Association of Teachers of Mathematics in Maine

Chapter 1 & 2 Discussion Prompt

01 Oct 2020 6:08 PM | Anonymous member

In chapter 2, there are 4 challenges associated with setting goals and selecting tasks.  What is a challenge you are facing with setting goals and selecting tasks.


  • Identifying Learning Goals

  • Identifying a doing-mathematics task

  • Ensuring alignment between tasks and goals

  • Launching a task to ensure student access.


Comments

  • 02 Oct 2020 2:48 PM | Chris Austin
    I am in a slightly different context as I am not teaching in a K-12 classroom right now, but I would say that out of these options I have always found "identifying a doing-mathematics task" to be the most challenging. Textbook problems are typically not at this level, and you can spend a while searching for something online that comes close without finding anything.

    Sometimes tasks can be adapted to become a "doing-mathematics" task, but then the first time (or first couple of times) using that task can go very different than anticipated as you get a sense of the degree to which students are interacting with the task in the way that you intended. Sometimes it's an unintentional feature of this newly created problem, sometimes the task is compromised by the launch or the "help" we give students along the way, and sometimes students are just still getting used to doing mathematics instead of applying procedures.
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  • 09 Oct 2020 8:03 AM | Jenny Jorgensen
    I am most challenged by ensuring that there is alignment between task and goals. It's been helpful to be clear about the learning goal(s) for a lesson. Making sure that the task that I plan for the lesson is aligned is sometimes a struggle. When I find a task that I think aligns, I spend time solving the task and thinking about possible strategies that my students might use when working on the task. This helps me think about the mathematics of the task and then I go back to the goal(s) to double check that the task will provide students with experiences needed to meet the learning goal.
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  • 11 Oct 2020 1:04 PM | Cindy Kelley
    I am very grateful that we have a math program that has children think critically about math problems and asks them to explain their thinking. We are asked to adhere to a pacing guide so having this program is helpful. I would say my biggest challenge would be identifying a doing-mathematics task. Even though the program I use has a task each day that the children start out with, I believe that I could adapt it to make it even more meaningful. These chapters got me thinking about how I could do more to introduce it and how my questioning could change to help the children present their solutions.
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    • 29 Oct 2020 5:27 PM | Heather Patterson
      Cindy, I have gotten much more comfortable with the solve and share and really try to highlight the different thought processes kids have by selecting a few each day to share on the projector. I too, have the challenge of "identifying a doing mathematics task. A goal for me would be to have a I a "respository" of these doing tasks !
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  • 12 Oct 2020 3:21 PM | Anonymous member
    I find the challenge of identifying the task is the one that stands out for me. In my role as a math coach I find it can seem like I am asking teachers to do more work. I often find that the tasks in our current program do not provide an opportunity for students to do the mathematics and/or the tasks are not open enough for all students to access it. I have a lot more experience with K-2, so supporting teachers with identifying tasks in 3-6 is more of a challenge for me.
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    • 20 Oct 2020 11:44 AM | Anonymous member
      Lisa, I completely agree with you. There are so many resources where we can find great tasks it can be overwhelming or I just can't find a task that really works with the goals I have for my learners and do not have time to create one. Our current program includes tasks but I do not feel like they are open enough either.
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  • 15 Oct 2020 8:33 AM | Anonymous member
    With using a specific math program in our district we are asked to follow a pacing guide and ensure that we are teaching each lesson in a unit. There are times that what is in the program is not aligned with the common core standards. I am finding myself having to modify the assessments that they give us in order to ensure that what they are being tested on aligns with the common core. Ensuring alignment between the tasks in the program and the goals we need to meet with common core can be a challenge.
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  • 17 Oct 2020 12:44 PM | Samantha Welch
    While reading I paused many times and thought about how fortunate I am that the math program my school district has adopted gives students many opportunities to think critically and explain their reasoning. Learning goals are specific for each lesson, mathematics tasks are provided for each lesson, and there is an alignment between tasks and goals. There are times when I encounter a math task that isn't meaningful to students, which makes the launch a bit difficult. When that happens, I may end up giving students more help then I probably should. I think that identifying a doing mathematics task is the most challenging, and if not done well, it can lead more problems.
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    • 28 Oct 2020 11:19 PM | Kayla Worster
      I agree with you Samantha. I have a hard time doing this with my first graders. I want to challenge them. It's hard to give a task that would allow them to have a productive struggle and not be too challenging.
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      • 29 Oct 2020 3:25 PM | Samantha Welch
        Exactly. Then, what is a productive struggle for some, might be too challenging for others. All students are different!
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  • 28 Oct 2020 10:17 PM | Hillary H.
    As many others said I feel very fortunate that the math program my district uses has learning goals for lessons and many times through the lessons to allow students to think critically through the tasks. I find that sometimes this tasks are not true doing-mathematics tasks. When this happens I sometimes it finding challenging to find true doing-mathematics task that work well with goals. I find this especially hard when working with things like learning facts.
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  • 28 Oct 2020 11:26 PM | Kayla Worster
    As mentioned by others, our district has a math curriculum that does a great job identifying the learning goals, identifying a doing- math task, and aligning with tasks and goals. My biggest challenge is launching a task to ensure student access. I'm finding that some of my first graders can get started with a task and others don't know where to start.
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  • 29 Oct 2020 3:57 PM | Abby S.
    Currently, I feel like the math program that we are using really takes care of the first three points for us. Each activity has a clear learning goal, a high quality task, and ensures alignment between the two. The piece that is hardest in my mind is ensuring the launch ensures student access. This is the portion of the lesson that teachers need the most support with, as it requires intentionality and thought ahead of the lesson.
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  • 29 Oct 2020 3:58 PM | Peggy Clements
    As a math coach, I find the biggest challenge for teachers is identifying appropriate goals that pinpoint the conceptual understanding is the first step and challenging. I have observed some Math Talks around tasks from our math program that were engaging for the K-2 students we work with. That being said, I'm not sure that they're clear on getting to the goals or that the goals are in line to the task.
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  • 29 Oct 2020 5:20 PM | Heather Patterson
    As a few other colleagues in my district wrote, we have a curriculum that states the learning goals and has several tasks that allow students to access higher order thinking skills however, I don't think it allows for many "doing-Mathematics" tasks. I would say that is a challenge for me especially as I have always had (until this strange year) the struggling math students and finding tasks that were "just right" in their challenge was difficult.
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