- Paperback: 104 pages
- Publisher: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (May 13, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1452202907
- ISBN-13: 978-1452202907
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.2 x 10.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 28 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,085,359 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Five Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions
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"5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions provides teachers with
concrete guidance for engaging students in discussions that make the mathematics in classroom
lessons transparent to all. These instructional practices are extremely timely in light of the focus
on Standards for Mathematical Practice in the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics,
and they will support teachers and students in engaging in these standards. This book will serve
as a valuable foundation in our upcoming professional development." (Catherine Martin, Mathematics and Science Director 2011-04-15)
"Ensuring that students have the opportunity to reason mathematically is one of the most difficult
challenges that teachers face. A key component is creating a classroom in which discourse is
encouraged and leads to better understanding. Productive discourse is not an accident, nor can
it be accomplished by a teacher working on the fly, hoping for a serendipitous student exchange
that contains meaningful mathematical ideas. While acknowledging that this type of teaching
is demanding, Smith and Stein present five practices that any teacher can use to implement
coherent mathematical conversations. By using the five practices, teachers will learn to teach
effectively in this way." (Frederick Dillon, Mathematics Teacher 2011-04-15)
"As a veteran teacher, I found that the book diagnosed several problems that I had unknowingly created for my students' classroom discussions. I now have a prescription for curing these problems." (Lori Lovato 2012-05-03)
"This book is a must-have for educators who are working toward having 'acountable talk.' I found it to be a welcome and thought-provoking addition to my professional library." (Maria Lamattina Teaching Children Mathematics Magazine, August 2012 2012-09-17)
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The Five Practices (Anticipating, Monitoring, Selecting, Sequencing, and Connecting) are intended to be used in lessons in which the students are working together in small groups to complete some mathematical task, and a class-wide discussion is expected to be the culminating event of the lesson. The Practices specifically identify the things that the teacher will be doing before the lesson (Anticipating), during the group work part (Monitoring, Selecting, and Sequencing), and during the discussion itself (Connecting).
The authors open with a vignette of a teacher conducting a math lesson which ends with a class discussion, one which will look familiar to any math teacher. When I first read it I remember thinking that the teacher had done a pretty good job, but the authors then describe their Five Practices and point out some ways the lesson fell short, and I began to realize that there were a lot of things the teacher could have done much better.
The authors then use the remaining vignettes to highlight specific things about each individual Practice, pointing out things that the individual teachers did well, how those things contributed to a productive discussion and increased mathematical understanding for their students, and how the reader can use the Five Practices in their own lessons.
The book also includes several useful "study guide" type questions, what the authors call "Active Engagement" tasks, in which they recommend that the reader, for example, make notes about certain things while reading thru a particular vignette. I was initially somewhat dismissive of these, as I have seen them in other books and don't generally find them all that helpful, but I found myself taking the authors up on these suggestions and it made the book an even more worthwhile read. At the end of the book, the authors include a "Professional Development Guide" with even more questions and suggestions for using the book to improve one's teaching skills. The book also includes references to many journal articles which ground the Five Practices in research.
The most valuable professional development activities I've been a part of have been the times I was able to sit in on another teacher's classroom and just observe what they did. One of the things I really liked about this book was that it created that sense of actually sitting in a classroom and observing these different teachers conduct their lessons, only with an expert guide sitting right next to me pointing out different things to look for and giving me a road map to help me understand exactly what things the teacher is doing and why they are so useful for creating good discussions.
If you are looking for a way to make your class discussions, and your student group work in general, more productive, I highly recommend this book.