Episode #70: It’s Not The Resource, It’s What You Do With It – A Math Mentoring Moment
That is the Math Moment Maker Takiesha Martinez from San Antonio Texas. Takiesha talks with us about how to decide which resources are the best for her students, how to create an inclusive learning environment, how to increase mathematical discourse and collaboration, and how to plan with intentionality so that you can get the most out of your resources.
What you’re about to hear is another Math Mentoring Moment Episode where we speak with a math moment maker like you who is working on a problem of practice and together we brainstorm a plan for overcoming these challenges.
- How to create an inclusive learning environment.
- How to increase mathematical discourse and collaboration.
- How being more explicit with verbal instructions can change the level of engagement through discourse and collaboration.
- How to plan with intentionality so that you can get the most out of your resources.
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Takiesha Martinez: My algebra students take [ATH 00:00:02] and algebra, okay? It’s an academy so they take ATH and algebra throughout the day. And so because they’re in the classroom, they’re ready to go. They want to discuss, they are in it, they are fully indulged in this notice and wonder. And I get more collaboration throughout the entire time with the second group. It’s just the first group, I don’t think they are totally bought into the beginning of the notice and wonder and then when I ask them to collaborate with one another, that’s when I hear the dead silence.
Kyle Pearce: That there is Math Moment Maker, academy member, Takiesha Martinez from San Antonio, Texas. Takiesha talks with us about how to decide which resources are best for her students how to create an inclusive learning environment, how to increase mathematical discourse and collaboration, and finally how to plan with intentionality so that you can get the most out of your resources. What you’re about to hear is another math mentoring moment episode where we speak with a Math Moment Maker, like you, who is working on a problem of practice and together, we brainstorm a plan for overcoming these challenges.
Kyle Pearce: Jon, are you ready to get into another Math Mentoring Moment episode?
Jon Orr: Oh, yeah.
Kyle Pearce: Here we go.
Kyle Pearce: Welcome to the Making Math Moments That Matter podcast. I’m Kyle Pearce from tapintoteenminds.com.
Jon Orr: And I’m Jon Orr from mrorr-isageek.com.
Kyle Pearce: We are two math teachers who together with you, the community of Math Moment Makers worldwide who want to build and deliver math lessons that spark engagement, fuel learning, and ignite teacher action. Welcome everyone, Math Moment Makers from around the world. It is episode number 70, it’s not the resource, it’s what you do with it, another Math Mentoring Moment.
Jon Orr: Let’s get ready for another jam-packed episode. But first, we’d like to say thank you to all of you, you Math Moment Makers you from around the globe who have taken the time to share feedback by leaving us a review on Apple Podcast.
Kyle Pearce: This week, we want to highlight [Ms. F4 Math 00:02:32] who gave us a five star rating and review that said, “Favorite math ed podcast. These gentlemen are fun to listen to and bring to life real, genuine concerns in mathematics education. They provide a platform to learn and apply best teaching strategies to reach all learners. This is the best math ed podcast out there.”
Jon Orr: Wow. Thank you for that. We can’t thank Ms. F4 Math enough for taking the time out of her day to not only listen, but to help increase the number of ratings. We’re closing in at over 200 from around the globe and closing in at 75 written reviews. So thank you to all of you out there, it is an awesome thing to see these and it helps get that podcast into new listeners’ ears.
Kyle Pearce: Yes, you’re right Jon. It definitely fills our heart with math joy when you go and take a moment to leave us an honest rating and review on Apple Podcast. We most certainly appreciate it.
Jon Orr: All right. Now, let’s jump to our conversation with Takiesha.
Kyle Pearce: Hey there Takiesha, thank you for joining us here on the Making Math Moments That Matter podcast. It’s so awesome to have a chance to chat with a fellow Math Moment Maker from the academy. How are you doing tonight?
Takiesha Martinez: Had a long day, but I’m doing great this evening.
Jon Orr: Oh, right. Just before we hit record, we were talking about Takiesha’s day with standardized testing and how sometimes that’s a drain. Takiesha, could you do us a favor and tell us and our listeners a little bit about yourself, where are you coming to us from? What grades you’re teaching or what’s your teaching role currently?
Takiesha Martinez: So currently I’m in San Antonia, Texas and I teach at an academy. So we go from pre-kinder all the way to eighth grade and I teach the seventh, eighth and algebra classes on the campus. I have been teaching for 20 years, starting off in elementary moving my way to middle school, then I did a little bit of curriculum work, went back into the classroom, came back out of the classroom for curriculum work probably about two more times. And then I decided I wanted to be this principal and, and get my principal certification.
Takiesha Martinez: And so I went back into the classroom to do my practical work, and once I got back into the classroom, I have not left. I have fallen in love with being in the classroom and being with students and being able to just inspire them to do better. So that’s where I’ve ended up right now.
Kyle Pearce: That is awesome, and you know what? The fact that you’ve come out of the classroom and then back in so many times and then still clinging onto the classroom, that is so awesome and makes my heart happy. I’m currently out of the classroom and I definitely, definitely want to get back in and just like your thinking with admin, maybe administration’s still something maybe you want to explore a little later, but I’m glad to hear that you’re enjoying the learning inside the classroom with your, I’m going to call them kiddies, but the middle school kids aren’t so kiddies anymore. So that’s awesome to hear.
Jon Orr: They don’t want to be called kiddies.
Kyle Pearce: Yeah. We want to dive right into asking you one of our questions that we ask all of our guests, and it’s about your math moment. When you think back to your own experience in the classroom as a student, learning math, when someone says math class, what is that math moment that pops into your mind?
Takiesha Martinez: Well, I have a few. One of them is I can remember in middle school that I was in a certain teacher’s classroom and I failed seventh grade math. I will never forget that, and then I had a coach that I was transferred into her classroom. And I have loved math ever since I was in her classroom. It was at that moment I knew that I wanted to be a teacher. Oftentimes was because of how she made math fun, we did lots of collaboration and just lots of different things that I loved. Even though she was up there doing the traditional things that I see myself doing now, it was still just fun that we got a chance to discuss and talk about certain things. So she just made math different for me.
Kyle Pearce: Like you were coached by her, is that true?
Takiesha Martinez: She was my volleyball coach at the time. So because she was my volleyball coach, I got transferred to her classroom. And she was tough, she was very tough, but I learned so much in her classroom there.
Jon Orr: And we’ve heard this a lot and I’ve seen this experience a lot, and we’ve talked about it here on the podcast too that the emotional attachment you have to people and the relationships we’re building here, they go a long way and sometimes us teachers forget about that part, that we’re teaching kids and the kids will latch onto how you relate to them not about math class, or not about school. It’s what’s happening outside of the classroom or personally, and I think that’s so important and I think sometimes we forget that.
Jon Orr: And the other thing I think we’ve talked about here on the podcast before too is that idea of going into teaching based on somebody else. I always think that if a student told me they were go into teaching because of me, it’s like one of two things. It’s either they really like what I’m doing or they really hate it, and they try and be the opposite of that, right? So it’s so awesome that you saw this great role model for yourself to kind of model after and know that you could also get in there and make a difference, so that’s awesome.
Jon Orr: Takiesha, we’re going to talk this evening a little bit about the things that you want to dive into with us, things that you’re maybe struggling with that we can kind of has out, but before we get there do you mind sharing with us a recent success you’ve had in your role?
Takiesha Martinez: Oh. So ever since I have been listening to your podcast, buying the books, reading the books, listening to audio books about all of the wonderful people you’ve had on your podcast, I’ve reached out to a lot of the teachers on my campus. So I’ve started to tell them about the academy and the different things that I’m experiencing. So a few of them are very interested in this new way of doing things. So that is a success that I’ve had with the staff.
Takiesha Martinez: As far as my students, as warmups I’ve started to do the visual patterns, I’ve looked at a lot of the three act math task, and so just different things that I’ve started to implement that they have started to somewhat have more conversation with one another than they have before. So I can see the change in the students a little bit as I gradually start using more and more of the stuff that I’m listening to and looking at from the podcast.
Kyle Pearce: It’s kind of a two-tiered success there with sharing with your colleagues, getting them to think a little bit differently than maybe the way, I know I never used to think about teaching the way I’m trying to teach now. And it’s great to see that some others on your campus are starting to maybe think a little differently. And it all starts with that, right, that belief shift in starting to think that maybe things could look or sound a little differently.
Kyle Pearce: And then also I think it’s great that you are taking things and you’re implementing them little bits at a time, because you know what? I’ve seen really, really bad things happen when you try to take too much and do it all at the same time. And one of the major issues with that is oftentimes we change too much and things don’t work out right, then we don’t know what did it or what’s working, or is it all good? Is it all bad? So that’s definitely something that I think is a great approach is those little changes keep it realistic for yourself, attainable for yourself, and then tweak along the way. So that’s awesome.
Kyle Pearce: At the same time, while you’re having some of these successes, we all, we always say with teachers that we’re chatting with on the podcast, we all experience problems of practice. If we are reflecting on our practice, there’s always something that we want to get a little better at or try a little differently or do some tweaking to. So I’m wondering, is there anything on your mind lately, any problems of practice that you’re experiencing currently or anything on your mind that we can dig into here as a team?
Takiesha Martinez: So currently, I have a few things that I’ve been kind of worried about, I should say. One thing is I’ve looked at so many resources, is trying to figure out what is the best resource for what. I am possibly teaching for the day or trying to make that connection. So right now, I’m just trying a lot of different things to promote conversation and collaboration in the classroom, but I want to get to a point where I know that what I’m starting off with has a deeper connection all the way through the entire lesson that they’re doing for the day.
Jon Orr: This is nice to hear. So you’re thinking there’s lots out here and which one is the best tool for the job, is that kind of summarizing?
Takiesha Martinez: Yes. That’s definitely summarizing.
Jon Orr: Can I ask you this Takiesha, let’s dive in a little deeper here. I want to ask you of two things. I guess I’m not sure right now which one to start with, but one is I want to get a glimpse into what your classroom looks like. Think about one of these lessons that you’re wishing you had this fix for, what did it look like before the fix happens and maybe also with that, why do you think right now you’re not doing a great job on what you want to do?
Takiesha Martinez: Okay. Well before I started using any of the resources that I have, the students would come in, they would get, I bought a curriculum off of Teachers Pay Teacher, just trying to get, making sure that I’m address all of the things that I need to address concerning the standard. And so we would go through, they take their notes, it was almost like, okay here’s examples, let’s go through the examples. And then they get more examples to complete, more problems to complete, and then our day kind of starts over again the next day. I may do an exit ticket, they would do a written response in their journals, and then the day would pretty much be over.
Takiesha Martinez: But with the new resources, I now start off with a notice and wonder. That’s something I’ve been doing more frequently in my classroom, noticing and wondering about anything. And so I try to continue that throughout the lessons. I did a recent decimals lesson on transformations, and just going through that particular lesson, I implemented, “So what do you notice about what is occurring with the shape as it’s moving across the axis?” Or if it’s turning, whatever the transformation the shape was doing at the time.
Takiesha Martinez: And so I’ve just been trying to keep the momentum going throughout the entire process of the learning for the day. Once they finish that, I give them time to collaborate with a partner on different parts of the decimals lesson, and then what happens at the time when they have to collaborate during the lesson, they don’t. They just do the assignment by themselves. So we start off really strong with collaboration and talking and everything, and when it comes to them, okay I want you to look at this particular shape and how it’s transforming, okay discuss with your partners, giving them a [inaudible 00:14:12] of what I want them to talk about, and it’s silent.
Takiesha Martinez: So I have to remind them, “Okay, collaborating with a partner is better because two minds can come up with a lot of information that you may need, and so y’all need to start talking.” And so it takes a little bit more for them to collaborate throughout the lesson and then by the time we end, they’ll do still a written response to what occurred throughout the day on exit ticket. So that’s what’s occurring now.
Kyle Pearce: Got you. So it sounds like you’ve made some pretty significant shifts from earlier, you had said sort of in the past, sounded exactly like what my lessons would’ve sounded like, right? Taking some sort of note, maybe even taking up some homework, doing a note, doing some examples, and then getting onto some practice. And it sounds like you’ve definitely incorporated some more thinking into your lessons and really to get kids talking and promoting that mathematical discourse through the notice and wonder.
Kyle Pearce: How are your students taking to when you do the notice and wonder? You were saying that the collaborations weans off over time, does it start strong even with the notice and wonder? Are they buying into that, or is there some pushback or maybe some students that are kind of like, “Okay, when are we going to get to the quote unquote, ‘real math’?” How is that working out for you so far?
Takiesha Martinez: So I have three classes. In the first class, they are the class that is somewhat reluctant to do the notice and wonder, but once we kind of get started, then they start to give me more of a notice and wonder. And in the second class, I have a combination. My algebra students take ATH and algebra, okay? It’s an academy so they take ATH and algebra throughout the day. And so because they’re in the classroom, they’re ready to go. They want to discuss, they are in it, they are fully indulged in this notice and wonder. And I get more collaboration throughout the entire time with the second group. It’s just the first group, I don’t think they are totally bought into the beginning of the notice and wonder and then when I ask them to collaborate with one another, that’s when I hear the dead silence.
Jon Orr: Do you think there are certain properties, characteristics, personalities in the second group, or friendships in the second group that allows that group to collaborate better or more frequently than the first group? Do you think it’s like a dynamic kind of thing happening in your room right now?
Takiesha Martinez: I really think it is. I’ve also been trying to do more of the, when they come in I’ll give them a card and then they’ll sit with a different partner so that they won’t be sitting with the same person every day, every time. So I’ve tried a few different things to kind of mix it up a little bit, and it’s just sometimes you get that pushback from, “Oh I don’t want to move, this is my seat. I’m just comfortable here.” I just don’t know what to do as far as trying to get them to understand that the collaboration, the things that you do at the beginning, we’re not just doing a warmup and opening up the lesson, it’s something that you should… a strategy or something that you should continue to do throughout because it helps you think.
Jon Orr: We chatted through email about this beforehand, you were trying these strategies midyear or you hadn’t started right at the beginning of the year, is that true?
Takiesha Martinez: That is true.
Jon Orr: Yes.
Takiesha Martinez: I started midyear.
Jon Orr: Right, and that’s a little tougher than say starting right off the bat with kids walking in for the first day and they get a card and they sit at random spots every day. Because I think that alone for me, because I’ve definitely had classes exactly what you’re describing where it’s one class is easy for them to collaborate and discuss and have nice shared solutions, and another class is like oh, it’s just not going to happen because when so-and-so comes in it’s like, “I’m not sitting with him because it was my ex-girlfriend and I don’t want to go hear him and…” There’s all of that right? And it’s like, “Oh, I just had an argument with that kid.” And so there’s a lot of baggage that comes in with students as you know, and especially middle school and high school, for sure.
Jon Orr: How do I deal with those students? It’s this is what we do, we’re going to sit with other people. And I think midyear when you make that switch, it’s like you just got to stick with it and you’re like [inaudible 00:18:26]. I, on my day one, explained the rationale behind it that I’m valuing not only collaboration but I give the big speech about feeling safe. We all have to feel safe in this environment, and our brains go into fight or flight when we don’t feel safe emotionally. Our brains are the same brains we had when we think back to our original ancestors from when the first Homo sapiens walked the earth, that our brains have not evolved since then. We’re the same brain as then.
Jon Orr: So we had to go fight or flight back then, and it’s like our brains do that same thing and they shut down when they feel threatened and they can’t learn. And so I tell my students this fact that you can’t learn when you are feeling threatened, so we need to feel comfortable with each other and we’re going to do that in a couple ways. One way we’re going to do that is we’re going to get to know each other more so than you sitting always with that person, because you’ll never know who’s across the room and if you don’t know who’s across the room and how many brothers and sisters they had and what they ate for breakfast, or if you don’t know them well, you cannot feel comfortable enough to share thinking out loud in front of those people.
Jon Orr: Because you feel like, hey you never know what they’re going to say about me. I don’t know them, they don’t know me, it’s scary. And having this discussion with the kids early on when you start to mix things up, we say like, “We value this, we need to feel comfortable, we have to get to know each other, so one way is we’re going to kind of randomly sit with other kids.” The other way is we’re going to be working in front of each other, like I have my students work at the boards all at the same time so it’s not like one person at the board while everyone is watching. But everyone at the same time and I think that kind of releases and gets kids to feel a little bit more comfortable with each other, and I think that consistency is super important for that kind of classroom dynamic to shift.
Jon Orr: And sometimes it takes a really long time for that to happen. I’ve gone through semesters where it’s more than half the semester, some students never come out of that shell and some students do. And I think the consistency is what kids will value in the end. They’ll see it eventually that you pushed them enough to talk about math and share math thinking that when they go to the next class, they’ll be like, “Oh, I really wish I was back in that class.”
Takiesha Martinez: Yes. The one success I can say I’ve had with trying everything that I, all the new resources is I also do the same, some of the stuff with the seventh grade students. And they love it, they love to talk, they love to discuss. And so I don’t have that type of issues when it comes to my seventh grade students, but the eighth grade, it’s more of a, “I’m pulling you.” But I’ve had the eighth graders for three years, so this is my third year having them, so just think traditionally how I’ve taught for two years with them, and now I’m trying to make a change so it’s harder for me to get them to buy in. This is the first year that I’ve had the seventh grade students, so it’s easier for them to buy into different things and change. They just think, “Oh, this is normal.”
Kyle Pearce: It’s so interesting, because as you were both chatting there and Jon was sharing that last little bit, I was thinking to myself even, and that really makes a ton of sense, having students who have had you for a long period of time and they sort of know you’re shtick, right? They’re like, “This is how things happen, and now this is different.” And I think in our minds it’s like students think like, “Okay, you are trying something new, but it’ll pass.” Right? And we do that a lot as teachers where we do try things, I would say most teachers regardless of how let’s say comfortable they are with how they’re teaching, they’re always trying news things. Sometimes it sticks and sometimes it doesn’t, and I think kids, whether they notice it explicitly or whether it’s just something happening in the background, it’s like I think they know what the comfort zone’s going to look like.
Kyle Pearce: And starting in the middle of a year can be difficult, but then also having the same group of students like you were saying, like that makes complete sense. And I’m wondering if maybe something to help with that specific piece is, for example when you’re asking them to do a notice and wonder or even a turn and talk, because there’s nothing worse than trying to let’s say ask students to turn and talk and you say, “Okay, everyone turn and talk about blank,” maybe it’s about the notice and wonder, and it’s silent. And what I’ve noticed is that if I can get more specific on what I want them to do, sometimes that can help the process.
Kyle Pearce: Do for example, if let’s say, and this happens to me a lot when I go into a new classroom because I go school to school now and I go into classrooms and I get a chance to work with students I’ve never met, sometimes I haven’t even met the teacher before, so I don’t know what that dynamic is going to be like. And if I do that and I hear that pin drop, then what I try to do is I try to get more specific about what my request was, because maybe it was too general. So for example, if I say, “I’d like you to turn and talk and share your notice and wonder,” and nothing happens, then what I’ll try next is I’ll say, “Okay, I’d like you to turn and talk and you have to share one thing you noticed and one thing you wondered.”
Kyle Pearce: So now it’s very specific and it’s sort of like most kids are like, “Oh, that’s not hard. One thing? I thought I had to share this big long list.” Or you can even do something like, “What’s something funny that you noticed or wondered right away, but you weren’t going to share with the class?” Like, “Tell one funny thing to your neighbor,” or whatever you want to do just to kind of get them to go like, “Oh, I could do that.” And I kind of lowers that floor a little bit on that comfort, right? Feeling like, “All right, this isn’t going to be difficult.” It’s almost like once you get specific enough, it’s so easy for them to accomplish that task, that now you’re one step closer to your broader goal which is I want lots of noticing and wondering to happen here.
Jon Orr: There’s another tip, Kyle, that I’ve used quite regularly now is it’s built on what you’ve just said, be very specific. I’ve even gone specific enough to give it a timeframe, so it’s like, “You have 30 seconds,” or, “You have one minute to do those.” And then I also just decide who’s going to go first, because I think that sometimes they’re like, especially if they don’t know each other well enough to be like, “Oh, I don’t really want to go first. Who’s going to go first?” So sometimes I’ll say, if there’s group of two or group of three, it’ll just be like, “Okay, you’re going to turn and talk, you got 30 seconds to do that or a minute to do that, and the person who’s going to start is the person who has the biggest hand.” They all put their hands up and they are measuring hands for 30 seconds, which is kind of an icebreaker, right?
Jon Orr: And then all of a sudden, maybe they’ll share after that or sometimes I’ll switch it up. Next time I’ll say, “Who has the most brothers or sisters,” or, “Who ate the most delicious breakfast today,” or, “Who got up the latest?” Stuff like that that they have to share something about their life outside of math class.
Kyle Pearce: Yeah, it’s like just to get the noise going in the room, right? It’s like once that silence is broken, then all of a sudden it’s like, “Ah ha, got you.” And now it’s like you’re stuck, you’re going to be noticing and wondering in no time.
Kyle Pearce: So as you move out of, let’s say that warmup, that notice and wonder and you’re moving into your lesson, how do you feel like the notice and wonder is connecting to, let’s say the bigger, broader goal of the lesson? Because if we backup to something you had shared was just about this idea of there’s so many resources out there and some are probably really exciting to try and you’re wondering where they fit, or am I using the best resource? We sort of heard that messaging there a little bit. If you’re zooming out on that lesson, how do you feel like that warmup is it connecting to your learning goal or are you feeling like it’s maybe disjointed? Or how can we learn a little bit more about that and so we can dive a little deeper here?
Takiesha Martinez: I guess when I did the notice and wonder with the transformations, I really wanted them to notice what was occurring with the actual transformation. How was it affecting the coordinates, the position of the shape on the coordinate grid. Or if I just gave them the points and we translated the actual point maybe 10 units to the left or 10 units to the right, what is actually occurring. So that’s why I sometimes start out with the notice and wonder because I want them to continue to notice what is going on throughout the entire lesson.
Takiesha Martinez: It’s just recognition, and sometimes when we just do certain things, if you just notice what’s going on and start thinking and questioning, you can question your way through maybe something, a misconception about what’s going on. So I do notice and wonder a lot because I always talk to them about how it transfers to just deeper thinking, and when you’re just doing anything. So that’s just where I was going with, okay I sometimes have to be very specific when I’m choosing warmups. Like this week I’m doing would you rather. I had never done a would you rather situation with the students, but to me it went with [inaudible 00:27:29] with populations and data that my seventh grade students are doing currently.
Takiesha Martinez: And so I was talking to them about, okay so now let’s talk about the different types of data that we’re comparing and looking at. So would you rather have this? Would you rather have? So I try to connect it as I’m going through, but I just don’t know sometimes if that’s the best way. I guess I’m not feeling very confident in myself. They seem to get it, but I’m just still questioning my judgment because this is something so new to myself.
Kyle Pearce: It sounds to me like you really like, I love the idea of leading them through questioning, and I say leading, it’s probably the wrong word for it, but guiding through the lesson through purposeful questioning which is great. I’m wondering, do you find yourself asking questions where you’re putting students in a scenario where they have to make some estimates or predictions along the way? Is that something that you would say comes out in this type of questioning? Like for example, what do you think? Like sometimes for me, rather than doing something and saying, “What do you notice?” I wonder if sometimes even that questioning of being, “Okay, I’m going to do blank, and I want you to turn and talk to your neighbor. What do you think is going to happen to blank?”
Kyle Pearce: Right, so if we’re talking about a different transformation or a translation or whatever it is that you’re doing, kind of getting them to kind of use in their minds a bit of that spacial sense. Is that something along the lines of maybe some of the questioning you might use, or maybe this is something that you might be able to add to your repertoire? Because so far, based on what I’m hearing, it sounds like your purposeful questioning sounds to be right in line with what we would want to make for a Math Moment experience for students.
Takiesha Martinez: Sometimes I will ask the students if they’re going to do an estimation, I will ask them what’s too high or what could the number not be. So we will talk about what’s too high, what’s too low, and so I kind of have them estimate a little bit with that but I’ve never asked them, “I’m going to do this, so what do you think will happen?” It’s more, I’ve only asked just that estimation piece, what would be too high or what would be too low? And I have talked to them about being riskier because some of the numbers are just just out of control.
Takiesha Martinez: And so I remember an episode that you were talking about having the kids be riskier about what their numbers. So then we talked about how can you be riskier about the number that you’re choosing and why. But I’ve never asked it in this form yet.
Kyle Pearce: And it sounds to me like you’ve got a lot of those pedagogical moves are there, and I’m wondering if maybe some of, and this is just a wonder, is maybe some of this you’re feeling like, “I’m not sure if I’m doing this as well as I could be, or maybe there would be a better way,” but something that you might, and we’ll point you to it in the show notes for everyone listening but also to you, we’ll send you an email with a link inside of the academy, we have quite a bit wrapped around the curiosity path which I feel like might be… Because we talk about the curiosity path for how to run a Math Moment or a math lesson that will create a moment for students.
Kyle Pearce: But in reality the curiosity path for us oftentimes when we think about those four pieces of the curiosity path, the idea of withholding information, this idea of creating anticipation, getting them to essentially slowly reveal that information and then give them a chance to estimate, sometimes those pieces can be really helpful as I’m guiding through a lesson to try to figure okay, have I given too much information now? Is there a way I could withhold some of this and get the kids wondering, get the kids thinking throughout so it’s not just a beginning of the lesson experience? And then also thinking of when can I throw in that opportunity for students to throw in those estimates?
Kyle Pearce: So that might be something that might be helpful. We’ll throw the cheat sheet in the show notes for those who are interested and feeling like this might be really helpful for them to guide them as they’re structuring a lesson. But then, when we think about your, if you were finishing a lesson and you’re kind of wondering to yourself like, “I wonder if this went as well as it could have.” I’m wondering, what could that learning look like or what should that learning look like if you feel like it was successful by your standards? So what it is that you’re hoping to see or experience at the end of the lesson so that you get that feeling, that sense of success, or at least that it was a positive experience for both you and the students by the end of that lesson? What would that look like or sound like for you?
Takiesha Martinez: So by the end of the lesson, I would like to see my students collaborate, making connections. Just start to make connections that maybe I might not have even thought about. The one day that I did the decimals lesson, the students went to the very next teacher who is my colleague, and they were talking about the lesson in his classroom. That’s what I would like, when I’ve affected them enough to where they are still talking about the particular lesson and what they actually did and they were able to explain it. He was a past math teacher, so he understood where they were coming from and what they were talking about. So they were able to explain it to him and tell him exactly what was going on and the connections that they made. That’s what I want them to do all the time.
Takiesha Martinez: So when I don’t have that and I feel like I am giving more information or I feel like the very next day, okay I have to squat, just swipe all of that away and just start fresh and do something else, now I feel like I’ve spent two days on this because I feel like the deeper connection was not made, I kind of go back into, okay well get your journals out, let’s do the notes. So it’s like a, if it doesn’t work out to where I think the kids should be, what do I do next? Because I don’t have a lot of time to spend on certain things. We have this timeframe that I have to have certain things taught by.
Takiesha Martinez: And so that’s a lot of pressure on me when I’m trying to make students make connections and there are some classes that need maybe two days versus one day. I might not have two or three days to give to that first lesson, and we need to move on. So that’s where I’m always stuck, is what do I do next if it doesn’t work for me at all?
Jon Orr: [crosstalk 00:34:19] These are good wonders, good things to think about for sure. What I’m hearing is it comes down to a lot of the pre-planning that has to happen in the lesson in a couple ways that leads to a consolidation at the end of your lesson. What at the end of the lesson, what are you hoping the kids have gained? And usually when I start planning a lesson, that’s the first thing that I start thinking about. So okay, what is my learning goal here today? What do I want them to walk away with? And then you could use that imagery that you just said, they’re going to walk into so-and-so’s class and they’re going to describe to him what they’ve learned, and it was awesome, and it was not only engaging but it was fun, and they learned a lot.
Jon Orr: And if we take that as our success, then how do we get there in that one hour? Or what do you have, 45 minutes, or?
Takiesha Martinez: I usually have an hour.
Jon Orr: So the idea is we have to think about the consolidation piece and how do I even get there, and that all start with before we even sit down to think about that lesson. And there’s a lot to think about, like what task am I going to use? How can I make sure that by the end they’re going to reach that learning goal? And I think sometimes that comes down to experience, it comes down to timing, for example there’s been times where I’ve planned something and it was not going the way I had hoped, and I knew that I needed to get the learning goal tied up by the end of that time because like you said, we are crunched for time.
Jon Orr: You know that phrase that we’ve said here lots on the podcast, lots of times that that Dan Meyer has used, it’s like if math is the asprin, what’s the headache? Sometimes those tasks that we create or those activities that we put out kids into, part of it is having them experience the struggle. And that’s part of the noticing and wondering too, it’s like I notice that this technique was really hard or this strategy just didn’t work out the way I wanted it to. And sometimes having our students go through that part where they have to decide what to do, and maybe they’re doing it at the walls and maybe you’ve asked them to share with each other, but at the end if we’re not getting there, we have to kind of get there.
Jon Orr: So sometimes that’s where we step in, like you step in or I step in at that moment and say, “We talked about this strategy and we’re going to connect it over to this strategy, but this is the strategy that maybe no one else, that didn’t come out.” And you thought, “Hey, I anticipated it, it should come out, these are the big ideas that we wanted to pop out of here at this lesson. They didn’t do it, the kids didn’t notice it, they didn’t share it, we didn’t connect it over here from this strategy and this strategy that these two groups were doing, it just didn’t come out.”
Jon Orr: So this is the part where I step in and say, “These are great strategies,” and I’m going to show this strategy and what I really want to make sure I do is show that it connects to the strategy that they did so that they can see that all this math is connected, which is a beautiful thing. But I do get say that strategy or that learning goal out before they walk out that door and make sure that we’ve done a little bit of practice in there. So I try to structure that lesson from start to end thinking about yeah, I got to make sure the learning goal gets out.
Jon Orr: And you know what? Again, if by the end of the lesson, if you’ve done your exit ticket or you still feel like hey, they didn’t get enough, that’s where you decide, do I do the pivot, pivot meaning like I don’t proceed with what I was supposed to do the next day, do I have to pivot back and revisit? And maybe that’s putting them back into another struggle kind of scenario where they have to maybe practice a little bit. So I think it kind of comes down to a lot of planning up at front, but really planning out what you want the learning goal of that lesson to look like.
Jon Orr: So Kyle and I have said this before, it kind of doesn’t matter a lot about which resource we’re going to pick, it really matters about the learning goal and then how you use the resource to get to the end goal.
Kyle Pearce: And Jon, I just wanted to add on there, that was really well said and something that I’ve seen happening a lot, and I’m not suggesting that’s the case here, but it could be happening because I know it was happening for me, was this pressure to incorporate everything. So I heard you mention visual patterns before and would you rather, and I’m sure there’s all the others that are out there that were all like, “Wow, these are amazing resources. I want to incorporate them into my lesson someway, somehow.” But in reality, what tends to happen or what I’ve seen happen in many cases is that it’s like an add-on.
Kyle Pearce: So it’s like, “I’m going to do, let’s say a notice and wonder at the beginning of my lesson,” but then that notice and wonder specifically didn’t serve the purpose for today’s learning goal, or let’s say it was estimation 180. I pick a cool estimation 180 and don’t get me wrong, estimation something we need to do, students need to be doing this, but does that specific estimation 180 task, does it serve the goal for the day or is that some time that I’ve now dedicated to something that’s maybe disjointed from today’s lesson or today’s overall learning objective? When maybe what I could’ve done was, had I thought of what I would do for my warmup to incorporate it leading into that task that’s going to make students bump into that new learning, can I do an estimate in that process versus it being a separate idea, like I’m going to go estimate this over here and then we’re going to do this other thing to now get to today’s learning goal.
Kyle Pearce: So for me, I know for a long time I was like I wanted to put all these different warmup routines into my lesson, but then I realized, I’m like, “I could do what these warmup routines are doing, but connect it to today’s lesson, today’s big idea or today’s learning goal.” So that might be a way that you might be able to sneak some more of that time so that you don’t feel that pressure at the end of a lesson when you’re going, “Oh, gosh. I’m looking at the clock, I’m not where I wanted it to be, how am I going to connect this at the end and help students to see what’s going on?”
Kyle Pearce: And I find that if we reflect on what those lessons used to look like, so I picture my lessons where I did a note and I had kids copy examples. If I was to boil that note down to what was the big thing I wanted kids to walk away from? And I think of how I can create that task, that experience, or find that task, but sometimes it just comes down to creating a scenario where students bump into that learning, and then at the end I get to kind of take what’s the most important part that I was giving those students in that more traditional note, that more traditional lecture style? And if I could take that and provide that for them at the end of this activity, it’s way more low floor because kids have experienced that task, that experience, prior to me going and actually sort of consolidating that learning with them.
Kyle Pearce: So those are some of the things that kind of pop into my mind right now. I’m wondering if we turn it back to you, are there any things, any ideas from this conversation that have kind of resonated with you? Maybe a takeaway that you might want to do some more thinking on, or things that you want to think about as we wrap today’s episode up and we carry on to reflect and try things over and over again, and go through that learning cycle?
Takiesha Martinez: Well, some things that I wrote down, definitely going to look more into the planning goal and specifically question myself daily on what exactly am I expecting the students to learn from the lesson of the day. And then specifically looking at how the warmup connects with everything that they’re doing for the day instead of just randomly choosing a lot of things because I’m trying to get the kids to experience so many things in half of a year. I also wrote down to, I like the way you talked about how to determine which students would go first, who has the biggest hand, who has the longest hair, so that’s something that I could incorporate.
Takiesha Martinez: And putting a timeframe on a discussion. Usually, I play music when I want them to discuss, and so they know when the music comes on, this is the time I need y’all to start talking to one another. And even over the music, there is sometimes silence. Then I will stop the music, but sometimes there’s just not a rhyme or reason to the time that I stop it. I start kind of trying to go around and listen to see, to hear what they’re talking about, and then when I feel like they’ve gotten to a point where maybe they’ve shared enough with their partner or the discussion has kind of come to a calm, then I will stop the music and then we continue.
Takiesha Martinez: So maybe putting a timeframe on that will help with what I’m trying to do for the day. And being more specific when I’m asking the students to do certain things. That definitely is going to help me so that it’s not such a broad discussion and it’s more specific, and that they’ll know exactly what I’m asking them to talk about.
Jon Orr: There’s lots of takeaways there for you it sounds like, and we would be honored to check back in with you a little later, maybe six months or next year, and see how some of these changes that you’re going to take, these takeaways and how you’re going to implement them and how it goes. Would you like to come back on with us in say a year and chat with us again about what’s changed and what’s stayed the same?
Takiesha Martinez: Definitely, because I’m very interested in how I want to plan out my year. So I want to come up with some type of, not a template but just a process that I use so that I’m ready for the next year. So I will definitely be interested in coming back and discussing how my year is going as I’m implementing some more items from the resources that I have.
Kyle Pearce: Awesome, awesome. That is fantastic to hear, and as you are an academy member, I’m going to urge you to take some of those notes that you’ve jotted down and add those to your progress log in the community area so that those, first of all this episode won’t go live for a weeks’ time, so give the other academy members an opportunity to kind of see where you’re at and where your head is at so that now we can get that whole academy kind of behind some of this problem of practice. Because as we know, everybody is listening right now thinking, “Huh, I have a lot of those same problems that I’m really trying to overcome.” So it’s always best if we can do that as a community, and the Math Moment Maker community inside the academy is a great place to do that.
Kyle Pearce: So definitely, we look forward to checking in with you there in between, and then hopefully we can bring you back on and we can chat about it on a future episode. So thanks so much for hanging out with us, we really appreciate it, I know all the listeners appreciate it. And we’re hoping that you have an awesome night and enjoy the remainder of this school year.
Takiesha Martinez: Thank you so much, this has definitely been an awesome experience.
Jon Orr: Thanks so much, Takiesha. Take care.
Takiesha Martinez: Thank you.
Kyle Pearce: As always, both Jon and I learned so much from these Math Mentoring Moment episodes, but in order to ensure we hang onto this new learning so it doesn’t wash away like footprints in the sand, we must reflect on what we’ve learned. Takiesha is going to go and reflect on her learning by updating her progress log inside the Make Math Moments academy. How will you reflect on what you’ve learned here with us today?
Jon Orr: A great way to hold yourself accountable is to also write it down, and even better share it with someone you know and trust. That’s your partner, colleagues at work, or with a member of the Math Moment Maker community, by commenting on the show notes page or tagging us at Make Math Moments on social media. Or hit up the free private Facebook group, Math Moment Makers K through 12.
Kyle Pearce: Are you interested in joining us for an upcoming Math Mentoring Moment episode where you can share a big math class struggle or problem of practice? Apply over at makemathmoments.com/mentor. That’s makemathmoments.com/mentor.
Jon Orr: In order to ensure you don’t miss out on new episodes as they come out each week, smash that subscribe button on your favorite podcast platform and leave us a quick rating and review.
Kyle Pearce: Show notes and links to resources from this episode can be found at makemathmoments.com/episode70. Again, that’s makemathmoments.com/episode70. Well, until next time, I’m Kyle Pearce.
Jon Orr: And I’m Jon Orr.
Kyle Pearce: High fives for us.
Jon Orr: And high fives for you.
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