Mastery Not Memorization
Students will receive individualized/differentiated instruction in order to challenge them and deepen their understanding in mathematics. They will learn and master mathematical concepts with greater depth and understanding using multiple learning strategies: engage in hands-on experiences using concrete objects, draw pictorial representations of mathematical concepts, solve problems abstractly using numbers and symbols. Students will apply mathematics to problems arising in everyday life, society, and the workplace. These processes together with technology and other tools will develop conceptual understanding and solve meaningful problems. Some of the math concepts students will master include:
- Shapes, Attributes, Congruence, and Similarity
- Length, Area, Volume, and Coordinate Geometry
- Data and Statistics
- Working with Units Including Degrees
- Number Sense Base Ten
- Computation Base Ten
- Number Sense Fractions, Rational and Irrational
- Computation Fractions and Rational Numbers
- Problem Solving, Fractions and Ratios
- Equivalence and Properties
- Solving Problems, Equations, and Inequalities
- Graphs and Functions
To be sure our students are ready to meet the challenges of the 21st century, classroom teachers have to know how children develop an understanding of the core concepts of mathematics and the essential ideas that are milestones or hurdles in the growth of understanding. Kathy Richardson has identified these stages of learning as Critical Learning Phases™. It no longer makes sense for teachers to teach their students procedures for solving math problems without meaning and understanding.
Building meaning begins in Pre-K as teachers create a positive environment that supports the learning of mathematical ideas investigated through play, active participation, and intentional learning tasks. As students move into Kindergarten teachers utilize ‘Number Talks’ to help students acquire competence in computation using visual models and number relationships to build number sense and to develop numerically powerful strategies that make sense to students.
Teaching for understanding focuses on how to actively engage students in mathematics in ways that take them beyond procedures to deep understanding of basic math concepts. Attention is given to creating a learning environment that allows teachers to identify the instructional needs of individual children and to meet the range of needs in their classrooms.
Despite the adopted curriculum or assessments used, children do not all learn at the same pace. As a result, teachers need to determine what their students still need to learn or where to provide enrichment in order to provide optimal and appropriate experiences for them. Teachers use grade-level appropriate assessments to identify the instructional needs of their students. They will also learn to use the information gained from the assessments to focus their instruction and maximize student learning using various teaching strategies. Some practices include small group instructions, strategy groups, number talk, math talk, math workshop model, individualized stations, and ongoing assessments.