I’m baack! A rough year makes for a terrible blogger,
and that’s all I’m going to say about that.
I’m thrilled to report that I’ve moved on, I’m happy to be back, and I’m
getting ready for what I hope will be a terrific school year.
I have been enjoying summer
immensely as it has allowed me to catch up on my reading.
I’ve been reading both for pleasure and
professional development.
I thought I’d
take this opportunity to join in on a blogging book study (late to the party,
of course
J) and link up with
A Teacher Mom.
I have just finished reading the
first chapter of Laney Sammons’ book Building Mathematical Comprehension. Math literacy is at the heart of this book,
and it is defined by OECD (the Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development) as:
“an individual’s capacity to
identify and understand the role that mathematics plays in the world, to make
wellfounded judgments, and to use and engage with mathematics in ways that
meet the needs of that individual’s life as a constructive, concerned and
reflective citizen” (p. 19).
Sammons contends that the skills
necessary to be literate in reading are the same skills that pave the way to
math success. She demonstrates these
similarities for us as readers in her book on page 22 (reproduced here for your
convenience).
Characteristics of Good
Readers

Characteristics of Good
Mathematicians

They call upon their prior knowledge to make meaning from text.

They call upon prior knowledge to
understand concepts and solve problems.

They are fluent readers.

They are procedurally fluent.

They have a mental image of what they are reading.

They create multiple
representations of mathematics concepts and problems.

They use multiple strategies to understand and interpret text.

They use multiple strategies to understand concepts and solve
problems.

They monitor their understanding as they read.

They monitor their understanding
as they solve problems.

They can clearly explain their interpretation of the text to others.

They can clearly explain their mathematical thinking to
others.

According to Sammons, readers (and thus,
mathematicians) draw upon four kinds of knowledge as they read, including:
knowledge about text content, knowledge about text structure, pragmatic
knowledge, and knowledge about the social/situational context.
I found this paragraph in the chapter particularly interesting:
There is a
widespread tendency of people to excuse a lack of success
in
mathematics because of a belief that it is a matter of inherent talent
rather than
lack of effort. Because of this, the
National Mathematics
Advisory
Panel (2008) recommends that educational leaders help
students and
parents recognize the effect of effort on mathematics
achievement”
(p. 27).
In this chapter, Sammons previews the reading/math strategies
she will discuss in the remainder of her book (adapted from Keene and
Zimmerman, Mosaic of Thought, 2007):
·
Making connections
·
Asking questions
·
Visualizing
·
Making inferences
·
Determining importance
·
Synthesizing, and
·
Monitoring meaning
Sammons lays out a sixstep process of explicit instruction,
stating that students are much more likely to apply these comprehension
strategies to mathematics if we show them exactly how to do so. Those steps are:
1.
Teacher explains what the strategy is.
2.
Teacher explains why the strategy is important.
3.
Teacher explains when to use the strategy.
4.
Teacher models
how to perform the strategy in an actual context while students observe.
5.
Teacher guides
students as they practice using the strategy, and
6.
Students independently
use the strategy.
After reading this first chapter, I cannot wait to really get
into this book. It is
looking
like it might be a better read than I even expected. Since I know that I will have many ELLs in my
class and my campus is really focusing on academic vocabulary this year, I am really looking forward to reading the
second chapter, “Recognizing and Understanding Mathematical Vocabulary.”
That’s it for now. I hope to be back soon with more to
share.