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Teachers Anticipate Unfinished Learning


Traci Theis

Senior Program Coordinator

Imagine bringing four teachers, who have never met, together to discuss math.  These teachers are from different districts, different experiences, and different backgrounds. They had never met each other in any capacity or scenario.

However, they do have one thing in common, a deep desire to teach and nurture their students be successful learners of mathematics. We began to meet at the beginning of the school year and continue to meet ever six to eight weeks, as time allows.

Through our Collaborative Learning Team, this group of 4th-grade teachers explored, discussed, learned and engaged with the CA Math Standards through their curriculum resources, the California Frameworks, the Coherence Map, and Illustrative Mathematics .

""As you can imagine, FRACTIONS became a central focus of our discussions.  Well, I took this opportunity to propose we, 1) familiarize ourselves with the different meanings of fractions and 2) what do the standards/targets say about fractions and the expectation of student learning for 4th grade as well as 3rd.

Once we began to focus on the 3rd grade standards, the teachers were wondering how to engage their students with what they understand and remember from the previous year, and I said, “Let’s find out! How about we find a task that can help us determine where you may need to go with your teaching as you introduce grade level targets and standards.?”

This is when we began to explore the Coherence Map, and Illustrative Mathematics . The teachers decided they wanted to know, “What do they remember from 3rd-grade fractions in relation to geometry?”  The teachers chose the halves, thirds and sixths ""task from Illustrative Mathematics and agreed to administer the task to their students and bring back the student work to analyze and determine what the next steps might be.  

The deepest and richest conversation happened when we started anticipating student responses and the thinking behind those responses. I was honored to be a part of this conversation and planning opportunity. I couldn’t wait to find out how it went, what they observed and to see the student work!

I know you are just as excited as I was to find out, as well…. and I’ll fill you in next time! I’ll share the process and decisions that were made to move students forward in their unfinished learning and some unexpected surprises in the student work.

In the meantime, here is the plan that the teachers came up with for this formative learning process. Let me know if you have any questions or comments!  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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