Earlier today, I had the opportunity to deliver a workshop on the Standards for Mathematical Practice (SMP) to a room of OST staff. The workshop was designed to:
- Help them develop a basic understanding of the SMP,
- Familiarize them with the language used in the SMP,
- Discuss strategies for coaching their staff on the SMP.
After reviewing the workshop’s Agenda and introducing the Learning Goals, I presented them with a picture of a house and asked them, “What do we need to build a house?” Before moving to the next slide, I had the participants share their ideas of what was needed to build a house. I wrote their responses on the board and together we drew arrows between each idea, creating a sequence of events. Then, we moved through the next eight slides, comparing the information on the slides with the ideas that they shared. The order of the slides paralleled the SMP to provide the context for comparing the different steps of building a house with the SMP. I did this so that the participants focused on the process of building a house as a prelude to focusing on the process of solving problems. The emphasis here is on the process of solving than on the product of solving (i.e. the answer). Ultimately, I wanted the staff to witness the learning opportunities that could take place when the teacher focused more on the process of solving problems than on the product (i.e. the answer). I concluded this series of slides with a question that required the participants to consider what building a house has to do with mathematics. I used a general question to allow for greater discussion.
We transitioned to TED Talks video presented by Dan Meyer, in which he discussed the need to rethink how we engage students in mathematics. This led us into an introduction to the SMP. Two slides are provided for each SMP. On the first slide, the SMP is listed with a few bulleted focus items to consider when addressing the SMP. On the second slide, I provided two to three strategies to utilize when addressing the SMP. Instead of reading aloud the information on each slide for the participants, I engaged them in a discussion of what the SMP means to them and how they could address it in the classroom. We used the information provided on the slides to validate their ideas and consider alternatives.
Then, we explored three different problems that are samples provided by the SBAC. Two of the problems provided are third grade level problems and one of the problems is a sixth grade level problem. As we approached each problem, I modeled for the participants how their staff should be guiding their students’ thinking. Instead of disseminating information, I engaged the participants in:
- Thinking about the problem on their own and writing down their ideas
- Discussing the problem and their ideas with their partner
- Conceptualizing the problem using different visual models
- Sharing their solution and their reasoning with the rest of the class
- Ask questions and critiquing the reasoning of others
- Defending their solutions based on evidence provided in the problem
Finally, we concluded the workshop by brainstorming strategies for introducing the SMP to their staff and coaching them on addressing the SMP in their classrooms.