“A great question for any teacher… is where to begin.” I remember David Coleman, one of the lead authors of the Common Core State Standards, saying this at a speech before educators in 2012. I find myself asking this same question as I prepare to teach math next academic year—especially those first few critical days of school in which I am trying to establish routines and procedures while simultaneously introducing content. Through serendipitous luck, or just smart enough to hang out with some really strong teachers**, I learned about Jo Boaler and her website www.youcubed.org.
Dr. Boaler helpfully outlines tasks for the first five days of math instruction that address the Common Core, the mathematical practices, growth mindset, persistence, and are highly differentiated because they are “low floor and high ceiling.” Each comes with the requisite materials (free), demonstration videos, and annotations so you know that what you are implementing is grounded in evidence. The table below describes what the first five days can look like.
|Day 1||Inquiry task, the four 4’s.||Number operations||MP1: Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them. MP6: Attend to Precision.|
|Day 2||Looking at numbers to “see” factors and multiples||Factors, multiples, prime numbers, number relationships, algebraic expressions and equations||MP7: Look for and make use of structure. MP8: Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning|
|Day 3||Paper folding task||Area, fractions, triangles, squares, and estimation||MP3: Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others and MP4 Model with mathematics|
|Day 4||World’s most famous triangle||Patterns in number, triangular numbers, addition, powers||MP1: Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them. MP7: Look for and make use of strcutre. MP8: Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning|
|Day 5||Seeing Shapes||Algebraic thinking, generalization, forming an algebraic expression, algebraic equivalence||MP1: Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them MP2: Reason abstractly and quantitatively MP7: Look for and make use of structure|
Dr. Boaler is a proponent of the Common Core and she outlines why through the video linked here. Moreover, she explains how practitioners can create a classroom where students have a “learning orientation towards math” and away from a “performance subject.” The video is worth a watch especially if you are struggling with ideas about how to make math more engaging for students.
**Thank you to Katie Penney and Janelle Turnier for introducing me to Jo Boaler and her website YouCubed.