Middle school math teachers have a challenge—they need to help students become mathematical thinkers who truly understand concepts and don’t just memorize. One way we recommend doing this is by using the new Standards for Mathematical Practice (SMP) to help students build a foundation of thinking and communicating math. We find it most helpful to think of the standards as a door.
A door cannot function without a frame. The frame is the support system that holds the door in place. The two SMP that serve as the frame of the door are: (SMP #1)Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them; and (SMP #5) Use appropriate tools strategically.
The threshold is another integral part of a door. The function of the threshold is to provide a transition between the inside and the outside or between rooms. (SMP #6) Attend to precision, serves as the threshold for the SMP doorway to the Common Core math standards. It is through precise and effective communication that students are able to gain insights about how they think about mathematics.
The remaining standards, (SMP #2) Reason abstractly and quantitatively; (SMP #3) Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others; (SMP #4) Model with mathematics; (SMP #7) Look for and make use of structure; and (SMP #8) Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning serve as the panels of the door.
The key to unlocking the door is to be deliberate and intentional in the implementation of these standard practices. It is one thing to say the SMP are embedded in daily instruction. It is another to actually seamlessly interweave the mathematical practices with content instruction. read more…