Guided Math Book Study: Chapter 2

 I'm back to discuss chapter 2 of this fabulous book.  You can find my reflections on chapter 1 (HERE).

Chapter 2 begins with Sammons reflecting on the fact that as teachers we strive to create print-rich environments to help foster a love of literacy.  She challenges readers to consider doing the same for mathematics.  Since I moved into my school in January, I left things set up the way the previous teacher had them.  Now that it's the end of the year, I have already started rethinking my room set up.  One of the areas that I know I want to improve in is creating a numeracy-rich environment.  In the same way that I will thoughtfully plan out different areas for literacy, I am committed to doing the same for math.

Sammons then goes on to discuss the foundational principles of a guided math classroom:
  • All children can learn mathematics--create an environment where students recognize the relationship between effort and learning
  • A numeracy rich environment promotes mathematical learning by students--immerse students in a world of mathematics where they see math related materials throughout the classroom and participate in meaningful problem-solving opportunities, which will lead students to see the real world applications of math in their lives
  • Learning at its best is a social process--engage students in reflective dialogue and conversations
  • Learning mathematics is a constructive process--students need to learn, explore, and create
  • An organized classroom environment supports the learning process--organize materials, time, and procedures
  • Modeling and think alouds, combined with ample opportunities for guided and independent problem solving and purposeful conversations, create a learning environment in which students' mathematical understanding grows--modeling problem-solving and multiple approaches shows students that there isn't one correct way to solve a problem
  • Ultimately children are responsible for their learning--establish motivation and opportunity for students to learn
Next Sammons focuses on building a classroom learning community.  The key points that stuck out to me were that students can and are expected to engage mathematically.  Efforts need to be valued and supported and risk-taking and mistakes are part of the learning process.

The chapter concludes with discussions on classroom arrangement, organization, and creating a numeracy-rich environment.  Many of these topics will be discussed later in the book so I'll focus more on them later.
I think the most importation foundational principle is modeling and think alouds combined with problem solving and purposeful conversations to create a learning environment to foster mathematical understanding.  I feel that by doing this, we as educators can show students that they are mathematicians, that math is important to their daily lives, and that math is an opportunity to share both process and knowledge.
Unfortunately, I don't think that my kids were members of a mathematical learning community this year.  I think it was better than in years past, but as I took down my room, math wasn't everywhere.  I also did not hold my students accountable to be engaged mathematically at all times.  Areas that I need to strengthen are making math more visible in my classroom and connecting math to the real world.

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