Episode #264: Evolving as an Educator: Journey to Demonstrating Mathematical Thinking – A Math Mentoring Moment

Dec 18, 2023 | Podcast | 0 comments



Episode Summary:

In this where are they now mentoring moment episode we speak again with Adam Love; Adam joined us back on episode 120 when he was as first year teacher from Myrtle Beach South Carolina. 

3 years later and a wealth of ideas, teaching strategies, and many lessons learned Adam is here to discuss how to help students show their thinking in multiple ways. 

This is another Math Mentoring Moment episode where we chat with a teacher like you who is working through some problems of practice and together we brainstorm ways to overcome them. 

What You’ll Learn:

  • How do I help students use models and strategies over the algorithms? 
  • How do I keep students on task when I’m working in small groups?
  • Why you need to be crystal clear with expectations around demonstrating understanding.

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00:00:00:04 – 00:00:22:09
Adam Love
Teaching and still learning the landscape of seventh and eighth grade math at a detail level, figuring out okay, where it’s going, where it’s going. Once we get further in, anytime there’s a geometry concept, I’m good because it’s hard geometry, but my students already know the algorithms and so I’ve been trying my big push these first four weeks was trying to get them to use it in this way.

00:00:22:11 – 00:00:40:14
Jon Orr
Now Mentoring Moment Episode We speak with Adam Love. Adam joined us way back a few years ago, back on episode 120 when he was a first year teacher, brand new, right out of the gates. And back then, he was struggling to engage a student with curiosity. But we got back.

00:00:40:17 – 00:01:07:10
Kyle Pearce
Three years later and a wealth of ideas, teaching strategies and many lessons learned. Adam is here to discuss how to help his students show their thinking in multiple ways. This is another Math mentoring Moment episode where we chat with a teacher just like you, who’s working through some problems of practice, and together we brainstorm ways to overcome them.

00:01:07:12 – 00:01:26:12
Kyle Pearce
Let’s do it. Ooh. What? Welcome to the Making Math Moments That Matter podcast. I’m Kyle Pierce.

00:01:26:12 – 00:01:29:10
Jon Orr
And I’m John or we are from ICAP on Intercom.

00:01:29:12 – 00:01:40:10
Kyle Pearce
This is the only podcast that coaches you through a six step plan to grow your mathematics program, whether at the classroom level or at the district level.

00:01:40:10 – 00:01:52:22
Jon Orr
And we do that by helping you cultivate and foster your mathematics program with a strong, healthy and balanced tree. And if you master the six parts of effective mathematics program, the impact will grow and reach far and wide.

00:01:53:00 – 00:02:20:10
Kyle Pearce
Every week you’ll get the insight you need to stop feeling overwhelmed, gain back your confidence and get back to enjoying the planning and facilitating of your mathematics program for the students or the educators that you serve. All right, Now, friends, we’re going to dig in here with Adam, who’s back now a year four teacher and ready to shake some pebbles loose.

00:02:20:12 – 00:02:42:03
Jon Orr
Hey there, Adam. Thanks for joining us again here on the Big Math Moments That Matter podcast. We chatted a while ago, a few years ago, Episode 120 and back then you were first year teacher, so we’re excited to dive in. What’s been a few years later? We talked about getting Curiosity going with our students and engaging around abstract math concepts.

00:02:42:03 – 00:02:47:22
Jon Orr
So I’m really excited to dig in here. But before we do, how You Been has a little bit been good.

00:02:48:01 – 00:03:11:14
Adam Love
So last time we talked, I was in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and actually this summer me and my wife moved up to Pennsylvania. So this is my fourth year teaching, but this is my first year at this school. So I kind of get to go back through the first year with school, you know, for school stuff. So, yeah, we moved the summer and change class load a little bit.

00:03:11:14 – 00:03:35:20
Adam Love
So to where I was teaching, I got to teach everything from Algebra one all the way up to calculus. So on a given day, I was able to see kind of the whole progression throughout the day and mainly in the high school. So then coming here, I have a little bit of high school load and then I also am in the middle school a little bit more, so jumping down a little bit while still staying in some of my high school classes.

00:03:35:20 – 00:03:42:09
Adam Love
So that’s kind of a major change as far as me going. I mean, it’s been going well and enjoying it.

00:03:42:09 – 00:04:04:24
Kyle Pearce
So awesome. There’s something to be said about sometimes when you are in a building when you first start. Last time we chatted you were in your first year. You were probably just like all these things coming at you, right? Like, there’s so much to learn just from structurally, logistically moves in the classroom, the content itself, resources, it’s endless.

00:04:05:01 – 00:04:24:13
Kyle Pearce
And then you get a few years under your belt and it’s almost like you also are building this kind of rapport. This people in the building start to know who you are. Kids probably hear it’s almost like this word of mouth, right, of like who a teacher is and what they’re all about. And that kind of builds you some credibility.

00:04:24:15 – 00:04:53:19
Kyle Pearce
And now you’ve gone you’ve moved quite a distance away. So no one there knows you in the building, no one knows you. It’s like you’re starting from scratch, which can be scary in one sense. But sometimes times it’s kind of energizing in another where you get to kind of like redo some things. I’m wondering when you were coming into this new role, this new building, this new school, what was going through your head in terms of like starting that new journey?

00:04:53:20 – 00:05:09:04
Kyle Pearce
Were there certain things that you’re like, You know what, I really want to make sure I focus on this? Or were you just sort of like, I just want to make sure I keep my head above water? What was going through your head and how is that going now that now that you’re settling in to a new school and a new school year?

00:05:09:06 – 00:05:34:15
Adam Love
Yeah. So there was definitely some positives and negatives. So one of the exciting part was the school I was in that was where my first year was. And so those students saw first year me. And so I think the first, the first 20 hours or something like that, the amount of growth you get in those first 20 hours, I felt that was my class in the first year and a half.

00:05:34:15 – 00:06:05:24
Adam Love
It changed every day. I was like every two months. I was like, Oh, I’m trying this and I’m trying this. And it took me about a year and a half. So it was like, okay, this this is basically what I want my classroom to look like. And I started to feel comfortable. And then there’s the micro changes. But so they knew I even had some students like, Yeah, we had O.G., Mr. Love, we had fresh out of college and I’m very different now, so like getting to start over with students fully having my process down as far as like what I want my classroom to look like and the things I value, how I want

00:06:05:24 – 00:06:31:14
Adam Love
the work to be done, that kind of stuff. So that was helpful. That was nice. Especially even given new classes, it was easier to take on new classes because at least I had a framework to fit them in. It was like, Well, I’ve seen you take that concept, but the hard thing is, so the school I was in was very small and so small, and the fact that the kids that I tore down, the one I had for geometry the next year and then I would have them the next year for algebra two.

00:06:31:20 – 00:06:44:20
Adam Love
So this year I was supposed to have the same kids for preschool. So it was a blessing because as you talk about gaining reputation or something among students, it wasn’t just that. It was like they totally knew what I was about.

00:06:44:22 – 00:06:52:05
Kyle Pearce
Or and you knew what they were about, right? You’re like, I know exactly who’s coming into this classroom and I know exactly what they need.

00:06:52:05 – 00:07:13:14
Adam Love
And it was like in knowing where I was going to be pushing them, I was able to sneak so many things down in, especially algebra one and geometry, just ways to work with math visually, using geometry to just building in slow visually with similar triangles like small things like that. That really helped me. And I was able to start putting in trigonometry in geometry.

00:07:13:14 – 00:07:29:06
Adam Love
So when we hit in algebra two, it’s like we’ve already seen this. So it was like I was like my own students. So that was awesome. So as we come to a new school, I have none of that. And so I was used to teaching kids that I had a lot of rapport with and a lot of knowledge with.

00:07:29:07 – 00:07:56:16
Adam Love
So kind of coming in with duper blank slate. And I felt like this first felt like we just finished our fifth week. So I was like the first month just calibrating. All right, what do they even know? I know what my preschool kids I used to have, what I could expect of them. Did these kids have that? And then also adding on teaching seventh and eighth grade math where it was like I had taught that before.

00:07:56:18 – 00:08:14:00
Adam Love
So I just I spent a lot of time in the content, a lot of time in the curriculum in theory, and got reading to figure out how it all connects. And I knew what was in seventh and eighth grade. I know there’s proportions in there. I know there’s early algebra in there, but I never had to really know how it all connected completely.

00:08:14:06 – 00:08:35:07
Adam Love
And so I think that combined with the new students and then I would say I moved from a primarily being an honors track teacher to the at least a middle school. Classes that I have would be the whatever I think you guys call it, something different. But anyway, the regular track of curriculum. So a lot of my kids had a lot more learner needs as far as their learning support, a lot more.

00:08:35:12 – 00:08:44:20
Adam Love
So yeah, just there’s a lot of learning for me. Yeah. Like I have to learn how to be a better teacher. I can’t just do it how I did it because they’re not getting it the same way.

00:08:44:20 – 00:08:52:21
Kyle Pearce
So good on you for recognizing that though, because that’s the first piece. It’s a big journey, but it’s still massive to at least recognize that.

00:08:52:21 – 00:09:21:12
Jon Orr
So yeah, because you recognize how much you’re going to grow even this year compared to even the last year. So take me back for a sec. I’m interested in comparing OGE, Mr. Load and the new and improved Mr. Love. So think about your was your first year. You now in your fifth year, you’re starting your fifth year. Tell me the differences or like tell me compare and contrast but also maybe what are some of the things you’re like, Man, I can’t believe I was doing that and now I’m doing this.

00:09:21:14 – 00:09:24:10
Jon Orr
Just give us some of that kind of that journey that you went on.

00:09:24:10 – 00:09:42:15
Adam Love
Well, I feel like you could trace that if we looked at the podcast that you guys put out that along with, like I read building things in classrooms and then that time did some stuff, I looked at a lot of stuff from Pam Harris and a lot of that problem stream kind of stuff. And then I think we had her on the podcast from Mathematic.

00:09:42:17 – 00:09:43:20
Jon Orr
Yeah, yeah. Oh yeah.

00:09:43:20 – 00:10:17:17
Adam Love
You saved my bacon so much first couple of years, just getting resources that are at least built towards the whole curiosity first or work with it and then we’ll talk about it later and then practice. And so, you know, I could go down the line from cleaning up my assessment techniques to moving, you know, I started off test quizzes, all that kind of stuff, moving to growth days as far as once a week kind of thing, trying to do it super correction based as far as just like being able to change mistakes, being able to improve.

00:10:17:19 – 00:10:41:01
Adam Love
So kind of trying to get that baseline in. I mean, I would spiraled my curriculum work through all that. It’s ugly, but I working through it at least and so one on that as well. And then I mean just working vertically at whiteboards for the majority of time that I mean, I think everyone who’s tried that at least has seen just the game change with that that is.

00:10:41:03 – 00:10:49:02
Adam Love
But yeah, I mean there’s all those things. It never happened all at once. It was just a little bit here, a little bit there. Yeah. Trying that, figuring out.

00:10:49:02 – 00:10:49:10
Kyle Pearce
Well that’s.

00:10:49:10 – 00:11:03:15
Adam Love
Huge for, for which class. I mean the problem problems were huge and especially at those older levels just teaching, you know, very simplifying rational expressions, these ugly things that I’m still confused why we need to simplify them.

00:11:03:15 – 00:11:06:04
Kyle Pearce
But yeah, but we do.

00:11:06:05 – 00:11:13:14
Adam Love
But we do. So yeah. So that’s a brief. The things that have changed and it’s been over time, so that’s awesome.

00:11:13:14 – 00:11:13:22
Kyle Pearce

00:11:14:02 – 00:11:16:13
Adam Love
Yeah. That’s the big thing to us.

00:11:16:13 – 00:11:29:16
Kyle Pearce
It’s math to our years. I was going to say music to our ears, but it’s really awesome to hear. And actually you mentioned Pam Harris. We just spoke with her exactly a week ago was last Thursday night. So she’s coming back on the podcast.

00:11:29:16 – 00:11:30:07
Adam Love

00:11:30:09 – 00:11:54:15
Kyle Pearce
This episode I think is coming out after her episode, ironically. So we kind of juggled up the schedule a little bit there. But yeah, by the time this comes live, she will have come on again and yeah, problem strings are huge. But the one thing I’m hearing from you is that you’re definitely a lifelong learner. You’re an Academy member, you are digging in, you’re essentially taking this thing on big time.

00:11:54:15 – 00:12:14:10
Kyle Pearce
And for a lot of people, it’s really easy to go into a position, maybe be overwhelmed, and then a lot of people kind of throw their arms in the air. Right. As I guess typical student when they get stuck in math and they just sort of go like, I don’t know what to do next, but you’ve done a ton of reading, you’ve done a ton of learning, and my hat goes off to you for all of that.

00:12:14:10 – 00:12:35:15
Kyle Pearce
I’m wondering, what do you think right now? So you’ve clearly had all kinds of growth speaking to you in your first year teaching. I wish that I was as I don’t know if it was motivation I was missing in my first year teaching or just pure ignorance is what I had. I just didn’t know what I needed to do.

00:12:35:15 – 00:12:59:24
Kyle Pearce
In some ways, somehow you managed to kind of like figure that out way earlier than I did. So again, bravo to you. You came in your first year teacher and you landed in this place where it was like you were wise enough or bumped into it or something where you’ve done all of this work and it sounds like you’ve had so much growth in just a short period of time.

00:13:00:01 – 00:13:17:09
Kyle Pearce
What would you say right now is your biggest, I guess, challenge that you’re grappling with right now? And we’re always going to have them, but what’s the one that’s on your mind right now? If you were to say, you know, if I could focus all of my attention on one thing, it’s this thing right now. What’s going on in your world?

00:13:17:09 – 00:13:36:09
Adam Love
Well, this is different than what I think I put on before, because there’s a couple episodes that you guys did couple weeks ago that kind of got me down a path. And I was like, okay, I can at least I don’t have to solve, but that’s something I can work on. So gives me a direction. I mean, anytime a little doll comes out, I was like, Yes, this is so great.

00:13:36:11 – 00:13:51:24
Adam Love
But I think the biggest things that I’m glad I originally was going to talk to you, I think I was on the schedule for before the school year started, and I’m very glad that I had to push it off because I wouldn’t have had these issues before the school year started. So a couple of things I’m running into is there’s two big ones.

00:13:52:00 – 00:14:27:04
Adam Love
One, teaching. I’m still learning the landscape of seventh and eighth grade math at a detail level, figuring out, okay, where it’s going, where it’s going. Once we get further in, Anytime there’s a geometry concept, I’m good because geometry, but my students already know the algorithms. And so I’ve been trying. My big push these first four weeks was trying to get them to use a number line and a double number line to start working through addition and modification and division and some of that Pam Harris stuff, especially just the strategies, the over strategy, all that kind of stuff.

00:14:27:06 – 00:14:42:19
Adam Love
And what I’m running into is when I’ll send them in their groups to work on stuff or I’ll just have them stay at their desks. It’s better that way for that day and they’re just doing long division. It can be a curious to ask me whatever they do, long division, and I’m like, I don’t know where to go with that.

00:14:42:19 – 00:15:00:10
Adam Love
I’m trying to get them to actually think about what they’re doing because they really don’t know what they’re doing. They’re just doing what they already have, the secrets they have. Then I feel like I’m one thing my teachers are teaching me, do it this way or something like that, either trying to get them to see why I’m trying to get them to think this way.

00:15:00:10 – 00:15:14:20
Adam Love
So they actually think instead of just do. This is really hard working with kids who already know the outcome, even though they couldn’t do it professionally. But since they know they know it, they’re just going to jump to it each time. They they don’t want to learn something new.

00:15:14:22 – 00:15:35:10
Jon Orr
I get that. And I’m curious, as you said something just a minute ago, so they jump into it or they jump to this and they don’t want to learn the new thing that you’re trying to teach them. And I’m wondering I’m wondering about that interaction. What does that look like between what problem they’re solving? What kind of problem is it?

00:15:35:10 – 00:15:59:01
Jon Orr
I know you said you’re using Pam Harris’s problems, which are her straightening problems. Things are naturally leading to a particular strategy, but an efficient way to do the problem. That whole like what’s that, Kyle? If you ask kids to do go, what’s 1999 subtract or 20 strike one or 99 and kids are like carrying everything all over the place and it’s easier to think about it this way.

00:15:59:04 – 00:16:20:19
Jon Orr
I’m curious about what happens when you’re taking up a problem or what does it look like when you’re consolidating and trying to kind of show your strategy? And why I’m saying that is because I think kids need to feel like if I’m going to jump ship from something I know works over to this strategy over here, it’s got to be better.

00:16:20:24 – 00:16:21:22
Jon Orr
It’s got to be fast.

00:16:21:22 – 00:16:23:20
Kyle Pearce
What’s yeah, what’s the value there?

00:16:23:20 – 00:16:34:06
Jon Orr
Yeah, it’s like, wait a minute, He did that quickly and accurately. Is that happening in the room? Fill me in on what some of those interactions look like when you’re consolidate.

00:16:34:08 – 00:17:07:06
Adam Love
Yeah. So I started off by grabbing a lot of kind of like the first days of a lot of more the upper elementary units that you guys even have on your test page that I think Niagara Falls or something was born this week or I’ve been trying to use three tasks to kind of forge that. And it’s like at some point they recognize that it’s division or whatever or edition, and as soon as they recognize that, they’re jump into loading them up and go with them.

00:17:07:06 – 00:17:31:16
Adam Love
So I even tweet this this week. I remember it was last week and I was like, okay, we’re going to scrap whatever I did have planned. And I just tried. I use the same context. I think, but I tried to do it more like showing the more efficient strategy, and they just didn’t quite buy it. I tried it again on and then so I went back and I looked at a very specific strategy like, What do I want to pull out?

00:17:31:18 – 00:18:05:04
Adam Love
And I did it on this last week. And this kind of leads to my second question is I had a few kids. I think I had three or four in this class. It’s like 14. I had three or four who were starting to catch on to it. And it was like, okay, I got three. Cool. We’re just going to like, make sure that these three because like, I think the problem itself is like 24 or 1248 divided by 24 and but it starts with like 2400 divided by 24 and it tries to get it to double in half and use the ratio table, all that.

00:18:05:04 – 00:18:16:11
Adam Love
And even in doing all of that and showing it’s like they still are running two division. And then I had one kid who was just like, Well, you just have it because you have that.

00:18:16:13 – 00:18:19:19
Kyle Pearce
Yeah, yeah, you’re like, you more of you keep going.

00:18:19:21 – 00:18:37:00
Adam Love
More of you. But then you just like if didn’t even understand that he understands it. And so this kind of leads to more. My second question, because I think I’m running into this more is in that class in particular as they’re working in their groups. If I leave, like, you know, I’m moving around the room and I’m trying to come in as I leave.

00:18:37:00 – 00:18:50:14
Adam Love
As soon as I leave, everything’s gone. They’re starting to get off task and I have to correct them, disappear. I have to instantly step in if I want to work with a group. There’s so much noise in the room and then, No, it’s not math. I’ve had noisy rooms where everyone’s talking.

00:18:50:16 – 00:18:53:07
Kyle Pearce
It’s a different buzz going on.

00:18:53:09 – 00:19:15:11
Adam Love
Yes, it’s totally different. And so it’s like as soon as I leave, they lose the independent. They can’t work on problems by themselves. Well, at least that’s what I’m running into. And so it’s taking so much energy to get them focused and to listen that to try to show them like, oh, this is better. It’s like they don’t even have the bandwidth to stay with me that long.

00:19:15:15 – 00:19:19:17
Adam Love
And so they’re either distracted or they shut down. And it’s like, Well, neither are working.

00:19:19:17 – 00:19:53:14
Kyle Pearce
Yeah, no, that’s a really tough spot to be in. And there’s going to be times and it’s interesting too. I try my best. I catch myself all the time missing this. But when I think about things like the students currently are maybe unable to do a certain thing, it’s almost like trying to reword it or reframe it is like I haven’t figured out a way to help them to blank grade, so I haven’t figured out yet how to help them see or how to get them to be independent when I’m not standing right next to them.

00:19:53:16 – 00:20:29:01
Kyle Pearce
And so there’s that problem. So that’s a challenge which is probably may have little to do with your actual math problem, which is this idea that you’re going how do I get them to see value in this strategy? So those two things are like separate things. But one thing I do know is that if we can help them to have these epiphanies right, if we can have them help them to see kind of like that student you had said who is like, Oh, they sort of did this having thing and like all of a sudden, but they weren’t quite there yet.

00:20:29:01 – 00:20:53:10
Kyle Pearce
It makes me wonder, sometimes will frame a problem so that they bump into the learning and then there’s like an epiphany. But then if they’re getting stuck there, sometimes a good approach is also to start with that. John What did Pam refer to them as? Like she called it not a helper, but something along those lines. She had a word for it where it was like, do you want to take them right down the path?

00:20:53:10 – 00:21:15:18
Kyle Pearce
So sometimes it’s nice for them to bump into it so they recognize the pattern or the behavior. But if they’re struggling with recognizing that. So that’s kind of what I was hearing you say. Sometimes it’s like, all right, now let’s do a completely different problem and work our way all the way up to it. So it’s almost like super explicit that we’re like, Hey, we’re going to give you small problems.

00:21:15:18 – 00:21:37:21
Kyle Pearce
You gave like I think it was 1200 divided by 24. It’s like, all right, let’s go all the way back down and let’s go to numbers that I know that they’re going to be okay with. Maybe it’s like 48 in 24 or maybe it’s whatever it is, something really easy. And then we frame that string to kind of get them closer and closer to the problem they’re working with.

00:21:37:23 – 00:22:02:17
Kyle Pearce
Sometimes that can be helpful, but ultimately, at the end, my wonder might be when students are they have the algorithm. It’s really hard. We know research even tells us once you know the algorithm, it’s very hard to get someone to even want to pay any attention to anything else. It’s like they’ve already got it, so you’ve already know, why do I care about this?

00:22:02:19 – 00:22:21:24
Kyle Pearce
But if we can get them and encourage them with some of our prompts and some prompts that come to mind for me is I’m always trying to play this role of like, I don’t know how that algorithm works and I don’t believe you. I’m sort of this guy that I’m like, I need you to prove it to me.

00:22:22:01 – 00:22:44:00
Kyle Pearce
And digital paint me a picture, pretend like I’ve never done math before, that a lot of times they’ll say, Well, Mr. Pierce, you know, you know the answer. And I’m like, No, I don’t. And I play that role nonstop. And I’m just like, I actually don’t. And I was never good with the algorithm. So I need you to be able to show me why that works.

00:22:44:00 – 00:23:14:07
Kyle Pearce
How would you defend that? And I find it’s not always an easy sell at first, but if you stick to that, what students will eventually recognize is, Oh, he actually doesn’t care as much about the answer as maybe I thought he did. And it makes me wonder as well, if you were to zoom out on this new world that you’re in, this new environment, you’re in a new school, you’re in a new part of the country for you anyway.

00:23:14:09 – 00:23:46:13
Kyle Pearce
And if you were to zoom out and go like, what does math class look like in the other classrooms in the building? And is like, have they been repeatedly sort of convinced that really all that matters is the answer? So I’m just giving you what everyone before you, Mr. Love, was asking me for, and we’re in week five, and they’re sort of not sure why you want something different than what maybe other people have wanted.

00:23:46:15 – 00:24:11:22
Kyle Pearce
So I said a lot there. But I guess the question I have for you is do you think that potentially these students have sort of been told a story about math that’s more about an answer and maybe not so much about proving or justifying or doing all of that adaptive reasoning skills? What would you say, like if you could kind of summarize that?

00:24:11:22 – 00:24:24:23
Kyle Pearce
Is it more about, hey, let’s just get to the answer? Or is modeling and sharing improving and communicating something that is highly valued in the building that you’re working in currently?

00:24:24:24 – 00:24:32:21
Adam Love
I wouldn’t say it’s devalued, but I don’t think it’s present and I don’t think and I guess I should say I know that and I don’t say that as a no.

00:24:32:22 – 00:24:35:00
Kyle Pearce
No, no, by all means for sure.

00:24:35:00 – 00:24:35:09
Jon Orr
No, no.

00:24:35:10 – 00:24:54:07
Adam Love
Building. It’s just like I almost feel like it’s. But you understand, if you were to experience, like even the teachers, if you would experience this, you would understand this is just way better. And so, yeah, I think for sure, like when the first week, two weeks, whatever, like one of their homework problems is I gave them a couple of different problems.

00:24:54:12 – 00:25:10:13
Adam Love
But the homework and the book doesn’t say this that they’re working on. If I said I want you to model them for me, and I tried to show them what that wasn’t and had no idea what I was talking about, that it was just foreign concept to them. When I said, Can you show that to me? They just line them up and we’re like, Well, yeah, you add this to this, and then you carry that.

00:25:10:13 – 00:25:26:14
Adam Love
It’s like I showed you there it is. And, and so, yeah, I mean, it is foreign. And I guess as you’re talking just like this is going to be a year long project, just like I’m just going to try to get them one step further. They’re not going to hit the standards that I originally thought at the beginning of the year.

00:25:26:16 – 00:25:46:21
Jon Orr
That’s a great attitude to take because I think especially in your big school versus a small school, every class that comes into your class potentially, you’ve never taught them before and they have the preexisting beliefs. What math is, especially as you get older and the grades. And I think your attitude right now is saying it’s a year long process is great.

00:25:46:21 – 00:26:04:12
Jon Orr
I think that’s what’s needed. Right. Think about let’s say you’re teaching grade seven eight now, but those students, let’s say they end up back in your class in geometry, and they’ve come through that full circle in a few years and all of a sudden you see them again and you’re using similar models then and they’re like, Oh yeah, I remember that.

00:26:04:12 – 00:26:22:09
Jon Orr
And it’s like now it’s not foreign to them. It’s not as foreign to them. You did probably a great job. Maybe they didn’t adopt in that year in that three, eight, seven, eight year when you had them and all of a sudden they start to see the benefit now down here. And this is the nice thing about some of these models, they stretch vertically depending on the model that you’re using.

00:26:22:11 – 00:26:41:08
Jon Orr
I think what a good tip for you would be is, is what I do, because this happens in my class too, that kids will be just doing what they want to do. And I just use language, like you said, Adam, where it’s like and what Kyle says is kind of saying like, I’m not sure, but what I usually do when I’m demonstrating a consulting at the end of the lesson is like, I like to do it this way and this is the strategy.

00:26:41:08 – 00:26:57:19
Jon Orr
I want to do it today. I’m going to model it here on the board so everyone can see it. And this is the one that I want you to try on the next three problems. And every time we solve a problem, for example, when I saw proportions, like we saw the ball double number lines, I never bring out the cross multiplying.

00:26:57:19 – 00:27:15:22
Jon Orr
We never even look at it. I never even show them like setting up the two fractions side by side and then even even just showing a multiplier between them. It’s like always double number line every time. And some kids will start to kind of like, I don’t need to draw the whole number line, I’ll just try a couple side by side and they’re already on their place.

00:27:15:22 – 00:27:38:12
Jon Orr
They’re like setting up a traditional proportion, right? So it’s like every time you are modeling it in front of kids and you’re always consistently saying, This model is great, this is the way I do it. It’s faster for me. Yeah, Over time they will start to see the benefits because you’re always reinforcing it. And I usually say, I love your strategy.

00:27:38:12 – 00:28:02:24
Jon Orr
You want to do your strategy, go ahead and you do your strategy. Just make sure it works. Like use Kyle’s move. Show me that it works. Hey, if you can’t. All right, This is the strategy that we’re going to use over here. This is what I’ve always going to demonstrate. And then it’s just that repeat emotion. And by the end of the year, you’re going to have some students who have pushed forward on it because the models you’re using in the wild you’re choosing can be used in lots of different places and lots of different areas.

00:28:02:24 – 00:28:20:23
Jon Orr
So it’s like my wife, I think we said this a couple podcasts ago of my wife, who’s a kindergarten teacher. When you think about kindergartners come, she’s got junior kindergartners coming in. So some of them are three years old and they leave when they leave kindergarten. And then let’s say that year they’re maybe they’re only four years old when they leave.

00:28:21:00 – 00:28:27:01
Jon Orr
However, growth for a kindergartner in one year is intense. They’re like babies when they.

00:28:27:02 – 00:28:30:18
Kyle Pearce
It’s 25% of their entire time on Earth. I know.

00:28:30:20 – 00:28:53:03
Jon Orr
And by the end of the time, they leave. Right. They’ve learned so much about school and counting. And it’s like the kids at the end of kindergarten are just so much for the beginning. But the next school year, you got a whole bunch of three year olds again. And the teachers, often in kindergarten. This is my way, Scarlett always says, is that when you start kindergarten, you forget that everyone’s a baby again.

00:28:53:03 – 00:29:07:04
Jon Orr
It’s like, Oh, they were doing all of this only a couple of months ago. But that was a different group. And it’s like all of a sudden we’ve got three year olds again and we have to do it all over again. And we have to go all through all year before they get to the good stage where they can be self-sufficient and work on themselves.

00:29:07:04 – 00:29:18:08
Jon Orr
So it’s kind of like you’re in the baby stage right now and you’re trying to get them to kind of like get familiar with all these tools and models and representations. And by the end of the year, it might be a completely different story.

00:29:18:14 – 00:29:48:21
Kyle Pearce
To that point, what comes to mind is tying your shoes, right? It’s like you. Oh my gosh, it’s taken forever for kids to learn how to tie their shoes. And you’ll probably feel that way when it comes to this idea of, say, modeling or proving. And in reality, it’s like it’s almost like you almost in your mind want to go and it sounds like you’ve already whether it’s subconscious or whether it’s explicit for you, you got to commit it that you’re like, I’m going to do this no matter what.

00:29:48:21 – 00:30:10:18
Kyle Pearce
And I know that over time it’s going to have an impact, even if it’s not going to be like overnight and it’s not going to be even next week or maybe even next month, But by the end of the school year, like John saying, it’s like if they’re like, I know exactly what Mr. Love wants from me on any math problem, it’s like, I want these things.

00:30:10:20 – 00:30:29:16
Kyle Pearce
And then just picture this three years from now, if they do end up in one of your later classes, they’re going to think back to the O.G. Mr. Love that they have in their mind, and they’re going to be like, He’s the same guy. He’s the same guy. He still wants the same things out of me. He wants the same Show me what you know.

00:30:29:22 – 00:30:49:23
Kyle Pearce
Don’t show me the answer and the answer alone. And once again, we’re not saying algorithms are bad. I know that’s not what you’re saying either. They’re great. They’re really powerful. It’s kind of to John’s point, it’s like, that’s awesome that you have that skill. But what’s not awesome is if you don’t really know why that thing works, that’s not super awesome.

00:30:50:00 – 00:31:19:14
Kyle Pearce
Still helpful, Still good to know, but it’s not really going to help you. Problem solve. So keeping up with that, you’re in this in this world where it sounds like and you’re not alone all around North America and beyond, we chat with district partners and folks all over the place, and they’re in in the same spot, like we’re almost like in the infancy stage of actually teaching mathematics in the way that you’re envisioning.

00:31:19:17 – 00:31:47:07
Kyle Pearce
Right. So like, good on you for that. But on the negative side, it’s a lot of work to do and sometimes it can feel like an endless battle. But it sounds to me, you know, what you want to do. And ultimately at the end of the day, it really comes down to going and over time, helping kids to understand and have sort of this epiphany as to why it is we’re asking them to do what we’re asking them to do.

00:31:47:07 – 00:32:06:10
Kyle Pearce
And I remember when I first began the journey of having kids show their work, I just said, show your work, show your work, show your work. But it didn’t do a great job. And really helping them to understand what I meant by that. And this idea of modeling really is all about showing your work. And for me, it’s all about proving it.

00:32:06:10 – 00:32:31:15
Kyle Pearce
Prove it to your biggest skeptic. You’ll even notice in some of our units we use that word skeptic. Pretend like you’re explaining this to your biggest skeptic. So it’s like if you had to show this solution and they’re like, I don’t believe you. What are you going to do next? And that right there to me is like just to keep pushing kids to just more and more and more.

00:32:31:17 – 00:33:00:12
Kyle Pearce
You think about debate clubs and things like that and like how valuable that skill is. We can do that in math class every single day. It’s definitely hard when kids are coming. Maybe from an experience where they’ve gone years without having to do this. So they might not see that value immediately. But sticking with it is going to lead to such a great opportunity for you to do all of these awesome things in math class that you’re already trying to do.

00:33:00:14 – 00:33:20:21
Kyle Pearce
But ultimately, at the end of the day, it sounds to me like you’re on the right path. And I’m hoping the big thing I’m hoping you take away from this conversation is it does take time. Don’t beat yourself up. Don’t give up on it. But I want to turn it back to you and kind of here where your head’s up, based on what we’re chatting about tonight, where is your head at?

00:33:20:21 – 00:33:28:02
Kyle Pearce
What do you think your big takeaway is or your immediate next step is in order to help you continue down this path that you’re on?

00:33:28:08 – 00:33:53:20
Adam Love
I think two things. One, I guess play dumb longer and just expect to play dumb longer and be okay with the small. And I heard he knew this too, but just like I guess saying it out loud is always helpful and talking to someone else. So it’s helpful about it too. But because right now, what would happen next week if I did this, if I said, show me why or I’m not convinced or, you know, I don’t understand, can you show me how that works is they just wouldn’t.

00:33:54:00 – 00:34:22:10
Adam Love
And they’d be like, Oh, I don’t know. Yeah. And they stand there and then if I let them know math happens and I know that’s what would happen now. So I guess in my mind it’s like, All right, be okay with that. Maybe get them started in that process a little bit. And then just almost like that consistency compounds over time and just playing them longer and just refusing to kind of give in to that and just it sounds horrible, but break their will in a way of like you’re going to have to show me why.

00:34:22:10 – 00:34:51:17
Adam Love
Like and then that leads to the second thing. So is that is I probably need to get clear. I know I need to get clear on community creating expectations on what that looks like. I know I’m doing it, but I also know where my specifically my middle school students are at. I mean, I’m going to have to do it probably about seven times each class period, you know, like I’m just going to have to say, in the past I’ve been able to say it once, twice, maybe three times, and boom, my kids have gotten it and they’ve gone.

00:34:51:17 – 00:35:12:09
Adam Love
But I mean, I was dealing with 12th grade calculus students like, of course, they’re going to say it once and they’re going to be fine. So I think just instead of being frustrated, they’re not where, as you said, babies, again, it’s just like being okay with that and then just being like, all right, well, we’ll dumb this down as far as it needs to go and I’m going to do it over and over and over again and make you take one step.

00:35:12:15 – 00:35:29:24
Adam Love
And if that’s all we do, that’s progress. And so I think just adjusting kind of those expectations, to give you an example that I realized today or yesterday, they had a their assessment was just an open little problem. And as I looked at it, as I was hanging out, I was like, oh, they’re not going to be able to do this.

00:35:30:01 – 00:35:51:00
Adam Love
And it was just one of those things like, they’re toast. This is not going to go well for them. And as they you know, I had a line at my desk the entire hour of asking me stuff. Just directionally, there’s reading directions and not able to actually understand what’s happening here. And it was like in that hour I was just like, okay, well, that’s what we’re going to have to start this.

00:35:51:00 – 00:36:06:15
Adam Love
We’re going to have to start. And so I guess just more of that, just like, all right, I’m going to play dumb longer and we’ll pull it all the way back as far as I need to, as long as I need to. And I’m going to get super clear on that, which means I got to be super clear on it and be okay with just progress rather than wherever.

00:36:06:15 – 00:36:09:14
Adam Love
I think a seventh grader should be at the end of the year.

00:36:09:16 – 00:36:37:15
Jon Orr
Right. Right. And I think you have the flexibility, the freedom, just to be clear and say, I want you to show as much as you can, but I want to give you the credit where credit is due. So, for example, if I’m assessing you on a particular skill or if I’m I want to be able to say, you know, this skill inside and out, I would love to say that about you and this skill, but I can’t do that when your strategy or solution looks like this right now, that’s part of it.

00:36:37:16 – 00:37:02:04
Jon Orr
You can do it one way. But this way over here, like if you can do it multiple ways, then hey, I have no doubt in my mind that you know that skill inside and out. And so it’s almost like you’re reserving, say, top grades or top feedback for students who are like, I’m doing this in three different ways and I’m proving to you I’m doing this inside and out because you’re being very clear to everyone that, hey, this is what it’s going to look like.

00:37:02:04 – 00:37:32:07
Jon Orr
It has to look like this, this and this. If this is where you guys want to go, if you’re going to go on this particular skill, if all I see is this I don’t know. I don’t know because you can’t explain it yet. I don’t know that you’re up here on this particular skill yet until. I see other multiple forms of demonstration, so you can always kind of go that route to to be very clear like that plays on your clarity and making sure like this is what it looks like If we want to prove that you know this well and I want you to know it well, that’s my job here to help you

00:37:32:07 – 00:37:43:19
Jon Orr
know it. Well, that’s why I’m showing you the strategy that you may not know yet. You’ve Got the algorithm, but you might not know this strategy. But I think being very clear of what this could look like could be helpful for everybody, too.

00:37:43:19 – 00:38:05:19
Kyle Pearce
And the other thing, too, this kind of goes into that whole anticipation stage where if typically we know students are going to kind of get stuck in that not taking the step to try and model or to do any of those things. So a lot of that comes down to maybe they haven’t seen the models, so we have to continue modeling with them as well.

00:38:05:21 – 00:38:34:21
Kyle Pearce
So that’s important during consolidation. But then there’s also what’s the ask? So if I’m going to do a problem, whatever the problem is tomorrow and I go, okay, I’m going to do this problem, I want them to model what’s the question I can ask them. So it’s always good if a student says, I can’t this or this is all I know, or I don’t know what to do next for me to have a question to ask them, that’s a little bit of a leading question to get them to.

00:38:34:24 – 00:38:58:08
Kyle Pearce
Hey, I wonder. So if it’s something that’s a multiplication problem and the area model lends itself to the context, I wonder what if you were to draw rows and columns or hey, maybe you can use a rectangle to kind of represent those rows and columns. Can you model what that would look like? And it’s always great if there is context there because then you can kind of build on that.

00:38:58:10 – 00:39:26:16
Kyle Pearce
But thinking ahead a little bit and going, All right, I’m pretty confident that a lot of students are going to not take that step or take that leap. What’s the question that I can ask them that will give them an idea, a starter, something to get them a little further down that path. And that’s going to take time, of course, and tweaking over time, but just kind of maybe ahead of time going like I know this is coming.

00:39:26:18 – 00:39:51:24
Kyle Pearce
So what might be a couple of these prompts to kind of keep that thinking flowing Could be something to maybe think about. But ultimately, at the end of the day, it’s been awesome to catch up with you and it sounds like you’ve got a couple of big takeaways here today, which is awesome. I can’t believe that you are only in a one hand’s worth of years of teaching, which is awesome.

00:39:51:24 – 00:40:12:20
Kyle Pearce
I wish I had been thinking as deeply about my practice as early as you are so good on you for that. And I just want to thank on behalf of the math moment maker community for coming back on sharing your progress. And we’re wishing you all the best. Hopefully we’ll be able to check in with you. Hopefully not before or we won’t wait another year.

00:40:12:20 – 00:40:18:07
Kyle Pearce
Hopefully it’ll be sooner than that, but we’d love to get you back on and see where you’re at and hear about the progress.

00:40:18:12 – 00:40:42:18
Adam Love
Yeah, that’d be awesome. Well, I mean, far as the progress goes, that’s people you bring on. But I mean, I just I look back at like, Wow, how lucky was I cleaning a building during student teaching? And I needed something to listen to. And I’m scrolling through archives and I’m like, Oh, here’s a math thing. I saw some task by these people earlier today when I was researching something sure was so happy.

00:40:42:18 – 00:40:51:09
Kyle Pearce
You reminded me of that. I totally forgot that the connection has come back where you were doing a role as a custodian, right? Yeah. Yeah, That’s.

00:40:51:09 – 00:41:07:02
Adam Love
Awesome. So, I mean, that was, what, five years ago, 2018, something like that. And I still look back. I was like, Man, my teaching would be such a different teacher if I just didn’t find you guys. So you guys connected me to a tons of different resources. So thank you.

00:41:07:04 – 00:41:08:10
Jon Orr
Thanks for that. Thanks for.

00:41:08:12 – 00:41:09:21
Kyle Pearce
That’s awesome, my friend.

00:41:09:23 – 00:41:23:01
Jon Orr
That warms our hearts. Adam. This is why we do the podcast is exactly for that. So thanks again and we will definitely be reaching out to set up another time next year and we’ll see where you are. But Adam, take care and good luck.

00:41:23:01 – 00:41:23:19
Kyle Pearce
Thanks, my friend.

00:41:23:19 – 00:41:25:12
Adam Love

00:41:25:14 – 00:41:42:03
Jon Orr
All right. I hope you enjoyed that chat with Adam. Adam has come a long way and not to say that he wasn’t a great teacher in his year one, but what I would do if you didn’t do this right at the beginning of the episode is swap back and look over at episode 120 and then read, Listen to this, or just listen to episode 120.

00:41:42:03 – 00:42:03:06
Jon Orr
Compare the difference between when he was there and where he is now. It’s amazing to see that growth for sure, and I’m excited for his journey. I’m thinking about how build more models into his classroom experience and how to get students to demonstrate that learning when they are resistant. When we think about that, a lot of students will try to resist or put up roadblocks.

00:42:03:06 – 00:42:23:15
Jon Orr
And sometimes we just have to get to the root of the roadblock. There is a roadblock there for a reason. How can we relieve the pedal and that student’s shoe if you’re trying to get them to do a behavior that you’re looking for and seeing for them, because you know that that behavior is better for them in the long run or it helps demonstrate more learning or understanding.

00:42:23:17 – 00:42:41:06
Jon Orr
That’s a teacher move. That’s one of our branches in our tree, in our math classroom tree. And strengthening your branches can help strengthen those teacher moves that are happening in the classroom. The questioning techniques with your students so that you can bring out the learning that you need to see them bring out.

00:42:41:08 – 00:43:06:13
Kyle Pearce
Well, and we know that the tree, it requires all six parts to be nourished rates. It needs to grow together. You can never just focus in one area without focusing on some others. And another area that I see as helping with developing those branches, that pedagogical piece is the limbs of the tree, which is that PD structure, that personal development plan.

00:43:06:15 – 00:43:38:20
Kyle Pearce
And just hearing the list of resources that he’s been digging into over his few short years in teaching, just to think he came and found us before he was a teacher, listening to the podcast, working as a custodian in a school as he was doing his pre-service work, and now he’s talking about the work of Pam Harris and talking about building thinking classrooms and digging into our academy, as he has over the past few years and many, many more.

00:43:38:22 – 00:44:00:21
Kyle Pearce
You can see that he’s building the limbs. The limbs are strengthening. That’s helping him with the branches of the tree. And the other thing that I’m hearing through this conversation is he’s at the same time he’s building that trunk. He’s talking about the culture in his classroom. He’s talking about the pillars right. In what he expects, like what he wants from students.

00:44:00:21 – 00:44:20:16
Kyle Pearce
And the one thing that I will say is he has high expectations for his students, which is really important. But he also recognizes that he does need to meet students where they are. So it’s a great opportunity when we get to chat with educators from the math moments community. So if you haven’t been on the show yet, we would love to hear from you.

00:44:20:16 – 00:44:48:04
Kyle Pearce
You should head on over to make math moments dot com forward slash mentor so that we can talk about your program and we can hear about those areas of your program of that tree that are flourishing and what areas could we work on, which ones can we hone in on and help you to sort of shake out those pebbles and ensure that your tree is growing as strongly as healthily as it possibly can.

00:44:48:06 – 00:45:06:17
Jon Orr
In order to ensure you don’t miss out on new episodes? As we put them out every Monday morning, be sure to subscribe on your favorite podcast platform. Hit that subscribe button, Hit that follow button, and if you can’t leave us a rating and review helps all those other teachers find the show. Just like Adam found our show before he was a teacher.

00:45:06:18 – 00:45:14:09
Jon Orr
It’s going to put it right in front of that next teacher so that spark can get generated and we can help more students that way.

00:45:14:11 – 00:45:35:19
Kyle Pearce
I love it. I love it. Show notes, Links to resources. Complete transcripts, all other goodies are over on the web at make math moments dot com forward slash episode 264. That’s MC Math moment Second forward slash episode 264 And until next time, my math moment maker friends I’m Kyle Pierce.

00:45:35:19 – 00:45:37:05
Jon Orr
And I’m John or.

00:45:37:07 – 00:45:40:09
Kyle Pearce
High fives for us.

00:45:40:11 – 00:45:44:01
Jon Orr
And high five for you.

00:45:44:03 – 00:45:56:08
Oh baby baby baby.

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The Making Math Moments That Matter Podcast with Kyle Pearce & Jon Orr
Weekly interviews, strategy, and advice for building a math classroom that you wish you were in.


Download the 2-page printable 3 Act Math Tip Sheet to ensure that you have the best start to your journey using 3 Act math Tasks to spark curiosity and fuel sense making in your math classroom!

3 Act Math Tip Sheet


Each lesson consists of:

Each Make Math Moments Problem Based Lesson consists of a Teacher Guide to lead you step-by-step through the planning process to ensure your lesson runs without a hitch!

Each Teacher Guide consists of:

  • Intentionality of the lesson;
  • A step-by-step walk through of each phase of the lesson;
  • Visuals, animations, and videos unpacking big ideas, strategies, and models we intend to emerge during the lesson;
  • Sample student approaches to assist in anticipating what your students might do;
  • Resources and downloads including Keynote, Powerpoint, Media Files, and Teacher Guide printable PDF; and,
  • Much more!

Each Make Math Moments Problem Based Lesson begins with a story, visual, video, or other method to Spark Curiosity through context.

Students will often Notice and Wonder before making an estimate to draw them in and invest in the problem.

After student voice has been heard and acknowledged, we will set students off on a Productive Struggle via a prompt related to the Spark context.

These prompts are given each lesson with the following conditions:

  • No calculators are to be used; and,
  • Students are to focus on how they can convince their math community that their solution is valid.

Students are left to engage in a productive struggle as the facilitator circulates to observe and engage in conversation as a means of assessing formatively.

The facilitator is instructed through the Teacher Guide on what specific strategies and models could be used to make connections and consolidate the learning from the lesson.

Often times, animations and walk through videos are provided in the Teacher Guide to assist with planning and delivering the consolidation.

A review image, video, or animation is provided as a conclusion to the task from the lesson.

While this might feel like a natural ending to the context students have been exploring, it is just the beginning as we look to leverage this context via extensions and additional lessons to dig deeper.

At the end of each lesson, consolidation prompts and/or extensions are crafted for students to purposefully practice and demonstrate their current understanding. 

Facilitators are encouraged to collect these consolidation prompts as a means to engage in the assessment process and inform next moves for instruction.

In multi-day units of study, Math Talks are crafted to help build on the thinking from the previous day and build towards the next step in the developmental progression of the concept(s) we are exploring.

Each Math Talk is constructed as a string of related problems that build with intentionality to emerge specific big ideas, strategies, and mathematical models. 

Make Math Moments Problem Based Lessons and Day 1 Teacher Guides are openly available for you to leverage and use with your students without becoming a Make Math Moments Academy Member.

Use our OPEN ACCESS multi-day problem based units!

Make Math Moments Problem Based Lessons and Day 1 Teacher Guides are openly available for you to leverage and use with your students without becoming a Make Math Moments Academy Member.

MMM Unit - Snack Time Fractions Unit


Partitive Division Resulting in a Fraction

Shot Put Multi Day Problem Based Unit - Algebraic Substitution


Equivalence and Algebraic Substitution

Wooly Worm Race - Representing and Adding Fractions


Fractions and Metric Units


Scavenger Hunt - Data Management and Finding The Mean


Represent Categorical Data & Explore Mean

Downloadable resources including blackline mastershandouts, printable Tips Sheetsslide shows, and media files do require a Make Math Moments Academy Membership.


Pedagogically aligned for teachers of K through Grade 12 with content specific examples from Grades 3 through Grade 10.

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