Joe Sebastian, Alpine, CA firstname.lastname@example.org
This summer, I took an Alaskan cruise from Seattle and took the picture to the right while the ship was on its way to see a glacier. I noticed the water was still enough to reflect the mountain range. I also noticed the reflection was slightly fuzzy. I wondered if the math I teach can also be as unclear to my students. I wondered if my students feel like math is upside down for them. I realized I was doing a Notice and Wonder and recalled that CPM’s Academy of Best Practices (ABP) is what brought me to Seattle to embark on this adventure and challenge me to help my students see math right side up, clearer, and in focus.
As math educators encounter challenges, the CPM staff and ABP mentors challenged us with a deep dive into NCTM’s “Principles to Actions.” They, along with prominent leaders in math education, reviewed the eight Mathematics Teaching Principles. They shared not only philosophy but also strategies that can be used in the classroom immediately. They modeled some of CPM’s Study Team and Teaching Strategies and demonstrated the value of the algebra tiles, the importance of connections to the real world, providing discourse for students, how technology should be used, and promoted the idea of using a feedback system to assess student understanding and not just their lack of knowledge. Equally valuable, ABP established a network of 30 colleagues to collaborate on our ideas as we returned to our respective schools.
The strategies and practices that were modeled can be used in our classrooms “as is,” or modified to our teaching styles. As the ship continued along Endicott Arm to see Dawes Glacier, I snapped this picture to the left which reminded me that one of the favorite callbacks we learned was to say “Waterfall,” and the teachers in unison would wiggle all ten fingers downwards as they said, “Shhhhhhhhhh.” I will use this strategy, but having served in the Navy for 20 years and having launched rockets, I can easily alter it to say, “Rocket Launch,” to which the class in unison would raise both hands to the right and respond, “Whoooosssssshhhhhhh.”
Wherever you are in your teaching journey, consider applying for CPM’s ABP to discover different ways and directions to take your teaching to the next level.