Wondering about math resources? Think about these things...

There are so many resources available now. Figuring out what to use can become overwhelming.

Here's a little help in vetting resources from all over.


The most important questions to consider:

  • Do these resources actively develop the Standards for Mathematical Practice in students? Can you find evidence of the mathematical practices in the lessons/tasks?
  • Do these resources you are considering help develop teacher understanding, or merely provide a script? Remember, teachers can't recognize and correct misconceptions which they themselves hold .
  • Is the resource under consideration a long-term investment in teacher understanding or a short term investment which doesn't help teachers grow?
  • What conceptual understandings or mathematical misconceptions do the students bring to the table? How can you find out? Will these materials help you to find out?
  • What real-life situations might be used that would be relevant to the students? Do these resources require any real-life mathematizing/modeling?

Curriculum Review Rubric for use when evaluating a resource



Important points to consider:
  • Teachers can only teach what they themselves know and understand.
  • Teachers’ abilities to identify and deeply understand important mathematical concepts are critical if their students are to learn and to understand these concepts.
  • Teachers must provide opportunities for students to build on their existing knowledge. Teachers who understand the mathematics are in a position to think about their students’ understanding of the mathematics.
  • Interesting post:The Illusion of Discovery

Take-aways:

  • There are no short-cuts. Scripted resources, worksheet curricula, teaching by telling (whether human or computer teachers) are all short term solutions with long-term negative consequences. Check out this webinar- worth every minute: Coaching to assist teachers of students struggling in mathematics
  • Have a look at this 90 second video advising us to avoid "I do, we do, you do" instruction: How to Ruin Instruction
  • Lack of conceptual understanding prevents development of deep representational and abstract understanding in all levels of mathematics. Find out what students actually know by administering a diagnostic which provides a true picture of what students are thinking. The IKAN and GloSS from NZmaths are free, excellent, and have accompanying free instructional resources. There are many districts currently using the IKAN and GloSS to develop a clear picture of student understanding and student development along the numeracy trajectory of learning.
  • The most effective use of resources/time is an extended focus on the development of teacher content understanding and pedagogical content knowledge along with teacher support as they implement new practices and knowledge. Research on effective teacher professional learning More research
  • A scripted resource may further contribute to mathematical misconceptions and limited teacher understanding. Invest time and resources in development of deeper teacher understanding of the mathematics of the standards and support as teachers implement improved practices.
  • Excellent resources (highly recommended by districts) for teacher content-knowledge development include: Illustrative Mathematics, the Mathematics Progressions documents, the VandeWalle texts- "Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics", the Number Talks texts, and the Cognitively Guided Instruction texts, among others.
  • Allow a site-based coach/teacher leader/outside consultant to guide/facilitate teacher learning over the course of a year and beyond. While this may initially seem cost-prohibitive, it will pay off in the long run in teacher and student understanding and life-long achievement.
  • Teachers can learn a great deal from colleagues who are deepening their own understanding. A wealth of teacher and coach-authored blogs provide a glimpse into classrooms and schools where deep understanding is being developed. Suggestions: Under the Dome, Questioning My Metacognition, Elementary Teacher in Middle School, Brian Lack's blog, Exit 10-A, Traditionalist becoming Non-Traditional.

Please use the discussion area below to ask and answer questions and converse about approaches/curricula.