Monday, August 30, 2010

Common Core Standards - Mathematical Practices

For those of your following the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for mathematics - there is an emphasis on the ways in which students demonstrate their understanding and learning of mathematics each day. Referenced in the document as "Standards for [Student] Mathematical Practice (or SMP's) there are 8 specific SMP's for teachers to embrace as students experience the mathematics Teaching and Learning in a very action oriented and engaged environment...

Although there is some room in the lesson design for teacher modeling of skills and understanding, the SMP does call for and require teachers to plan for continuous and on-going student demonstrations of knowledge and understanding - through conjectures, communication with other students, explanations, reasoning and sense-making. Procedural fluency is not and will not be sufficient any longer. In fact, it is the hope of the CCSS that through teaching for understanding - procedural fluency will be enhanced.

To learn more about the details of the CCSS SMP's you can click here and download a pdf of the 8 mathematical practices. As you begin to think about how to implement these student practices into your daily planning remember that:

The 8 Standards for Mathematical Practice – place an emphasis on student demonstrations of learning…

“What we as teachers do, doesn’t matter nearly as much as how our students experience what we do”

Daily, we know what it is we do… the SMP's challenge us to think about: How do we know how the students experience it?

More insight on these practices in future blogs....

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Vision Casting Test

As the school year starts and you begin your start of the year vision and action work - for those of you leading PLC's - I was wondering how well those that choose to follow you can actually articulate and own the vision that you "See" for your area of school leadership.

Here’s a quick and informal test for how well you “cast a vision” that is actually caught, lived and owned by those you lead within your sphere of influence. Randomly select 6 - 8 adults in your school or area of school leadership that are within your sphere of influence. Give them 2 minutes to describe one or two “main things” that are part of the vision of your district, school, grade level, department, etc (use your specific area of leadership). Once they respond, ask them to state why they believe those one or two main things are so important.

Here are 5 Vision Casting questions for your reflection:

1) Did each adult easily identify the list of his or her “main things”? Was there a sense of clarity for them or did it take some effort to explain and describe?

2) Were the responses from each adult consistent and coherent? Or did you receive dissimilar and disconnected categories of answers from different adults?

3) Did the responses create a sense of energy and purpose to the work of each adult interviewed? Did they seem excited and passionate about their response?

4) Did each adult demonstrate a sense of ownership with the identified “main things”? Did you get the sense that the one or two “main things” they listed were something they were willing to commit their professional lives to each and every day? A vision that would fully engage them in their work?

5) Did each adult identify a list of “main things” that were in actual alignment to the overall vision of the school or program you lead?

How did your vision awareness test go? Did you have some “no” answers to the 5 questions listed? Did the reasoning behind the answers connect to the professional learning community purpose of improved student and adult learning and growth? Vision naturally leaks. Too many no answers could be a sign of increasing vision leakage in your area of school leadership.