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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Back to School: Making Character and Positive Mathematical Mindsets Visible in our Daily Efforts

These points are copied exactly from Jo Boaler's book, Mathematical Mindsets, page 172-173
It's been a wonderful vacation week of mostly doing what I want to do, and now it's time to ready for the return to school.

I outlined the plans a week ago Friday at the start of vacation, and now I want to focus on some of the specific lessons and routines I'll employ to develop craft and better teaching/learning.

With regard to my work to embed Boaler's research outlined in her book, Mathematical Mindsets, I'll start each math class tomorrow with the following information:
  • First, I want to thank all of you (students) for your kindness and support, I've written a thank you note to you that includes a personal note. Please bring home these notes and share them with your family members.
  • Next, I read a lot about math over vacation, and I want you to help me include the following focus areas that I read about in Jo Boaler's book, Mathematical Mindsets*, (hold up the book) in each math lesson. New learning takes time and I need your help.
    • Everyone can learn math to the highest levels.
    • Mistakes are Valuable.
    • Questions are Really Important
    • Math is about Creativity and Making Sense
    • Math is about Connections and Communicating
    • Depth is Much More Important than Speed
    • Math Class is about Learning, Not Performing 
  • Today we're going to look at, color code, and talk about a number of measurement models as one way to prepare for tomorrow's systemwide test. As we noticed in Mr. Rockwell's wonderful model, a good picture or model helps people to make sense of and remember big ideas. So take out your colored pencils, and let's get ready to study these models together.
In the weeks ahead, I'll turn Boaler's big ideas and practice suggestions into real time lessons, posters, and projects to both embed her wonderful work into my practice and also use her powerful research to develop students' math interest, skill, and application.

I also want to start the day tomorrow by making a bridge to the learning we did before we left for vacation. As students trickle in, they will clean their desks and ready for the week. Then I'll welcome them back with a meeting on the rug. I'll congratulate them on their Character Day efforts, and tell them that we're going to extend that learning and effort in the days ahead. I'll mention that it's a small effort to talk about big ideas like character, but it's a much greater effort to actually make those ideas visible in your day-to-day talking, studying, and playing. 

I'll then say, I want you to think about how we can make the attributes of character visible in our classroom and school as you watch this J.K. Rowling speech. Remember that to make something visible means that you can see the actions and hear the words that demonstrate those specific big ideas. 

We'll then watch J.K. Rowling's speech, and after that we'll begin working on the following chart in small groups:
On Friday, partner groups will each focus on one aspect of character and make a poster about that attribute. Student groups will cut up their original worksheets and give the line that relates to each poster to the partner group in charge of that attribute. Each partner groups will consolidate all the information into one great line about how we can make that element of character visible in our school and classroom. 

So on day one after the vacation, the focus will include positive mathematical mindsets, measurement models, and character attributes. That will set the stage well for the study to come until our next break in April.

*The attributes listed above come directly from the book Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler