October 23, 2015
Walden students are taught that math begins with informed thinking, and that we all can develop positive mathematical identities and become powerful mathematical learners. Stressing “thinking like a mathematician,” Walden students intentionally follow a sequence of skills and concepts based on the findings of effective developmental theories. Walden teachers strive to ensure that all students are actively engaged in the “Concrete to Pictorial to Abstract” approach to instruction.
In every core, math lessons begin with building concrete understanding using manipulatives, tactile experiences, games, and student practice of skills. Utilizing students’ natural curiosity, teachers guide students to the abstract algorithms of “elementary mathematics.” It is through this structure and repetition that Walden students become confident, and develop planning skills and perseverance to explore creative ways to arrive at an answer using numbers and symbolic manipulation. Equally embedded in the delivery and design is the development of metacognition-the ability to think about one’s thinking, consider alternative ways of solving problems, and express solutions to the class.
With that being said, Walden recognizes that all math programs have strengths and limitations. This is what prompted their recent partnership with the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education to understand, explore, and implement effective methods of differentiation for all learners. A two year study of Universal Concepts, Depth and Complexity prompts, the newly revised Standards for Mathematical Practice as developed by National Council of Mathematics, and Meta-Math, which explicitly teaches students to think about their thinking when practicing the discipline of math has helped enhance Walden’s math faculty instruction.
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Tags: academic skills, algorithms, collaborative learning, community of learners, differentiation, discipline of math, mathematical learners, metacognition, thinking like a mathematician