Thinking (a LOT) about Math

2016-12-15-plc-opening-discussionMy brain is full, full, full with math talk and math thinking (so don’t be expecting anything intelligent from me in next few hours! LOL!).  I’ve just spent two days in a virtual math-world.  The first, with secondary teachers in our school board and then today on many math websites and 1 great math webinar . And after days of high school math talk, I’m thinking a lot about a lot of things!  In fact, my “I Wonder…” question board is full of thoughts about math learning in Ontario, math learning in 2016 and about math learning in secondary classrooms.

Running through my mind, and most prevalent are the questions about the student experience in our classrooms and the mindset they bring to their math learning. I wonder how much they believe in themselves as math learners.  I wonder if they believe “I can do this…” and see their own strengths, their abilities?  Then I wonder if they know that we believe in them (because we do!), that we think about their strengths and needs (because we do!) and that we want the best for them – both today AND in their future!

These are big questions and the issue is huge – in fact, many KPDSB educators (and teachers around the world!) have read “Mathematical Mindsets” by Jo Boaler to learn more about this very issue.  Her observations and research-to-the-nth-degree show that mindset is key to math learning.  Throughout the book, she explores the connections between mathematical mindset and its connections with making mistakes in math.  She’s looked at mistakes in real-life (kids don’t mind making them) and how children view mistakes (no big deal earlier in life).  I’m thinking about the way I taught math and how I did/didn’t think about mathematical mindset and math mistakes.  I’m also thinking about my son’s experiences with math (he’s done his Grade 9 credit, will do his Grade 10 next semester)and what his mindset is toward math learning.  In these close-to-home-ponderings, I’m also wondering about Ontario’s Renewed Math Strategy and how a whole system (the whole province, in fact!) will be addressing mindset and mistakes in math learning.

So, like I said I’ve got lots on my mind after this day of math learning.  I’m glad my colleague shared this video by Dan Meyer (I’ve just subscribed to his blog – which is fabulous!), because it’s left me thinking about solutions and pathways rather than barriers and obstacles.  What endless opportunities we have to make math enjoyable and “learn-able” for our students!  I’m glad to be a part of the work and feel lucky to be joining educators across Ontario in doing it.  If you have a minute, check out the video; if you’re pressed for time, put it on in the background.  It’s worth a listen!

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