Chapter 7 – Collaborating with Families, Community, and Principals
I have read many negative aspects about the Common Core Learning Standards. I firmly believe that many people who are making these negative comments have not 1) read the standards and/or 2) were not taught in a way that students are learning today and blame the standards. I’m sure many of you have read some of the negative comments surrounding the Common Core Standards and have heard parents just blast the standards and/or do not know how to help their child when it comes to learning math “this way”.
In this chapter, Collaborating with Families, Community, and Principals, the authors “discuss ideas for a collaborative community that understands and is able to support high-quality mathematics teaching and learning for every student” (p. 85). It is important to be proactive when communicating with families before they become frustrated with the teacher, or with math in general…hence the negative opinions for Common Core. They authors give readers suggestions for communicating math goals to parents that I feel can be highly effective. One suggestion is a Family and Community Math Night. This is something I would like to see at my school. They gave amazing suggestions for activities that could be done so parents and families have an idea of the depth of mathematical thinking that is being done in the classroom.
Parents and community members, and I have experienced this myself, want to know why math instruction is so different than the way they learned it. I find this ironic because, and this is referred in the text, many parents say to me, “I wasn’t very good in math”. My response is , “Neither was I, but while I am teaching my students, I, too, am learning how to do math in a whole new way and I wish I learned it this way when I was younger.” I am taking on the rolls of the organizer, facilitator, and questioner instead of just telling students how to do math.
In my classroom I follow a guided math approach which allows for cooperative groups. The authors did a nice job showing teachers how they can have parents connect that experience to the value of cooperative learning.
- Include a feature in your parent newsletter
- Send home letters introducing mathematics units of study
- Do a cooperative learning mathematics activity at a family math night or back to school event
- Invite parents to assist in a mathematics group assignment
Students need those many opportunities to problem solve on their own and practice it. Many parents and families still believe the best way to learn addition and subtraction facts are through flash cards and memorization. But conceptual learning and having concrete experiences will aide in the problem solving process. Explain that engaging children in productive struggle is one of the most effective ways that teachers can help children develop conceptual understanding. Families need to also know the number one mathematical practice is that students are to make sense of problems and preserve in solving them.
I want to say that I am not a proponent of homework. I do give my students an optional homework list for the week that they can work on at home if they choose. My math homework consists mostly of card games and some computation worksheets, but again they are optional. I have had parents praise my homework and they say their students love the games they play together. The authors do give recommendations to consider when thinking about homework. They are as follows:
- Mimic the three-phase lesson model
- Use a distributed-content approach
- Promote an “ask-before-tell” approach with parents
- Provide good questioning prompts for parent
**These are described in more detail on page 93.
I like how the authors compare reading support and math support. They say, “In the same way that families support literacy by reading books with their children or pointing out letters of the alphabet when they encounter them, families can and should support numeracy” (p. 94). Figure 7.6 on page 95 is an awesome sample letter that can be sent home. It is something I will most likely send home this year to my families.
As we all know as educators, you have to know your families and their cultures. All parents want their children to succeed in school whether they had a positive schooling experience or not. We must keep those lines of commutation open and be there to help, not only the students, but the families as well. Help families understand the mathematics program being taught in your classroom and how you are using best practices for what these little ones will experience in the real world.
We would love to hear what works for you in collaborating with families and your community, so feel free to leave a comment.
Thanks for stopping by today! We will see you back here on Sunday!