Math is a Social Sport: Becoming a “Wise Consumer”

I’m continuously reminding myself that I need to be a “wise consumer” of math resources. Whenever I’m asked to review a resource, I reach for the Standards of Mathematical Practices.  The SMPs are like Kryptonite and will break down even the most comprehensive super-program out there.  The SMPs are all-knowing!

The proliferation of tech programs in elementary schools are rampant.  As districts look to lead the blended learning initiative they’re left grasping for a program and as I witness every day, programs developers are eagerly awaiting a P.O.  My wish is that all consumers of math programs slow down, take a deep breath, and ask “what makes this program great!”

I suggest they start with the words of Steve Leinwand:

It’s only one of eight Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice, but we can change schools and change lives if we truly implement Mathematical Practice 3: Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.

This is beautifully captured by Andrew Stadel’s post (It’s 89 seconds that will truly make you smarter).

Most programs will engage students in some of the SMPs but I wonder how students are communicating and constructing viable arguments in this atmosphere?

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 5.50.31 PM

At least 56 students, one teacher, and a whole lot of partitioned cubicles.

It looks like the teacher is setting up for a game of ….

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 4.00.25 PM

Make sure you keep your head down!


I can’t help but think how this environment only promotes a certain type of internal reasoning.

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 4.12.24 PM

I’m not here to bash or promote personalized/blended learning.  I’m definitely NOT qualified.  But I consider myself highly qualified to endorse programs that align to best practice, embrace the Standards for Mathematical Practice and are in the best interests of 5-12 year old boys and girls.  Elementary students need companionship and they need to be social…MATH NEEDS TO BE SOCIAL.

I can only suggest that consumers of elementary math programs begin with Standard for Mathematical Practice #3 in their critical evaluation of programs.

Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.

The rebuttal I hear often in the defense of programs is that it’s only 15-20 minutes out of a whole school day.   I like math so I did a little and thought I’d share…

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 4.46.16 PM

20 minutes x 5 days = 100 minutes a week

36 weeks x 100 minutes = 3,600 minutes

3,600 x 6 grades (K-5) = 21, 600 minutes

That’s a whole lot of time where students are engaged in the 21st century skill of wearing earmuffs and not engaging in discussion or collaborating.

Sounds like a deal breaker to me.

About gfletchy

K-8 math consumer trying to listen and learn each day. Stay thirsty my friends!
This entry was posted in Cheese Mover, Math Tools, SMPs, Technology, Who Knows?. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Math is a Social Sport: Becoming a “Wise Consumer”

  1. Marian Dingle says:

    After a week of Mock Milestones testing, I really needed this post! My students have missed this week’s opportunity to engage in meaningful mathematical discourse because they’ve just been too beat after silent, individual testing. Thank you for reminding me that my students and I are not crazy.

  2. gfletchy says:

    Between planning budgets and state testing, a lot of bad decisions can made in the spring. Keep fighting the good fight. You’re definitely not crazy.

  3. Nancy says:

    Are there any math programs that are aligned with the MPS?

    • gfletchy says:

      I’ve yet to find a program that aligns to the mathematical practices. Most of the programs I’ve seen “touch” at most 4 standards to the depth and level of which they’re expected. If you find one please share!
      I think it becomes more difficult for digital programs to align because so much of what the SMPs require is grounded in collaboration, communication, and exploration.

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