Posted on March 8, 2020



I read blog post from Illustrative Mathematics that included the idea that “if your procedure has a procedure, you should really rethink what you’re doing.”   While I completely agree that understanding is important, one paragraph bugs me: the one starting with “Some people try to demonstrate a procedure and then retroactively make connections to conceptual understanding.”   She dismisses this completely with an example of a teacher saying “and this is why we…”   with “Chalk and talk and chalk and talk and chalk and talk. See?”

Except:   connection making does not have to be chalk and talk.

I’ve had success this week with some students who were totally on board with the conceptual part, but didn’t apply it to doing problems.  I’m talking “but what did you just tell me you were going to do?”   and they said it and then did something different. Two negatives make a positive and all that.

Finding and teaching a *different* procedure can break that cycle.   (Okay, it broke part of it last week — here’s hoping!!)   The procedure had to come first.   It had to look different and feel different. Then I made the connections to those elusive concepts.

I think this is a reason why Graspable Math is so appealing… but then I get to where I *totally* agree with Kate Nowak:   you can’t stop there.   You have to work with the meaning and the language and the real contexts, especially and specifically when we Use A Weird Symbol like we do with inequalities and square roots.   So so so many students simply don’t give them meaning.   (Similar w/ exponents except they usually just assign it to mean “times the power” because hey, if they’re next to each other, multiply.)   It’s why the square root of 16 turns into 2 because you *can* keep going.

Internet hint:  don’t, just for fun, see if you can find a random abandoned blog post (for the sake of finding a dead one; not seeking a certain dead one).   Your anti-viral will not like you.

 I succeeded in giving up not going to the library for Lent, inspired by how long it would take for #Twitter and Tear Gas to arrive if I purchased it.  Libraries are awesome but the inspiration wore off by today so focus is fleeting (exacerbated by whacking off an hour for Daylight Saving).   Oh, and if I blogged about the “I used a car and I now can’t find anything” of yesterday it would be a looong read. Just know that between the time I put those keys down (not the first thing) and when I found them…. the clothes I put in the dryer when I put them down… were dry. Hmmm.   Task right now: set up my space right now so this doesn’t escalate… 

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