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Doing and Implementing Rich Math Tasks in Algebra

Workshop Spotlight | May 16, 2019

Teachers often rely on memory to analyze their students’ comprehension of a new lesson after it is introduced, but what if there was a way to further investigate learning, specifically students’ mathematical reasoning? In the “Doing and Implementing Rich Math Tasks in Algebra” MƒA Professional Learning Team (PLT), MƒA teachers explored a rich math task, designed and taught related problems in their classrooms, and reflected on student thinking and instructional practice through video clips that captured each lesson.

Last fall, MƒA Emeritus Teachers Liz-Clark Garvey and Carl Oliver facilitated this five session PLT where teachers considered questions that helped them understand and push student thinking forward. By using video, teachers were able to directly connect the coursework with their own students in high school Algebra classrooms. “Supporting students’ mathematical reasoning is extremely complex,” said Liz. “There are lots of resources of getting ‘rich tasks,’ but in this PLT we focused on how teachers can get better at effectively implementing these tasks by studying them.”

This PLT was inspired by the “Problem Solving Cycle” professional development model, which focuses on mathematics content, instruction, and learning. Teachers ultimately identified “takeaways” about their teaching, and students’ perceptions and misconceptions. Added Liz, “If students have opportunities to reason mathematically in productive ways, they will see mathematics as a world that makes sense, as opposed to a world to be memorized.” Read and watch an introduction to MƒA PLTs here.