I had the privilege this past Thursday and Friday attending the joint BCSTA/BCSSA Conference at the Vancouver Convention Center. The plenary speakers, Ben Levin, David Hargreaves, Daniel Wilson and Andreas Schleicher, were excellent and provided much food for thought.
I was honored to be on the program to share a session I called “Adding it All Up: Mathematics for the 21st Century Learner”. One of my main points is that since mathematics is “a science of pattern and order” (as quoted from Everybody Counts), we ought to be seeing the verbs associated with science happening in the mathematics classroom. The BC mathematics curriculum ties mathematical processes with every single learning outcome K-12. Theses seven processes should be visible in our classrooms:
- mental math and estimation
- problem solving
I feel strongly about these processes and contend that understanding “lives” in the processes. Many students do algorithmic calculations daily but do not understand the underlying mathematical concepts. How do they come to deep understanding (one of the four “deeps” we heard about at the conference)? In math, that happens as students muddle through problems applying what they know to figure out what they do not know. It is sometimes messy and complicated, but it is the only way. As Schifter & Fosnot say, “No matter how lucidly and patiently teachers explain to their students, they cannot understand for their students.”
Many thanks to all those who came to my session and filled the room to explore mathematics with me. As I ran out of the handouts, I am making them available for downloading here. Feel free to contact me if you have questions or comments.