I am currently writing a book on how to create a math community in your classroom. About a year ago I was talking with a friend about wanting to stay in math education but move out of the classroom. They said; "You should write a book about your 32 years in the classroom." I looked at them like they were crazy. Me? An author? But I started and now 146 pages of a word document has turned into Math Communities; Creating a classroom of equity through engagement and agency. (Just the working title at this time) Below is the introduction to my book and I think the reason for me wanting more of a community feeling in the classroom.
When I was in high school math class in the early 1980s, students sat in rows of desks facing the front of the classroom. The amount of discourse and collaboration between students was limited by this seating arrangement. I remember that students in front of me would turn around or I would turn around to the students behind me and that was how we did group work.
Luckily, for me as a teacher and my students, things have changed over the last 35 years. We have come to find out as teachers that our students need to talk to each other and collaborate to solve problems. This collaboration and discourse allow students to explain their thinking and respond to other’s thinking as they work through problems.
When it comes to problems, we are no longer working 20,30 or even 40 of the same type of problem like we did 35 years ago. Students are working rich, multi-entry problems that show more than just their understanding of the math standard the class may be working on. These often, open-ended problems bring together several standards and require students to recall background knowledge to be successful problem solvers.