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Laying the Foundation for Critical Thinking in Math

Math Station2 adding 2 dice

“Environments rich in mathematical opportunities for children are essential if we want our children to develop a thorough understanding of mathematics.”  -Laney Sammons

Evidence has shown that our nation has been struggling with mathematical literacy.  We have many children who just don’t “get it” and it is time to make a change in the instructional process.  We know that children learn best through authentic and meaningful experiences and our job is to help these young mathematicians build a strong foundation as critical thinkers and problem solvers.  This new school year is the perfect opportunity to create classrooms rich in quality mathematical opportunities.

Laney Sammons’ Guided Math provides us with the tools for creating an environment of mathematical understanding that will help build competent mathematical thinkers.  Here are the foundational principles of a Guided Math classroom:

All children can learn mathematics.  It is our responsibility to challenge our students, help them make meaningful connections that enhance learning, and build their thinking skills.  When the learning is meaningful, there is a greater feeling of success, and that leads to a greater interest in math.  As the interest grows, so do students’ capabilities.  Research shows that belief about learning is directly related to performance, so we want our children to know they are math capable.

A numeracy-rich environment promotes mathematical learning by students.  Just as a literacy rich environment promotes reading and writing skills, an environment rich in numeracy promotes greater mathematical understanding.

Learning at its best is a social process.  Daily math discussions allow students and teachers to communicate about math practices, share strategies, critique thinking, and build deeper understanding about concepts.  “Learning is enhanced” as we work together.

Learning mathematics is a constructive process.  As children learn concepts, processes, strategies, and math vocabulary, they build mathematical literacy.  “They are constructing an understanding of what it really means to be a mathematician – to organize and interpret their world through a mathematical lens.”

An organized classroom environment supports the learning process.  A classroom where expectations are established, materials are ready, and time is used effectively, supports the building of mathematical understanding.

Modeling and think-alouds, combined with ample opportunities for guided and independent problem solving and purposeful conversations, create a learning environment in which students’ mathematical understanding grows.  We are responsible for creating a risk-free environment in which our students can learn and thrive.

Ultimately, students are responsible for their learning.  We are responsible for creating the environment of numeracy where students can learn, but they must choose to actively engage in the learning experience to truly grow.

If our goal is to prepare our students to be competent world citizens who are lifelong learners, we must help lay the ground work for critical thinking.  The foundations for the Guided Math framework are the foundations for creating critical math thinkers in our classrooms.  We need to provide daily opportunities to practice problem solving, develop systematic processes, broaden vocabulary, analyze thinking, and make connections that make math meaningful.  The Guided Math framework helps us to open the door, so that our young mathematicians can take charge of their own thinking and thrive.

You can find out more about the Guided Math framework here:  http://www.guidedmath.org/

Interested in Guided Math resources?  Click here:  https://www.myedresource.com/shop/

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