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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Teachers Who Focus on Student Thinking

One of my Master's students (a first-year math teacher) recently mentioned how daunting it is to think about shifting one's classroom away from teacher-led lecture and rule/procedure following to an approach that promotes and builds on student thinking generated through inquiry and problem solving. One of her concerns is that only a minority of teachers seems to be working toward such a shift so it would be hard to find folks with whom to collaborate. In addition to connecting her with some local teachers I know who are doing such work, I decided to search for blogs that offer examples of teachers sharing their successes and challenges as they make such shift as a way to encourage my student (and others) to jump in. Here is a sampling of what's out there. If you find the ideas useful, be sure to engage with the bloggers/teachers to let them know and make a connection.  You're definitely not alone in this transition!
  • The Pi Crust blog offers ideas and insights from an experienced middle school math teacher, Ms. Krasnow. She's got a ton of great activities and strategies that engage students in reasoning and developing understanding.
  • Middle school math teacher Fawn Nguyen's Finding Ways to Nguyen Students Over blog offers an awesome set of tasks, perspectives, and good humor for teachers wanting to share ideas for engaging students in meaningful learning.
  • An official blogger for Key Curriculum Press, Karen Greenhaus shares links to videos and other resources that support teachers in eliciting and valuing student thinking. The "What do we 'no'?" video is worth watching and reflecting on!
  • The Teaching Tweaks blog is created by a former middle school math teacher and current UCLA doctoral student Belinda Thompson.  Her "say this not that" set of entries provide food for thought.
  • 6th grade math teacher Kirsten Silverman has started her Numbers blog to share her work toward making her classroom a place where students engage in reasoning and sense-making.  Several good ideas already posted as well as honest commentary on the challenges encountered along the way.
  • High school math teacher Amy Gruen's Square Root of Negative One blog has great ideas for supporting students in taking ownership of their (collective) learning.  Her entries on having students make up word problems and efforts to train students to be "coaches" for each other are fabulous.
  • John Golden, a math professor at Grand Valley State University, has the Math Hombre blog where he shares ideas for classroom activities as well as teacher professional development.  His entry on the use of cognitive coaching between colleagues as a way to improve teacher practice is outstanding and worth you taking some time to read and watch. Also, don't miss his Geogebra activity links!
  • Joe Ochiltree's Brain Open Now blog has some great algebraic reasoning activities and insights into how to set these up.
  • The Inquiry Blog was started by two teachers, one Australian and one from the United States, who wanted to create a space for teachers working to create an inquiry-based learning environment could share ideas.  Interesting, honest, informative.
  • Finally, certainly not to be missed, former high school math teacher Dan Meyer's blog is always full of ideas that challenge traditional notions of teaching mathematics.


  1. Hello Ellis,

    Your post is very nice and your post is very unique and it is really very good that teacher focus on student's thinking is a great idea to improve there knowledge and ideas, nice job you do.

    Thanks for post

    Abacus Franchise

  2. Nice blog Ellis, keep it up . You're doing a really good work