Saturday, June 25, 2005

Math instruction and differentiation

I was recently reading an article by Marilyn Burns on teaching for understanding in math. You can catch lots of useful articles and ideas on the Eisenshower National Clearinghouse site. Her emphasis on teaching for understanding instead of just memorizing skills and facts was reinforced by an example of learning stations found on pp. 62-65 of Carol Ann Tomlinson's book. The 4th grade example has stations that include:

Teacher Direct Instruction where the teacher gives min-lessons to small groups.

Proof Place where students use manipulatives and drawn examples to explain their answers.

Practice Plaza where students practice difficult concepts and reflect on their work.

The Shop where students apply math concepts to help Mr. Fuddle run his store or shop for items.

Project Place where students use math and connect it to a larger world that includes topics of high student interest.


There is a lot more detail provided in the book as to the specifics of organizing these stations. I'll just emphasize that these stations not only provide lots of opportunities for giving students work at their readiness level, but they present math problems in a variety of contexts which truly builds understading.

6 comments:

Junie B. said...

Marilyn Burns makes a great comparison between reading and math in her article at the Eisenhower site. She states, "no one finds it acceptable if a child can pronounce words but doesn't understand the material...yet, if math facts are memorized, children are viewed as proficient." Maybe there needs to be more of an emphasis on mathematical reasoning/word problems so that we can see how students are applying math concepts. The stations mentioned in the Tomlinson book could easily be extended from the classroom to a Family Math Night so that parents could see how math understanding is more than computation. It would also be great for the students/parents to see math literature linked to the stations. M. Burns gives a great new list in another one of her articles. Maybe a Math Challenge for the 05-06 year would be fun too?!?!

danw said...

Welcome Junie B.

I like your thinking. I can definitely see those stations as part of our Family Math Night and math literature would be a great addition (no pun intended). The Math Challenge idea surfaced last spring. That also has promise. Keep those great ideas coming.

mama-mia said...

Suzanne McGrath, who used to be an upper grade teacher in the district, has worked with and published for Marilyn Burns. She still gives inservice for the upper grade teachers in the district. She is very knowledgeable about math and presenting the material to students.

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