Math Sense: Chapters 1 and 2 - Math Coach's Corner

Welcome to our book study! The book I’ve chosen this time around is Math Sense: The Look, Sound, and Feel of Effective Math Instruction, by Christine Moynihan. I know many of us are in back-to-school mode, and this is a wonderful book to read as you plan your mathematics classroom. I hope this will be a very collaborative book study, with lots of great comments and discussion.

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Here’s the reading schedule (use the links to visit any of the posts):

Chapter 1, What is Mathematics?

The book starts out with what seems like a simple question…what is mathematics? Which of the comments in the first paragraph did you most connect with? While I did a lot of head bobbing on all of them, for me it was this quote:

“Further, you likely believe that teaching mathematics makes a difference in how your students view mathematics and how they view themselves as mathematical learners.”

Let’s face it, math gets a bad rap. It’s socially acceptable to be “bad at math”. Parents too often tell their children, “Don’t worry, I was bad at math, too.” I think it’s so critically important that we work to overcome that stigma. Math is fun! Especially elementary math. It is a wondrous puzzle waiting to be solved, and who doesn’t like puzzles?

Be sure to add a comment discussing your thoughts on the question!

Chapter 2, The Look of the Landscape

This chapter introduces us to the format of the rest of the book. Each chapter describes components of effective math instruction–how it looks (Chapter 2-4), feels (Chapter 5), and sounds (Chapter 6). For each component, the author tells what it is, why it’s important, and where or when you might encounter it. Finally, there is a ‘magnification’ of the component–a glimpse into the classroom where you will see student work and hear student voices. It’s a great organization and a very engaging read.

Go into a person’s house, and you immediately see clues about what the people living in the house value. You might see pictures of family members and pets, a large flat-screen TV, high-quality pots and pans, or books scattered around. And all of those items would be a window into what that family values.  The same goes for your classroom! If a visitor enters your room, what do they see that tells them you value math?

The chapter contains ten elements that the author says “convey the high regard mathematics occupies and its meaningful role in your classroom.” The list includes tools that should be present (number lines, hundred chart, manipulatives, daily schedule), classroom arrangement considerations (designated mathematics areas, multiple instructional settings), and instructional strategies (mathematics word wall, mathematics literature collection, technology).  The final component is one that I feel is often underutilized–student work samples. A long list of authentic examples of work samples is provided, but I really like the explanation of why displaying student work samples is important. Here’s the list of reasons from the book:

The purposes of posted student work are

  • to make a clear statement about the importance of their work in mathematics,
  • to serve as a source of pride for students in their completed work,
  • to demonstrate multiple solutions to the same problem and sometimes even multiple correct solutions,
  • to provide a model for other students in mathematical communication, representation, and reasoning.

So my challenge this new school year will be to engage my teachers in conversations about the importance of student work samples and to work closely with them to ensure our mathematicians’ work is proudly displayed.

What about you? What did you read from this chapter that’s going to bring about a change in your classroom this year?  Please share! 🙂

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