Mathematical Mindsets: Chpt. 7

We are winding down with just three more chapters left in Jo Boaler's, Mathematical Mindsets. This week the focus is on tracking to growth mindset grouping. Boaler emphasizes the need to de-track students and group heterogeneously. I know this has been an ongoing debate in some elementary classrooms.

I do not value speed or people racing through math; I value people showing how they think about math, and I like creative representations. ~Jo Boaler (135)

Key Takeaway: The repetitive theme throughout Boaler's book is to move beyond the one-dimensional math class where the practice of executing procedures correctly is valued above others (121). Transforming classrooms into multidimensional classrooms where good questions are asked, ideas are proposed, different methods are explored and connected, multiple representations are encouraged, and reasoning is encouraged through different pathways is a goal to strive for. Dream big!
Classroom Connections:
  • When students are grouped heterogeneously, there are different ways to encourage students to look at a problem. These include asking good questions, rephrasing problems explaining, using logic, justifying methods, using manipulatives, connecting ideas, and helping others (122). In this way, there are multiple entry points to a problem for students of different readiness levels. At the start of the year, it would be interesting to ask students how they can approach/look at a problem and record their responses. Then as the year progresses, we can add to that list. Hmm...definitely something to think about.
  • When students are working collaboratively, the role of the teacher is the facilitator. I really liked the idea of how groups were assigned roles such as a reporter. If the teacher needs to share something new to move the task along rather than stop the whole class, the teacher can call the reporters from each group over for a huddle. Love the idea of a "huddle." Once the information is shared with the reporters, they go back to their respective groups and convey the necessary information. Sometimes trying to get everyone's attention when they are immersed in a task to stop can be challenging. I will be adding this idea to my toolbox.
  • Feedback is essential for student learning, especially for those who may not find confidence in the subject. Boaler recommends that feedback to raise the status of those who may not feel like they are as "good" as others in their group needs to be public, intellectual, specific, and relevant (135).
    • public dimension: highlights that a specific student contributed the idea
    • intellectual dimension: addresses the aspect of the mathematical work the student offered
    • specific dimension: showcases exactly what the teacher is praising
Math really is a social subject where students can bring their independent understandings to help accomplish a group goal.

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