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Looking At Quality Problems to Understand CCSS
As schools struggle to make sense of the new Common Core Standards in Mathematics they are often left overwhelmed and highly anxious. Change is hard for most everyone. How does one balance the classroom, dealing with management and current standards while trying to learn the new expectations brought on by CCSS?
Many of my recent blog posts all center around this one issue. There are many ways to get at understanding the standards and what may work for one teacher may not have any impact on another teacher. Sounds familiar. The process described below takes a look at several high quality tasks and asks teachers to look specifically how by solving these problems students will have to use higher-level thinking and thus address the intent of the 8 mathematical practices from CCSS.
Step # 1 – Provide a high-quality task for the grade band that you are working with. Keep in mind, it should be high quality and it should also push the teachers’ knowledge level. In the example I provided, we are going to look at a Problem-Solving Task from Illuminations http://illuminations.nctm.org a project from our National Council of Teachers of Mathematics – Painting the Clubhouse. Teachers solve questions 1-4 and then groups/partners should share out their results and the facilitator should ask questions to get at the “making sense” of the problem.
Step # 2 – Continue with this lesson. Stop at appropriate places and share out different strategies, different ways of thinking about the problem, discussing different viewpoints and ideas.
Step # 3 - After the problem has been exhausted, discuss the characteristics that made this a high-quality task. Each group should brainstorm and be ready to popcorn their ideas onto a whole group chart.
Step # 4 – Ask groups to discuss and be ready to share out their thinking.
“How might the 8 Mathematical Practices be addressed through this sort of problem?”
“Does a rich high-quality problem ensure the 8 Mathematical Practices are being addressed?”
“What does a teacher need to be cognizant of when using these rich problems?”
“Where might we find more rich problems?”
“How do we support teachers as they start incorporating these types of problems in their classroom?”