Book Study – Mathematical Mindsets Chapter 3

I’m super late to the party…  Sorry!  I read the chapter last week, but then…  School started this week AND I had an online/video book discussion for ANOTHER book study I’m doing with another group to prepare for AND, well…you know how it is.

But, here I am!  I am ready to chat about the next chapter of this book that I am LOVING every word of it.

This chapter delineates the way math is traditionally taught in classrooms versus how math should be taught.  Mathematics instruction should consist of open-ended, real word applications and problems and center around relationships, connections, and patterns.

My Big Takeaway
By stripping math of creativity and reasoning and distilling it down to procedures that must be learned, we are denying our students the chances they need to wrap their heads around thinking that will help them truly understand how numbers (and the world) work.

My Three Favorite Quotes…
(and what I plan to do about them now that school has started)

Most students (at least those I’ve run across) believe that the “good math kids” are those who can write numbers and calculations quickly and be done the fastest.  Shifting our thinking to value those who try and then spin it and then flip it around and then try it another way will be huge…and will open up math success for so many more students.

Not only am I incorporating many activities and lessons that promote Ability Awareness and Growth Mindset along with our beginning of the year activities, I am using Jo Boaler’s Week of Inspirational Math.  You can find it at  (I’m hoping to dig further into this website, but for now this is as far as I’ve gotten.)

So far, we’ve worked through the lessons for Day #1 and Day #2.  I don’t think the kids think they’re really doing math.  It was easy to see in today’s lesson, which was all about visual patterns, that many are just not used to thinking deeply and creatively about numbers.  The patterns that they found were things like “it counts by ones” or “it goes even, odd, even, odd”.  When really pressed, they could dig a little bit deeper, but it was clear they just didn’t understand how else to think about the numbers given.

My classroom is all about voice and choice.  I’m excited to show my students that there is SO MUCH MORE to math (and learning math) than memorizing facts and procedures.  Rather than simply giving my students choice of which mostly one-answer-is-the-right-answer or one-solution-strategy-is-the-only-solution-strategy activity they do off a menu, I want to change the entire script.  I want them to truly work with mathematical concepts and ideas.

That sounds so amazing!  Doesn’t it?  But…  I don’t really know how I’m going to do it just yet.  I honestly don’t.  If school hadn’t started this week and I didn’t have life to deal with at the same time, I probably would’ve finished reading this book and tried to figure it out.  Soon, soon…  I keep telling myself.

I have three more days of plans from the Week of Inspirational Math and what my math time looks like after that?  I can’t wait to read more and figure it out.

After my visit to Ron Clark Academy last year, I was inspired to start my math block with a “Big Problem”.  It was huge and hairy and had MANY steps.  The kids had a bit of time to puzzle through it on their own and then work with a group to figure it out.  At the beginning, a couple of kids solved it on their own and they were all a bit shell-shocked.  After about a week, most of them were solving it on their own and creating and solving their own problems that fit the model.  It was great.  However, I ran out of big problems after a little while and the momentum wore off.

I’m excited to learn more about the types of problems I should be providing my students.  I’m excited to open up a world of math for them that they may never have seen.

Final Thoughts
I think that I truly understand the direction in which I need to travel.  I just don’t know exactly what I need to pack or the best route to get to my destination.  I can’t wait to read more and get some answers.

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