Snapshot: Math Professional Learning Community

Overall Goal

The Math Professional Learning Community (PLC) will explore how to enable children from birth through grade 3 to meet the first standard of the Standards for Mathematical Practice; namely, make sense of problems and persevere in solving them. Specifically, the PLC will focus on relating this standard to algebraic thinking and reasoning in service of teaching students and supporting families. The group will continue to share with one another by analyzing samples of mathematical tasks that demonstrate how students make sense of algebraic problems and persist in solving them.

Rationale

Children’s capacity to solve problems is an area of concern across all ages and developmental stages. By focusing on this standard, the PLC will increase effectiveness in teaching students the following: (1) the importance of approaching problems in multiple ways (2) how these approaches may inform problem-solving, (3) that it is ok to make mistakes, so long as we learn from them, and (4) why it is necessary to persist in efforts around problem-solving.

Approach

  1. First, the PLC learned more about how children’s capacity to solve problems played out in their individual practices.
  2. Members recorded and shared videos of children involved in math problem solving. The children had previously been identified as either meeting or exceeding expectations or as emerging learners.
  3. While watching the videos, members completed observation forms that guided discussion after each clip.
  4. Group members also offered feedback and suggestions on what teachers could do to help students through the specific task.
  5. Next, teachers made video recordings of themselves working with those same students and using some of the suggestions from their colleagues.
  6. Once again, members recorded and discussed their observations and feedback.
  7. The PLC identified common themes and trends within the math problem-solving behaviors observed in the children.

Results

As a result of shared learning and support of each other’s practice, the PLC determined the need for more consistent teacher language and behaviors that support students’ math problem-solving abilities.

PLC members discussed what they learned from their PLC experience in a video.

Resources