Making Meaning of Mathematics

High quality instruction is an critical element to the success of all students, but particularly essential in schools working with high needs population due to low- socioeconomic impacts and a higher number of English Language Learners. Beacon Academy in Furschtein School District is one of these high needs schools. Research has shown that improvements in instructional practice can best be supported by on-going support from an instructional coach/leader. This support is particularly important for novice educators who are entering the classroom for the first time. As the new TK-8 Mathematics Coordinator at Ravenswood, I was reached out to by Beacon Academy’s principal on behalf of her 3rd grade team, which consisted of three novice first year teachers. They wanted and needed support in mathematics. Upon identifying an area of need around supporting students in making meaning of math through instructional best practices, an extensive literature review occurred and was focused around understanding the shifts in the Common Core State Standards, identifying the skills and content knowledge needed to effectively teach mathematics, how students can make meaning of math, mathematical discourse, novice vs. expert teachers, and how to move teacher practice were reviewed. Following the literature review an intervention plan designed around providing on-going coaching using the coaching cycle was implemented. The third grade team was provided a professional development session around Number Talks to create a shared understanding and identify the best practice to be used to promote meaning making amongst their third graders. Following the professional development session, demonstration lessons took place in each classroom to model the Number Talk structure. The demonstration lessons were followed by three coaching cycles per teacher.

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