As a student, I received good grades and loved following all the procedures. As a teacher and coach, I wanted all students to be successful: the students needed to be able to understand, not just follow the procedures. There are only a small percentage of us that only follow rules and are successful.
I have been inspired by some presentations that I have watched on the internet by Phil Daro, a writer for the Common Core. Phil Daro talks about the tendency we have as American teachers to teach “answer-getting techniques” instead of teaching the math.
In contrast to American teachers, Daro discusses how Japanese teachers focus on the mathematics. So what does it look like to focus on the mathematics?
My Piece of the Puzzle
One piece of the puzzle is asking the right questions. As a writer, one of my goals is to create lessons that integrate good questions throughout the lesson in order to build connections. Often we wait until the end of the lesson to have a discussion, but I feel that it is in the small discussions during the lesson that help students build understanding. The questions need to be connected to the mathematics, not the answer. My experience has shown me that we all know that good questions are important, but we are teaching at a sprint and some things just get missed.
Your Piece of the Puzzle
Here is a link to a lesson, Willie The Wheel Man, I helped write that integrates questions throughout the lesson. The questions help students process the connection between the three different ways they can represent the mathematics.
Did the questions foster the mathematical practices? Deeper understanding?
How do you focus on the mathematics instead of just teaching “answer-getting” techniques?