates for teacher observation. Certainly, one of the important things that these resources do is give teachers a sense of what are considered the measure of good mathematics teaching. Certainly, it's evident that includes engaging students and leading them to use strategies to help them construct their own understanding of learning.
Videos to Demonstrate the Strategies
Among the new teaching strategies suggested for building operational fluency as well as mathematical thinking and number sense, is the "Number Talk." Number talks encourage students to converse together about ways to solve math problems posed by teachers. It teaches students one of the important practice standards, Practice Standard 1: Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them. The videos provide real time, authentic demonstrations of how Number talks are used in the classroom setting.
The videos also include a number of "public lessons," modeling the teaching strategies across grades and content standards. There are lessons about number reasoning and lessons about geometry. These videos give the practitioner not only a chance to witness the methods, but also a chance to alleviate any apprehension a teacher might feel about such a different, student centered, approach to instruction.
If you are only interested in lesson plans that you can print and hand out, this site is not going to be much help. If you are a teacher supporting students in math or teaching math, this site provides invaluable examples of how to use the strategies we are hearing about in inservice training and in graduate classes. As a special education teacher, I find the level of engagement really wonderful, since our students often learn as well from peers as they do from us (if not better.) By all means, check it out!
I hope, if you are working as a resource teacher, or pushing into a general education classroom to support math, that you will watch some of the videos that apply to you and share the strategies with your general education partners.