Saturday, February 20, 2016

Join us for a Conversation about Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler

At dinner the other night a teacher friend of mine said that reading Boaler's book, Mathematical Mindsets, was like having someone tell you that everything you thought and knew to be true about teaching is actually true and also researched based. Many of the ideas that we've intuitively understood to be true as educators are yes, indeed correct, and the multiple ways we've often been told to do our jobs, in fact, are often not brain-friendly or conducive to positive and successful learning experiences.

That being said, Boaler also takes our gut instincts about what's right and good for students and learning, and pushes us to deepen our understanding and eliminate the many myths that permeate our ideas and practice about what it means to learn and teach math well. She challenges us to remake the math classroom for our students, which in turn, will deliver to us more engaged, active, and successful math students. Who can argue with that?

At my school on March 14th, I'm inviting colleagues to join me to discuss the book. Then again, on March 22nd, +Rik Rowe and +David Hochheiser have kindly agreed to focus #edchatma (an edchat for Massachusetts educators and others) on a discussion about the points made in Boaler's book. +Jo Boaler has agreed to join us for the chat from 8pm to 9pm EST. If you're interested in discussing the book and/or developing your math teaching and learning, please join us for the discussion.

I must say it was difficult coming up with a list of ten questions for the discussion after reading the book since the book is filled with great ideas, research, and challenge. In fact, the book is so good, that I've been carrying it around with me and sharing it with almost every educator I meet. At the Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teachers and Teaching Conference (ECET2) in San Diego recently, I pulled out the book again and again as educators discussed multiple points related to teaching well. Rather than share the book with a colleague who keeps asking to share, I'm simply going to buy her a copy since I know I'll be using the book daily as I craft posters, lead student discussions, and create and present multiple open tasks in the days to come during math class. 

That being said, I've come up with ten questions that will lead our discussion in real time on 3/14 with school colleagues and again online on March 22 from 8pm-9pm EST via #edchatma on Twitter. If you've never participated in an #edchat conversation before, this link by +Cybrary Man provides a good introduction. 

Questions for the Conversation about Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler
  1. 8:00: Welcome to #edchatma. Please introduce yourself and tell us where you are from and why you've decided to join the chat tonight.
  2. 8:05: In what ways do you or will you encourage students' growth mindset with regard to math learning and teaching? How will your classroom, language, activities, and professional learning reflect this?
  3. 8:10: How will you bring Boaler's research to life in your math class to promote a more positive, brain-friendly, successful math learning/teaching environment?
  4. 8:15 In what ways will you create math teaching and learning opportunities that are more equitable and successful for all students?
  5. 8:20: How will you foster and encourage positive, successful student collaboration in the math classroom?
  6. 8:25: Will Boaler's research change the way you view and assign homework? If so, how?
  7. 8:30: How do you support, embed, and make visible a multidimensional approach to math teaching, learning, assessment, and success?
  8. 8:35: Has reading this book changed or affirmed your thoughts about tracking? Will the research and ideas presented in the book promote change in your teaching/learning environment?
  9. 8:40: Do you employ open-ended, inquiry based projects in the math classroom? If so, what are some of the specific strengths or examples of this approach? If not, what questions do you have about this approach?
  10. 8:45: How might you update or change the math learning/teaching physical environment to better support open-ended, inquiry based learning and teaching?
  11. 8:50: What questions do you have with regard to the book? Where will you take tonight's conversation with respect to your work with the learning community including students, families, colleagues, leaders, and community members?
Overall what makes me most excited about Boaler's book and the upcoming conversations is that this is evidence of a much more promising and positive path with regard to math learning and teaching for all students and teachers. As Boaler states, "Viva la Revolution!"