Twitter Tasting Menu – October 2020

Each month I share a selection of articles, blog posts, and/or videos that caught my attention over the past month. If a resource resonates with you, all I ask is that you share it with at least one other colleague. Help spread the learning!

Using CGI in Remote and Socially Distanced Classrooms – Part 1: Posing Problems

Back in September, Linda Levi started writing a thoughtful series of blog posts to support teachers as they plan and facilitate remote learning. In this first post, she focuses on problem posing and includes the following suggestions for remote learning and/or socially distanced classrooms:

  1. Ensure that the students understand the context of the problem.
  2. Take time to ensure students understand the problem.
  3. Start with problems that students haven’t been taught procedures for.
  4. Don’t make the problem too easy.
  5. Give students time to solve the problem.
Tanya Blais films a video and poses a math problem to her students using a context that is familiar to them. “Consider situating problems in contexts that students already understand whether you pose the problems to students in a video, verbally, on a piece of paper or in an electronic document.”

Excerpt to whet your appetite:

“I have no magic solution to turn teaching in 2020-21 to a task with a similar level of challenge as teaching in 2019. However, the essential elements of good teaching right now are the same as they were in 2019. Teaching is, and has always been, a problem-solving endeavor. I recommend that you identify the essential elements of your teaching before you begin problem solving about how to improve your teaching in a remote and/or socially distanced classroom.

Using CGI in Remote and Socially Distanced Classrooms – Part 2: Observing Students as They Solve Problems

This is the second post in Linda Levi‘s series on supporting teachers as they plan and facilitate remote learning. In this post, she shares suggestions for observing students while they work:

  1. Students angle their webcams so that you can see their work space.
  2. Students record their problem solving using Google Slides.
  3. Students record their problem solving using Google Jamboard.
Teacher view SRU problem google slide.png
Observing students while they work in Google Slides. “Each slide has a hand outlined in red that students can enlarge and/or move to the center of their slide to get your attention.”

In addition to giving lots of visual examples, she also shares Google Slide and Google Jamboard templates that you can download and adapt for your students. She also breaks down the benefits and challenges for each suggestion. It’s not about any one way being correct. Rather, it’s about mindful decision making.

Excerpt to whet your appetite:

“No tools are perfect in every situation. Even the most basic tools that we use in our face-to-face classrooms can sometimes interfere with students’ thinking. (For example, students may use base ten blocks because they like them even when they are ready for more abstract strategies.) As with all tools, watch carefully to see how your students are using these templates to determine if they are helpful to developing your students’ understanding.”

K-5 Curriculum Design Features that Support Equity and Inclusion

In this blog post from Dionne Aminata, she echoes Linda Levi’s assertion that we should consider situating problems in contexts students understand or can relate to. (If Dionne’s name sounds familiar, you may remember her from last month’s Twitter Tasting Menu where I shared her work with #BlackWomenRockMath.)

Dionne shares two ways in which the Illustrative Mathematics K-5 curriculum team has intentionally designed their curriculum to “support efforts to mitigate inequities in math education.

In particular, she shares the team’s efforts to include more cultural content into their curriculum in order to include all students. This is an important consideration when crafting and posing problems to students.

Excerpt to whet your appetite:

“A significant amount of research was involved in creating this task, even though, as an avid student of West African dance, I have plenty of personal experience buying African wax print fabric to make lapas and head wraps. Not only did Zack and I learn a lot throughout the writing process, but we found comfort in knowing that students across the country would have a window into African culture, and experience it in a positive and mathematical way.”

Guidance for Parents to Help Their Children Learn Mathematics

While teaching remotely has its share of challenges for teachers, it also poses a challenge for parents who are supporting their children at home. This challenge, however, can be a great opportunity for teachers to form powerful partnerships with parents. This post from Teaching is Problem Solving shares 9 valuable tips from Claire Riddell and Laura Steele that teachers can share with parents to help them help their children learn math at home. The tips are organized by:

  1. Three Things to Consider
  2. Three Questions to Ask
  3. Three Things to Try (When Your Child Seems Stuck)

Don’t miss the link at the end of the post where you can download these 9 tips in a one-page PDF that can be shared with parents.

Excerpt to whet your appetite:

“Children often think if you ask them a question about how they solve a problem, it indicates their answer is wrong. Asking, “How did you know to do that?” encourages children to share their reasoning and thinking. Get in the habit of asking questions often so your child knows that explaining themselves is just a part of doing math.”

Strengths-Based Mathematics Learning: A Tool Kit for Families

Another resource I came across this month that teachers will want to share with parents is this strengths-based toolkit shared by Beth Kobett and Karen Karp, authors of the book Strengths-Based Teaching and Learning in Mathematics: Five Teaching Turnarounds for Grades K-6. This toolkit was especially developed for parents who are helping their children learn in new ways during hybrid and remote learning.

Excerpt to whet your appetite:

“We believe that each and every child, person for that matter, possesses mathematics learning strengths. We know that leveraging children’s strengths to address their challenges is more successful than focusing on their weaknesses. Let’s work together to uncover and nurture your child’s mathematical strengths (maybe yours too!). Children need families to invest time in using their areas of strength to build bridges to those areas that need support and attention. We promise you that your children will flourish with a new emphasis on mathematical strengths.”

Bonus learning opportunity! Beth Kobett presented about strengths-based teaching at Global Math Department. You can watch her full session below.

Explore teaching turnaround strategies that can reframe and open up students’ mathematical learning opportunities. Learn to identify and leverage students’ strengths to develop powerful and strategic learning moments that recognize and bolster students’ strengths to build mathematical success.

Make a Collection of Worked Examples for Your Classes

In this blog post from Michael Pershan, he shares how he’s collecting worked examples for his students to study. If you’re not familiar with the power of worked examples, also known as example-problem pairs, check out this recommendation from the Institute for Education Science’s practice guide Organizing Instruction and Study to Improve Student Learning:

Recommendation 2: Interleave worked example solution and problem-solving exercises.

When teaching mathematical or science problem solving, we recommend that teachers interleave worked example solutions and problem-solving exercises—literally alternating between worked examples demonstrating one possible solution path and problems that the student is asked to solve for himself or herself—because research has shown that this interleaving markedly enhances student learning.

How to Make Worked Examples Work

If you want to learn more from Michael about how to effectively design your own worked examples and/or how to facilitate them effectively for maximum learning with your students, check out his earlier blog post. Here’s a brief rundown of the advice he shares for designing examples on your own:

  1. Try to put everything in one place…
  2. …but also try to visibly separate different steps.
  3. Switch up correct examples with incorrect work.
  4. Ask kids to explain what’s going on.
  5. Ask kids to try it on their own.
Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 2.59.49 PM
Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 3.03.50 PM.png
“It’s useful…to switch up correct with incorrect examples.”

And here are the steps to the routine Michael uses to facilitate studying worked examples with his students:

  1. Get ready
  2. Read
  3. Discuss
  4. Explain
  5. You Try
Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 3.23.04 PM.png
Check out AlgebraByExample and MathByExample (Grades 4 & 5) for some ready-made tasks.

Excerpt to whet your appetite:

“Example analysis works especially well as a feedback routine. There was a problem that kids especially had trouble with? Write an example that focuses on how to improve, and then follow the routine with some time to revise and improve the quizzes (or a re-quiz, or etc.).”


That’s it for this month’s Twitter Tasting Menu. If one or more of these resources resonated with you, please share the learning with colleagues at your campus or beyond. I am sure there are others who will appreciate it as much as you did. We are all better together!

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