Connecting Research to Practice

Whenever we try a new practice in the classroom, we, of course, want it to positively impact student learning. However, many times the best practices we implement take several years to see changes in summative assessment results. Below are practices we can engage in with colleagues or on our own to see evidence of student growth along the way and to see evidence of the impact new or modified practice is having in the classroom.

What are additional ways we can tell that practices we try in the classroom are making a difference for students and ourselves as teachers?

  • Keep a record of classroom evidence over a specific period of time. For example, take a short video of a practice, such as facilitating a class discussion, 3 times over a period of 9 weeks. Observe the differences in the practice and in the ways students engaged in the practice you chose to implement. Other ideas are: collect student work on a specific concept, collection of specific type of tasks, teacher reflection notes, etc.
  • Focus on a sample of math tasks used over a specific period of time. Look for a change in the nature of the tasks you are asking students to do. How much of the time are tasks creating a high cognitive demand for students? How do the tasks meet students at their cutting edge of mathematical thinking based on Math Recovery®, Add+VantageMR® and SNAP assessments? How did you know that students were ready for or beyond teaching activities found in the purple and red books? Do tasks ask students to use multiple representations of important concepts?
  • Utilize formative assessments focused on conceptual thinking and aligned with instructional and learning goals. How do you see student thinking changing over time? What do the assessment results tell you about the kinds of deeper thinking tasks students need to experience in the classroom to continually support student thinking?

Ideas adapted from:
Smith, M. S. (2001). Practice-Based Professional Development for Teachers of Mathematics. Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

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