Thinking Strategies in Math

A book that I got last year and read and loved has been pulled out again for a reread…I am not sure if I blogged about it last year, but if I didn’t–I should have.  This book is a must read for anyone trying to break away from their whole-class math instruction and looking for ways to move to a more workshop approach.

Now that I have my workshop up and running a little, I figure it’s a great time to reread the book and see if I can read it with a new lens this time.  I thought I would share with you information from a page from the book (p. 27) that in and of itself is worth buying the book!  In my opinion, the “thinking strategies” outlined in this part of the book could be game changers for people wanted to make a shift in how they teach math.  We have been really good over the years at trying to get students to think more deeply in reading and writing, and the time is NOW to do the same for math.

So…the author of “Minds On Mathematics” has connected to the research synthesis conducted by David Pearson in literacy and has applied it to the math classroom.  The argument?  That these strategies work for readers and will ALSO work for mathematicians!  Consider the following  proven strategies and how they might apply to math class:

  • asking questions…working to deepen understanding by asking questions about a concept
  • determining importance…deciding what information is relevant and significant
  • drawing on background knowledge…determining what information is known and how it can help us make sense of new information
  • inferring…drawing conclusions based on the information provided
  • making mental models…finding a variety of ways to represent information, ideas, and solutions
  • monitoring for meaning…using “fix it” strategies when things aren’t going well and knowing to proceed when things ARE on track
  • synthesizing…developing deeper understanding over time
Are we explicitly teaching these strategies in our math class?  If not–don’t you think it’s about time we do?  This text is a perfect complement to the Standards for Mathematical Practice and deserve our careful consideration when planning our units and lessons.  I’m going to go read a little more and will blog about it later!