Welcome fellow Recovering Traditionalists to Episode 6 where we take a look at Contexts for Learning Fractions.

Today we are talking about a quote from Young Mathematicians at Work: Constructing Fractions, Decimals, and Percents by Cathy Fosnot and Maarten Dolk.

On page 25 they write,

“One could argue that the use of context in mathematics teaching is not new. Certainly we all have vivid memories of word problems. Usually, however, our teachers assigned them after they had explained operations, algorithms (like invert and multiply), or rules for equivalent fractions, and we were expected to apply these procedures to the problems. In Carol’s class, context is not being used for application at the end of a unit of instruction. It is being used at the start, for construction.”

Wow, I want you to reflect on that for a moment.

Are contextual problems being used as application problems at the end of the instruction or as construction at the start of instruction??

That’s a big shift for us Recovering Traditionalists. By taking the contextual problems that are usually found at the end of the lesson and moving one to the beginning is showing that we believe our students have mathematical knowledge already and it isn’t just up to us to pour the knowledge into them.

This book is all about that. It’s about giving students contextual problems, letting them solve it in a way that makes sense to them depending upon where they are in their landscape of learning about fractions, decimals, and percents, and then coming together during Math Congress to learn from each other.

By that I mean that students learn from each other but the teacher is also learning during this time. When you use contextual problems as construction, you get to see what mathematical big ideas, strategies, and models your students already understand and which ones they still need help developing.

Young Mathematicians at Work: Constructing Fractions, Decimals, and Percents does discuss how to set up math lessons in your classroom in a way that helps kids really be mathematicians and not just doing math.  However, the thing I really loved throughout the book is that it builds our understanding of the mathematics along the way.

I’m fortunate to have opportunities to chat with Cathy Fosnot and in just 5 minutes with her, she drops a new wonderful nugget of mathematical insights every single time!  Inside the Build Math Minds PD site I’ve even gotten her to do two different webinars for our members. So if you are a member of that make sure you watch those videos inside the member area.  If you aren’t a member of BMM and want to learn from Cathy to develop your Landscape of Learning around fractions, decimals, and percents then check out the book. Cathy also has a curricular series called Context for Learning Mathematics that I highly recommend.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Build Math Minds PD site: buildmathminds.com/bmm

Young Mathematicians at Work: Fractions, Decimals, and Percents by Cathy Fosnot & Maarten Dolk

**Use code YMAWFD on the Heinemann site to receive 40% off this book through May 20, 2019.

Contexts for Learning Mathematics core curriculum

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As you start off the school year, I want you to keep in mind what is really important as we're trying to teach mathematics to our students.