Category: classroom structure

Expecting Questions

I have mixed feelings about student questions. We (as teachers) act like we want students to ask questions; however, there are plenty of implicit messages about teaching that tell us that good teachers don’t need students to ask questions. One of the oldest pillars of teaching tells us to provide adequate wait time for students to formulate and ask questions, …

Using Visible Random Groups in Assessments

Since the onset of my career, I have been keenly interested in how students work together in the contexts of school. We know that students (and humans in general… actually animals in general) form collectives to accomplish elaborate tasks. These traffic jams of human interaction transcend individuality to the point where the level of activity …

Counting Circles Brainstorm

Let it be known that Sadie Estrella is a Hawaiian treasure.She made her way north for SUM2015 in Saskatoon and I got the opportunity to learn from her about counting circles (as well as share an eventful dinner). It is probably good to understand her work on counting circles before reading a couple of ideas I had during her session. I …

Clothesline Series

I joined a middle years math community organized by my school division. I have a growing interest in the transition of students from middle school to high school because many of the tasks I use or create get at middle years content. I’m wondering what knowledge students come to my room with and what atmosphere …

Navigating Collectivity: Grade 9 Fractions

“I hate fractions” – Everyone Today an amazing thing happened; students put aside the endemic disdain for rational numbers and had a conversation. I’d go further, they weren’t discussing their views on fractions, they were collectively conjecturing–the moves of the room enacted each other. I don’t think that a written document can capture the movement …

On Collective Consciousness and Individual Epiphanies

I would like to begin with a conjecture: The amount of collective action in a learning system is inversely related to the possible degree of curricular specificity.  The mathematical action of a group of learners centred on a particular task gives rise to a unique way of being with the problem, but also reinvents the …

The Review Day: Unit Analysis and Scale Factor

There seems to be three sacred cows in mathematics education: the worksheet / exercise set the review day the exam It is not surprising that these three feed off one another, and make up the bulk of assessment in the typical mathematics classroom (including my own). Here’s my disclaimer:While I have been known to slaughter a …

Large Whiteboard Project

Group whiteboarding has changed how I teach mathematics. It has also changed how students operate as a community of mathematicians.  Since ordering my first set of large whiteboards, our department has ordered four times again, and given workshops to the division’s mathematics teachers. (For a tour through my whiteboarding history, start here: mini whiteboards) My …

Math Class Starters

I am very distractible. Students know this; I know this. For this and multiple other reasons (including insipid tardiness on the part of my students) the first few minutes of class is often filled with retrieving forgotten textbooks, quieting down the pockets of flirtation, and acknowledging the students who show up two minutes late with …