At CCA, we want students and parents to feel confident in doing math. Our math mindset (how we feel about math) affects the way we view our progress and ability. Therefore, a large focus of our math curriculum is our students’ attitudes towards math. Our mathematical mindset is partly developed by our past history with math.Melissa Conklin (Logic School Math Teacher and Instructional Facilitator), Candace Lambert (4th Grade Math teacher), and I recently met with 3rd and 4th grade parents to explain CCA’s Math curriculum. We started the meeting with this question, “What is your mathematical mindset?”
Inspired by this question at the Math Parent Meeting, I recently asked my 3rd graders to explain their feelings about math. I encouraged them to share what they like, dislike, and how they get help, if needed.
Some of their comments included:
“I love math! It is very easy to me.” “I like the math story problems.”
“I think math is very fun because the math games are fun.” “I am confident in math.”
“I think math is so much fun, but sometimes it can be hard.”
“I feel like I am getting the help I need for math.”
“Sometimes, if it is hard, you can do number bonds.”
“This is true, (I’m not saying it to be nice) I would rather do math than recess.”
“I like math because it is fun and challenging.”
I was surprised that several of my students who have been close to tears during math lessons, expressed they really enjoy math. Many students also commented they receive help from parents and like the special math time at home.
CCA desires for all the students to feel that they can do math. We want a culture in our school that celebrates the gift of mathematics. In our society it is not uncommon to hear grown adults jokingly say, “I can’t do math.” We would never hear anyone jokingly say they can’t read. Our desire is for our students to feel empowered to be able to DO MATH.
Math In Focus, CCA’s math curriculum, is based on Singapore’s influential and successful curriculum. In the past, these ideas have been implemented by others as well, but Singapore’s math success has made conceptual math even more prevalent among educators.
At CCA we implement problem solving (word problems) throughout each unit. In addition, we often assign open-ended problems with several different possible answers. Questions like these help challenge gifted math students while giving struggling students much needed practice with equations.
During the Math Parent Meeting, we shared three key components of Singapore Math:
- Concrete, Pictorial, and Abstract Approach (CPA): Students work with concrete objects such as base ten blocks, learn how to draw pictures and model, and also learn the abstract traditional algorithms – most likely how parents were taught math.
- Model Drawing in Problem Solving: At the 3rd and 4th grade level, students multiply using area models. They use number bonds to understand mental math, and bar models to help them visualize and solve word problems. Even when students may not need a drawing to solve a problem, this method helps them show their thinking and it develops number sense.
- Mental Math: Students are given class time (particularly during EveryDay Counts Calendar Math time) to practice and develop efficient mental math strategies.
The way we do math looks different than how I was taught, but I realize that my students are developing deep number sense and learning to persevere through the challenging problems. After reading their comments, I think they might realize this, too.