Front Page Forums Chapter 02 Forum Summer 2017 Book Study Question

This topic contains 13 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Adrianne Burns 8 months, 1 week ago.

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  • #4557 Reply

    Anthony Purcell

    What do you do in your math classroom to help students become mathematicians and not just “do math”? What inspired you in this chapter that you want to try in the classroom?

  • #4559 Reply

    Tricia Buys

    After reading this book, I decided to go back and take notes (by chapter) on what is most meaningful to me. Here’s was spoke to me in chapter 2:

    ·      Math is NOT: “I do, we do, you do” procedures; it is not demonstrations, guided practices, and drills; speed is not a prerequisite for being good at math

    ·      Math IS: noticing, wondering, imagining, asking, investigating, figuring out, reasoning, connecting, perseverance, resourcefulness, sense-making, and proving

    I am just finishing my first year as a K-6 math coach after being an elementary teacher (mostly fourth grade) for 11 years.  I was placed in the newly created position of math coach.  I definitely had an interest in my new job opportunity but didn’t have the training that most people would have coming into this position.  I did, however, learn some valuable things about math across the grade levels in my quaint country school!

    Do you see the “Math is NOT” list above?  That’s basically what we have in our school and it makes sense to me why that is true.  We have a very seasoned staff and they teach the way they were taught.  It’s what they know!  They have never had a math coordinator  or coach available to them to help them to explore better ways of teaching!

    As my first year as a coach is coming to an end, I can honestly say that we have a long way to go.  But, we have certainly taken some steps in the right direction!  Number Talks were incorporated into grades K-4 three times per week.  3-Act-Tasks, Estimation 180, and Splats were introduced to certain grade levels.  We have opted to not be married to the textbook and instead, use the CCSS and Math Practices as our guide.  I have seen first hand that these lessons have moved us toward the list of what “Math IS”.  I modeled asking questions and allowing students to create their own understanding and the teachers began to follow suit because they saw the students coming alive!  I call our second grade students my “gold” because of the growth they have made!  These amazing youngsters are noticing, wondering, reasoning, figuring out, persevering, and making sense of math through multiple pathways.  The second grade teachers said on a few occasions that they have never had students who could think the way their kids can think or do the things that their kids can do!

    I wish that I had the knowledge that I have now when I had my own classroom!  I would have been a much better math teacher!  It seems that the more I learn about math, the more there is to learn!  I find it to be very exciting and I hope that working along with all of you, I will continue to learn and grow!



    • #4560 Reply

      Anthony Purcell


      I love how you are helping them see the value of trying new things. I’m sure it hasn’t been easy and I’m sure there has been some pushback, but I hope they can see the value and keep improving. Share excerpts from the book and your notes with them! It will make a difference.

    • #4562 Reply


      Tricia, thanks so much for this comment. I hope you’ll keep sharing your notes about what was most meaningful to you!


    • #4594 Reply

      Alexa Fulmer

      I totally agree with what math is and is not! Getting people to change can be difficult.

    • #4578 Reply

      Kathy Felt

      Hi Tricia,

      I can relate to what you are saying! I left the classroom 2 years ago to be a district math coach. (But, alas, I missed the classroom too much and returned to the classroom last year.) Math teachers, more than any other content area, tend to teach as they were taught. It is a huge leap of faith to teach differently when we know learning happens the old way (we did, right?). But, it is so important to see the growth students can make when taught in a more engaging and thought provoking way. Keep fighting the good fight! Keep sharing what innovators are doing in the classroom today. It is slow going, but the teachers will follow when they see how excited the kids are in the classroom.

  • #4561 Reply

    Laura Wagenman

    Getting my students to see themselves as mathematicians started Day 1. We used Jo Boaler’s Norms and related each to the work they’ve done and will do. We discussed patterns and how that is critical to being a mathematician. Students found patterns at home, in class, throughout the day. They found the math in their daily activities and couldn’t contain their excitement when we started using Estimation 180, Visual Patterns, Which One Doesn’t Belong, Open Middle, and Would You Rather Math. My favorite student quote from the end of last year was, “Math isn’t just doing worksheets. It’s knowing how and why math works and having fun with it.”

    I love the books Tracy suggested and bought them for my 7 yo daughter. We read and shared what mathematicians do. Without a class of my own this past year and next, I’m working on growing a strong mathematician at home along with influencing the 100s of teachers in blessed to work with.

    • #4647 Reply

      Adrianne Burns

      I love the idea of starting day 1.  I have so many ideas floating around in my head after reading chapter 2.  I tried to start the year last year this way but did not come back to it often enough.  I want to have it be a more continual part of the language I use with students so if they are not convinced right away that they are mathematicians they make the connection later.  I think the students saw math as more than just computation but I don’t know if they saw themselves as mathematicians.

      If you have any suggestions I would gladly take them.

  • #4579 Reply

    Kathy Felt

    I have been teaching math for 13 years and I am happy to say that my teaching today is significantly different than it was when I started! I have moved the dial a lot from a direct teaching mode to a much more engaging, inquiry mode. Every year, I get a little bit closer to “becoming the math teacher I wish I had had!” But, there is so much more to do and so many ways I still want to improve! Last year, I used the first week to help my classes learn through inquiry and discussion using a Week of Inspirational Math from Dr. Jo Boaler’s website. This was a really good move as it did set the tone for the year.

    I plan to do that again this year, but I was really moved by the thoughts of this chapter and having a discussion similar to what occurred in this chapter. I teach 8th grade but I think the topic could be utilized at any grade level. (I also teach math methods at the university level and plan to do it there as well.) I love the thoughts and thinking that students share with questions like, “What is Math?” “What do mathematicians do?” “What does it mean to be good at math?” I think a lot of misconceptions, fear, and misunderstandings can be unearthed with these discussions and it would truly be worth the time. I can’t tell you how many 8th graders walk into my classroom saying they stink at math. How sad is this?! We will also explore mindset in math, and get students helping each other inquire, explore, notice, wonder, and learn. Yes, this takes time at the beginning of the year, but it is worth the time. When students start out the year right, with hope, excitement and wonder, good things are bound to happen!

  • #4587 Reply

    Barb Weidus

    As a math coach, I see teachers getting lost in procedure. For me the most powerful part of Chapter 2 is at the end. I love the idea of a Wonder Wall. It so values the things students are thinking about authentically. The last paragraph sums up what I typically see: “I do, we do, you do” approach in math. Getting teachers to transition to “letting go” and let students notice and wonder gets to what we are asking students to now do in math – look for depth and allow more rigor with what we ask students to do. “My students can’t” does not work any more. “My students are mathematicians” would be a much better mantra!! 🙂

  • #4588 Reply

    Christina Sherman

    As a Mathematics Consultant/Coach, I get the opportunity to support K-12 teachers.  I pop into classrooms often, I try to model for the teachers the importances of listening and not just telling… “the person talking is the person learning.”  My work with Cognitively Guided Instruction and John SanGiovanni’s Mining the Gap has helped me to listen and look carefully to understand what the students are bringing to the table.  My should’ve-would’ve-could’ve as a an old high school teacher was more small group instruction!  Too many of my students slipped through the gaps because of my whole group instruction.  I’m sure I had students yell out “this is easy” – as Tracy warned us about in Chapter 2!

    Tracy’s statement “In math, though, we generally just start ‘doing it,’ without talking about what ‘it’ really is” caught my attention (Zager, 2017, p. 15).  Why is this so true?  How can I help foster this conversation with those with whom I work?  How can I help support teachers understand the importance of the why behind our subject, not just the procedures?  Dan Meyer’s Math Class Needs a Makeover helped me shift my thinking… where was he was I was just starting my teaching career 23 years ago???

  • #4591 Reply

    Catherine Schulte

    In my current role as math coach/consultant, I work really hard at modeling “think time” before I ask for answers. I also believe in the idea of building a community of thinkers, getting away from the “this is easy” conversation that often shuts out individuals. I have done “math walks” before but that idea has fallen away in my practice and it started me thinking again, including the notice/wonder idea as students move about their environment.

    In a recent conversation with a principal (new to a building) and her vision for mathematics, we discussed math focus or word walls. I am going to suggest that she consider a “Wonder Wall” as she is planning for the upcoming school year.

  • #4592 Reply

    Jodie Bailey

    “Notice” and “wonder” were two important words in my classroom this year.  I found that using an example and then making lists of what students were noticing and wondering often led us to my teaching point – but the experience was so much more valuable!  Additional “wonders” could become extensions for students who quickly grasped the concept and wanted to explore further.  I like that making the “wonders” public honored the questions students had even if we didn’t have time to explore them all during class.

  • #4601 Reply

    Ann Elise Record

    It is quite an interesting experience reading all these wonderful comments. I, too, am a Math Coach in my 3rd year of a position that was new to our district.  I have felt pretty isolated since, until this year, there was no one in my district doing the same job as me.  And yet, as I read all your comments, I feel like I could have written most of them.  Our experiences are so parallel it is eery!  I have spent 3 years helping to change teachers’, students’, parents’, and paraeducators’ mindsets about mathematics and their own ability to be able to learn math in ways that make sense.  I’m a huge follower of Jo Boaler’s work with her emphasis on disassociating speed from being good at math, mistakes are part of the learning process, and our brains have plasticity so we are all able to learn new things and change our brains.    I have encouraged Number Talks, Splat activities, 3 Act Tasks, and the Week of Inspirational Math activities but because of pressure of data and adherence to our math curriculum (Engage NY) which many of our students aren’t ready for at the grade they are expected to enter, many teachers have said to me while they love these routines, there just isn’t time in the day to get to it all.   Since their evaluations are based in part on students’ performance on standardized tests, I find this such a shame since we seem to be turning out students who can answer questions correctly, but we haven’t provided them the foundation of conceptual understanding that will get them through tomorrow. I’m passionate about spreading the word to all my staff as well as the preservice teachers I teach at the local college.  I will be asking all my preservice teachers  to purchase Tracy’s book as part of their class books because I believe so strongly that we need to cultivate a new generation of teachers who can help change the math journey of our future generations.

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