I received the second of my two journals. This one is Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School (a name that the NCTM is looking to change), and as I predicted, this had much more that was relevant to my classes. In fact, I don’t think there is one thing in this issue that I couldn’t use in my classroom. So I’ll just hit the highlights.
I-THINK I Can Problem Solve, by Sararose D. Lynch, Jeremey M. Lynch, and Johnna Bolyard explains a method to scaffold student discussion and to encourage metacognition. It compares this method to Think-Pair-Share (a technique that I realized, upon reading this article, I’ve been doing wrong all this time. Facepalm.). I-THINK stands for:
I – Individually think about the problem
T – Talk about the problem
H – How can it be solved?
I – Identify a strategy to solve the problem
N – Notice how your strategy helped you solve the problem (I love this step! Thinking about what you just did rather than rushing on to the next problem)
K – Keep thinking about the problem. Does it make sense? Is there another way to solve it?
The authors also discuss how to implement this method, which I really appreciate. It suggests starting with a classroom discussion on “Thinking about Thinking” and then moving on to a problem with no one solution. Using this to introduce I-THINK and using visual aids and graphic organizers to reinforce the framework is recommended. They also gave a rubric for scoring student work. Even the authors said they only do a I-THINK lesson once per week.
Develop Reasoning through Pictorial Representations by Wendy P. Ruchti and Cory A. Bennett is another way to, as the article put it, “illustrate students’ understandings or misunderstandings.” This reminded me of Twice as Less in that it provides a window in to the through processes of the students. And again, it gets the students thinking about thinking, so that they can analyze their own thought processes. The authors point out that this method is invaluable in teaching fractions, as it lets teachers know the flaws in student reasoning, and it gives the students a method for checking their own work.
There’s another article about building vocabulary through graphic organizers, but since it goes over the same ground as the article in Mathematics Teacher I won’t go in to it here. There are a couple of projects and a nice open-ended discussion activity, plus a “palette of problems” that could be used as openers. Lots to use!