Tuesday, January 20, 2015

#5Practices Book Study: Chapter 2 "Laying the Groundwork: Setting Goals and Selecting Tasks"

Today we are blogging about Chapter 2 of the #5practices book study.  For more information read here #5practices Book Study. Each Tuesday morning I will post a chapter summary with discussion questions, reflections, and a link up for you to share your blog post. Please make sure you read and share comments on others' posts.  Don't feel you have to follow the structure as set up when writing your post.  If you prefer to just blog about what you read, do that.  The discussion questions will be prompts for anyone looking for some guidance as to what to blog about. There is no right or wrong way to participate.  Use #5practices on Twitter to also share your blog post.  Any twitter discussion about the reading should include the same hashtag.  If there is interest in a scheduled twitter chat time to discuss the reading, we can decide on that as we go.  If you are not active on twitter now is a great time to start, or you can just link up with your blog posts if you prefer.

The title of this chapter really summarizes what it is all about, laying the groundwork by setting goals and selecting tasks.  Selecting the mathematical goals for the lesson is a critical first step when planning and teaching a lesson.  The key is to select a goal that clearly identify what students are to know and understand about mathematics as a result of the lesson.

Several examples were given throughout the chapter of tasks with higher level or lower level demand.  This chapter emphasizes the importance of setting your mathematical goal prior to a lesson and selecting appropriate tasks.  It is important to do this prior to implementing the five practices.

Discussion Questions (my thoughts in blue)

1) How would you describe the relationship between the goal for a lesson and the instructional activities in which students are to engage during the lesson?  I think the goal you set for the lesson will impact the types of instructional activities you choose.  Selecting high level open ended activities will allow students to go beyond learning a concept as simply a set of procedures.

3)  The authors argue that what students learn depends on the nature of the task in which they engage.  Do you agree with this point of view? Why or why not?  I definitely think that the depth of student learning is impacted by the type of tasks they complete as well as whether the tasks are over scaffolded or not.  Sometime we take a high level task and provide too much scaffolding for the students and essentially break the problem down to a step by step level that shuts down the possibility of students discovering on their own a viable method to solve the problem.  

4)  What do you see as the cost and benefits of using high-level (i.e., cognitively challenging tasks) as the basis for instruction?  The benefits are a deeper understanding of the learning goals and also often times seeing connections between the task and other mathematical concepts.  The costs are definitely time, you need to provide students adequate time to make these discoveries.  Students also need to be taught perseverance and to embrace productive struggle from this type of task.  Many students are only concerned with getting the correct answer and don't appreciated the learning that takes place as they struggle to achieve the task.

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