"To facilitate a healthy discussion where students learn from each others’ perspectives and build on understanding, they have to be able to see each others’ thinking"
Are you looking for ways to engage your students in math? Creating a student-centred classroom is the key to not only engaging but empowering every student to lead their own learning in math class. In my classroom, I have found that putting my students’ thinking at the centre of my instruction has helped the members of our community deeply understand math.
What are student-centred teaching practices? They’re instructional and planning moves that allow the thinking that students are doing to drive the learning. For example, I use math tasks that promote productivity, struggle, and discussion to create an equitable classroom community of math learners. In this blog post, I will share with you three ways you can start simply by meeting students’ needs and building on their assets.
Building a classroom community is essential to building a student centred math class. Creating a safe place for students to do math is very important. Students won’t take risks, work through challenges, and collaborate without the safety and belonging a classroom community ensures. I use math norms to help my students see that doing math in our class is not about speed and correct answers but instead about thinking, questioning, and getting a bit better each day. I like to use the reusable and eco-friendly Wipebook Flipcharts to allow my students to break down our math norms. They work collaboratively in groups to write what the norm will look like, sound like, and feel like.
Find the Right Math Task
When building a student centred math classroom the math tasks matter! However, a common mistake is thinking that these tasks have to be complex or are hard to find. We really just need to find the right math tasks for our students, one that promotes various strategies and solution pathways and allows students to make progress toward the standard. Math tasks like these provide students opportunities to grapple or productively struggle. While also giving students opportunities to develop deep understanding because they are reasoning in the context of a problem. You can find appropriate math tasks right inside your curriculum or follow simple structures to write your own.
Math discussions are a primary method to help students develop math understanding in a student-centred math class. To facilitate a healthy discussion where students learn from each others’ perspectives and build on understanding, they have to be able to see each others’ thinking. This is the perfect place to use Wipebook Flipcharts. Students can represent their thinking on the Flipchart and it is large enough for the entire group to see. Then, students can refer back to the strategies and solutions of others while they discuss the math concepts. This type of math discussion helps students think about “the why” behind the operations and develop a conceptual understanding. You’ll see that students can easily refer directly to the work as evidence to support their claims in the discussion. When we make students’ thinking visible it can then serve as the driver of the math discussion, ensuring the discussion is student-centred.
If you’re looking for more ways to develop math discussions and interested in learning how to be the guide on the side to our students’ learning journey be sure to listen to the Honest Math Chat podcast for new episodes each Monday!
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