About SERP's work with San Francisco Math Teachers
This website is the product of a SERP collaboration with middle school mathematics teachers in the San Francisco Unified School District. Over the course of several years, Phil Daro (SERP Bay Area Math Director and co-author of the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics), Professor Alan Schoenfeld (U.C. Berkeley), and a team of teachers and graduate students met monthly to explore together why students were struggling with math in the middle grades, and what they could do to support student learning. We began with data that indicated students did not struggle with particular math topics, but rather with particular problem types: word problems.
Teachers conducted “think-alouds” with students, and found that many students began to solve problems without understanding the situation described, or the question being asked. They looked for signals that would indicate whether to subtract, multiply, or perform some other operation. The question our group pursued was this: how can we shift the culture of the mathematics classroom away from answer-getting and toward sense-making? We are not suggesting that getting answers is a bad goal, but when it is the only goal, genuine learning is undermined.
We set out to identify relatively small shifts in practice that could create relatively big shifts in behavior and expanded to include fully designed diagnostic lessons. We hope others will find these strategies of value. If you try these out in your own classrooms, please let us know what you think by sending your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
San Francisco Unified School District
Jennifer Gallardo Payne
University of California, Berkeley
Strategic Education Research Partnership
SERP has been supported to conduct this work by the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation.
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