# What is Math in Practice?

“What is Math in Practice?” We get that a lot. It might be more important to first talk about why Math in Practice.

Sometimes we look back to the “good old days” of teaching math with rose-colored glasses. But did everyone learn and love mathematics in those classrooms? What do you remember about math class when you were the student? What was a typical assignment? What did your classroom look like and sound like? As I listen to teachers across the country, I am struck by the similarity of their experiences as they recall:

• lots of memorizing
• long worksheets
• silent practice
• a teacher telling how to do it
• one right answer
• one way to get the answer
• no group work
• no manipulatives.

We know that one of the biggest changes in the teaching of math is a new definition of proficiency. Computation skills are still important, but it takes more than that. We want our students to understand why math works.

# Heinemann Fellow Katie Charner-Laird on Empowering Choice in a Math Workshop

In this research journey, where I have been trying to map successful literacy workshop practices onto a math workshop, I have been considering the element of choice a great deal. From a very young age, children are taught how to select “just-right books.” The emphasis is on choice. Choice matters because it increases engagement. Choice matters because it encourages ownership. Choice matters because when our children leave us, we need them to continue choosing to read whether we are there or not. We teach them to choose books so that they will continue to choose books for their entire lives.

# In Math, Context is Critical

Today's math teachers have a lot to balance. From following the Standards for Mathematical Practice, to incorporating real-life application into math problems, to finding resources that are flexible enough to meet a range of students' needs.

Cathy Fosnot's Contexts for Learning Mathematics is a rigorous K-6 classroom resource that uses a workshop environment to bring the Standards for Mathematical Practice to life. Rich, authentic contexts provide a backdrop for fostering the use of mathematical models as thinking tools, tenacious problem solving, and the reading and writing of mathematical arguments and justifications to ensure the development of a positive growth mindset.

# How the Standards for Mathematical Practice Support Teachers

How can we break the cycle of frustrated students who “drop out of math” because the procedures just don’t make sense to them? Or who memorize the procedures for the test but don’t really understand the mathematics? Max Ray and his colleagues at the Math Forum @ Drexel University say “problem solved,” by offering their collective wisdom about how students become proficient problem solvers, through the lens of the CCSS for Mathematical Practices. They unpack the process of problem solving in fresh new ways and turn the Practices into activities that teachers can use to foster habits of mind required by the Common Core.

# The Role of Community in Math

Today's math teachers have a lot to balance. From following the Standards for Mathematical Practice, to incorporating real-life application into math problems, to finding resources that are flexible enough to meet a range of students' needs.

Cathy Fosnot's Contexts for Learning Mathematics is a rigorous K-6 classroom resource that uses a workshop environment to bring the Standards for Mathematical Practice to life. Rich, authentic contexts provide a backdrop for fostering the use of mathematical models as thinking tools, tenacious problem solving, and the reading and writing of mathematical arguments and justifications to ensure the development of a positive growth mindset.

# What Makes Math Intimidating for Teachers?

Raising students’ math achievement doesn’t mean ripping up your planning book and starting over. In Accessible Mathematics Steven Leinwand shows how small shifts in the good teaching you already do can make a big difference in student learning. Thoroughly practical and ever-aware of the limits of teachers’ time, Steve gives you everything you need to put his commonsense ideas to use immediately.

In this video, Steve talks about the intimidation that mathematics gives teachers when they are accustomed to simply knowing how to get the right answer, and how to combat it. He states: "the issue of intimidation is a natural tension when you know you're being asked to do things that you're not prepared to do."