Thursday, February 15, 2018

Math Talk Progressions: Making Distributed Practice Meaningful

'Tis the season for anxiety around upcoming standardized tests. Woof.

Many of us feel that there is so much content over the course of a year that we may not have time to even get to every topic, let alone revisit it to practice or reinforce skills along the way.

Something I am noticing this year is that we, the adult math teachers, spend a lot of time thinking about scope and sequence and, if we are lucky, having vertical conversations to make sure the flow of our units and the big mathematical ideas makes sense over the course of our students' careers with us. But when do these messages get shared with our students? When do they get the opportunity to see the beauty of mathematics and how the big ideas evolve and connect?

NCTM's definition of procedural fluency points out an important truth:

Being in love with math and number talks as I am, I see a solid opportunity to merge some of the ideas I have been thinking about to build meaningful distributed practice. I wrote about my own progression of using math talks last April. As I have gone through this school year thinking about students' understanding of big ideas with teachers, purposeful series of math talks seem to be the answer to a lot of the areas students struggle to make sense of.

I think that sharing that overarching beauty of the big ideas would help them retain and connect and, therefore, remember the processes and procedures, too.  We can't accomplish this through isolated experiences.

Math Talk Progressions (#MathTalkProgs? Yes. Let's do this.) are series of related math talks that build toward an idea, representation, strategy, or understanding that we want students to take away. Inspiration can come from current learning topics, areas students are struggling with (i.e. fraction sense or place value), or just some fun topic you wouldn't otherwise make space for.

The Progression is meant to take place over the course of several days, and the goal is to illuminate patterns,

I designed this planning template, which has been helpful when first starting out designing these and still serves as a structured brainstorming place as I anticipate student moves and my questions.

Now, we have transitioned into jumping onto slides pretty quickly during the design phase of writing these. You can find some on my Math Talk Progressions page. I will continue to add as more are developed, and would love for you to contribute, too!

What other ways are you incorporating meaningful practice into your classes over time?

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