The CC Math Practices or What do Mathematicians Do?

posted Feb 6, 2012, 5:40 AM by Sarah Caban   [ updated Feb 6, 2012, 5:45 AM ]
When we first started looking at the Common Core Mathematical Practices, I think we were all a little overwhelmed.  We rolled our sleeves up and tried to decipher what these practices might look like in our classrooms.  Now, I think we are feeling more comfortable identifying these practices in our classrooms. 

The Common Core math standards offer more depth than standards we have used in the past.  In order for our students to engage in the depth of learning that will be required of them, they need to be engaging in the Common Core Mathematical practices.  There is just no way around it.  In order for students to be intellectually challenged, they need to be comfortable persevering in problem solving,  justifying their own reasoning and critiquing the reasoning of others.  If we are going to make a successful transition to implementing the Common Core Standards, we need to embed the Mathematical Practices into the structure of our Math classes.  The practices need to be pervasive in our classrooms and schools, K-12.  

A lot of teachers have been asking me to model using the Context of Mathematics series in their classes.  This series is an excellent way to begin implementing the CC math practices because the practices are embedded in the lessons.  There is no "magic" program, but the Context of Mathematics series is useful for offering teachers, themselves,  an opportunity to engage in the math practices, while simultaneously creating a rigorous and differentiated problem solving experience for their students; an experience that supports the Common Core Mathematical Practices.
The best way to engage students in the CC math practices is to create a problem solving experience which encourages using these practices.  Then, scaffold a discussion about what "mathematicians" do.  Ask the students to identify "how" they were learning.  If the problem solving experience is well planned, the students will authentically identify the CC math practices in their own words. 

This is a chart that a third grade teacher developed after scaffolding a series of carefully constructed problem solving experiences. Notice how the student language mirrors the CC practices:

I have attached several documents below.  The "student friendly" posters of the CC math practices are great.  I caution people to hang them up all at once.  I think they would be most useful incorporated into the type of experience that I mentioned earlier. Let the students authentically identify the practices and then connect their language to the posters.  In fact, it would be awesome to have your students create their own posters, but I know that would take time. 

The identifying CC math practice cubes look really promising.  The one I have attached is a sample.  I like these cubes better than the posters mentioned above because the authors offer suggestions for how to implement the practices and the cubes are more interactive then the posters. 
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Sarah Caban,
Feb 6, 2012, 5:40 AM
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Sarah Caban,
Feb 6, 2012, 5:40 AM
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Sarah Caban,
Feb 6, 2012, 5:40 AM
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