“The Global Achievement Gap” and goals for a new school year

During PD at my new school, we spent an hour reading the first chapter of “The Global Achievement Gap” by Tony Wagner. Although I can’t speak to the whole book, the first chapter helped me synthesize my goals for the upcoming year.

I want to increase:

  • opportunities for student feedback on lessons/projects/the class as a whole
  • self-directed learning and opportunities for students to take initiative
  • availability and use of tools (both physical manipulatives as well as technology)
  • teamwork (self-directed teams)
  • use of open-ended projects that require students to
    • determine what the important questions are (what needs to be “found out” to solve the problem)
    • gather information from a variety of sources
    • ask questions about which information is valuable
    • synthesize a large amount of data/information
    • communicate their results/thinking clearly
  • inquiry-based lessons that require students to use/develop their critical thinking skills to get to what’s important
  • use of questions with more than one right answer
  • opportunities to create beautiful/artistic work
  • ways that students are asked to communicate their ideas and understanding

A big goal of mine is to design projects/units that allow students to use their mathematical skills to investigate (a) science/engineering and (b)social justice…..but I don’t feel ready to tackle that quite yet.

Other goals:

a. What do I want to communicate to my students on a daily basis?

  • your thinking is valuable regardless of whether you’re right or wrong
  • math should make sense to you (as in math is about sense-making not as in “WHY DON’T YOU GET IT, DAMNIT!)
  • you need to be an active learner and take responsibility for your own understanding (knowing that I’m here to help – but can’t do the hard part for you)
  • engaging with other students’ mathematical ideas is interesting and important
  • tackling a problem that you don’t know how to solve straight away is doing mathematics
  • learning happens in leaps and bounds when we make mistakes and work through them (one of the best feelings in the world is “I used to think ____ but now I think _____ and maybe I’ll think something different in the future.”)

…more to come!

I recently discovered MTBOS and I’m so excited to join the community. Thanks ispeakmath.org for starting up Sunday blogging.

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