Instructional Shift 2: Adapt what we know works in our reading programs and apply it to mathematics instruction.

Chapter 3: It's Not Hard to Figure Out Why Reading Works Better Than Math

What should we see in an effective mathematics classroom?

-Consistent parallels are apparent between the types of questions that require inferential and evaluative comprehension in reading instruction and the probing for ways in which the answers were found, alternative approaches, and reasonableness in mathematics instruction.

-All numerical and one-word answers are consistently greeted with a request for justification.

  • As a department, generate a list of justification questions that follow a student's initial, verbal, numerical or one-word answers. Add questions that will push students thinking to engage in higher levels of thinking and discourse. Publish the list for all teachers to use. Make it available for students to use as a model during class discussions. Here are a few to start with:
    • Why?
    • How did you get that?
    • Who has a different way?
    • What do others think?
    • Is that reasonable?

-Only reasonable homework assignments are given, and when homework is reviewed, the focus is on explanations and understanding, not on checking for right answers.

  • Lead a department/team discussion that focuses on create ways to select, assign, and check (discuss) homework items. Develop some common agreements across the department/team about how you will conduct the business of assigning reasonable homework assignments that focus beyond right answers and enhance student discourse and deepened understanding.