Our students fight an uphill battle from day one. The school is nestled within lower-income housing where families often share a 1-2 bedroom apartment with another, or multiple families. The majority of families speak English as a second language, if they even speak it at all. In addition to the challenges associated with living below the poverty line, our immigrant families now live in fear because of the current political climate.
In spite of these challenges, the students persevere.
They are eager to learn, and are some of the greatest people I have ever met. Their determination fuels our teachers to engage these students in new and novel ways. Because we know they are worth it.
Growth Mindset has been a wave many educators have been riding for a number of years now. The work of Carol Dweck has helped shape how educators and students approach learning in the recent years; embracing mistakes as a part of learning and progressing as a result. Imagine my surprise when I was told by one of her colleagues at Stanford I was doing it all wrong.
But, in Growth Mindset fashion, it's never too late for an old math teacher to learn from his mistakes.
After attending a conference at Stanford University, I've learned I was perpetuating the same ineffective math instruction I was raised on. Even with our district adopted 'Common Core aligned' curriculum, I realized it was the same traditional work repackaged as something new. Thankfully, the conference provided a number of lessons to help build true math literacy in our school.
I need enough dice and cuisenaire rods for small pairs or trios to manipulate during mindset-oriented math lessons. The dice are used for several open-ended lessons as 'number generators,' and the cuisenaire rods are manipulatives to show part to whole relationships that students can physically manipulate to build and reinforce adding and subtracting concepts.
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