Teaching Student Centered Mathematics Book Study: Chapter 7

Chapter 7- Parent & Community Support

I was excited to read chapter 7 because the content was so immediately relatable. I think we have all been in a conversation with someone who is unsure about "Common Core Math". This chapter outlines proactive and effective ways to speak with family and community members proactively about the benefits of teaching using a student centered method.

Proactive communication to families could come in the form of a family math night, newsletter, videos, a website or other methods of open communication. Get out there and explain the standards you are teaching, how and why you are teaching them. New curriculum or methods can be scary to families and you want to have lines of positive open communication open so that families have a thorough understanding of changes rather than drawing negative conclusions out of fear themselves.

My favorite idea from the text was to present families with versions of a task and compare an contrast the benefits and drawbacks of each. For example, give a list of 4-5 basic addition problems with sums to 10. Next, give parents a problem based task such as "A vase has 7 flowers. Some are red and some are blue. How many red and blue flowers could there be?". Ask parents to discuss and reflect on the skills being developed in each task, which task allows for real world connections and which task is more motivating to the child to solve. I loved the idea of talking about using a problem solving based approach because it supports eventual mastery. 

When in a situation where a more reactive approach is needed to a parent or community member who may be unsure about a new curriculum or method of math instruction, the text talks about discussing the fact that the traditional methods of teaching math in our country were ineffective! The text pointed out that our students are average at a 4th grade level as compared to other countries, however, after that point, we fall behind much of the rest of the world. Our students fall behind beginning in 5th grade?! So when a parent says "Why aren't they teaching kids the way they used to any more? I learned the old way and I turned out just fine." A response indicating that, on the whole, our country is NOT turning out "just fine" would be appropriate. Worded in a kind and balanced way, of course :)

If you haven't grabbed a copy of this text, I would HIGHLY recommend it. Each chapter is so dense with information that I am only barely touching the tip of the iceberg in my reflections. I have learned so much that I will be able to implement into my practice next fall!

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