Miscellaneous Resources from 5280 Math
Over years of collaborating with teachers to meet needs of talented math students, I have developed a sense of some of the questions, doubts, and concerns that commonly arise. This note comes from the introduction to my book Advanced Common Core Math Explorations: Ratios, Proportions, and Similarity. It is written specifically for teachers whose students will be using the activities in the book, but most of the discussion applies in more general situations. I hope that you will find it encouraging and helpful.
Helping students learn to think about math in new ways takes time, because they, like many of us, have developed the habit of viewing math as memorizing and practicing procedures—without always understanding them. For talented students, there is the additional issue that math has often been easy for them, and they are not accustomed to struggling. In order to prepare students for the transition to more meaningful challenge, I have written them a note in the introduction to my Advanced Common Core Math Explorations books. Teachers often find it helpful to share this note with students before offering math tasks that are more—and differently—demanding than what they are used to. Most students will not understand all of the note right away. Some teachers send it home with students to discuss with their parents. Then they follow up with a class discussion. I even know of one teacher who used the note as the basis of a Socratic Seminar with his class. In any case, the note can set the stage for success when you are asking students to engage with math in new ways.
Eight Motivation Strategies for talented math students
Do you know talented math students who:
- give up when they are unable to solve a math problem quickly?
- fall apart when they get stuck on a problem?
- care mostly about finishing their math tasks as quickly as possible?
- like to "show off" their speed and accuracy during math discussions?
- underperform in order to avoid challenging math tasks or classes?
- say they know the answer but don't know how they got it?
The fact that these behaviors are so common among talented math students might make you wonder if it has something to do with our approach (as a culture) to math and to teaching! The Eight Motivation Strategies are practical steps that I have found helpful in turning around some of the habits and misconceptions that inhibit students from reaching their full mathematical potential.
Assessment tool for concept-oriented math activities and projects
Best practices in both math and gifted education point to the need for developing students' abilities to reason, solve problems, communicate, think and work both flexibly and with precision, and make connections between big ideas. If we are to move students toward these goals, many of which we rarely measure, we need to find a way to incorporate them into our assessment of students. I have used various versions of this assessment tool successfully with students for a number of years. Students need time and help to understand the criteria, but this is part of the process of helping them develop these capacities! To support this learning process, consider asking students to self-assess as well.