How to Teach the Standards for Mathematical Practice

My third year teaching we switched over to common core math. I was informed that students would also be tested on the standards for mathematical practice. I thought, "Great! What are those?" They were new to me too, but after studying the standards for mathematical practice in the common core standards I was excited to incorporate them into my teaching.  The best way I found to teach the standards for mathematical practice was using logic and reasoning problems. 

  1. Teach or review a standard(s) for mathematical practice at the start of class. 
  2. Give your students a problem they can reason through and have them focus on the standard for mathematical practice as they work through the problem. 
  3. Incorporate some of the ideas below as they work on their math task.  As you implement these ideas the mathematical practice will often naturally occur.  The key is detailed descriptions and deep conversations. With each strategy below make sure you have the students also explain how they used the standard for mathematical practice.
    • Give each group a large piece of butcher paper.  Have them show their work and solution on their paper.  Make sure that it is clear the strategy they used to solve it.
    • Set up a gallery walk around the classroom, and have your students walk around and notice the different strategies used. 
    • Have a class discussion after the small group work
    • Take note of the different strategies of each group. Have small presentations after to show different strategies that were used.
    • Have a class discussion on which mathematical practices were used.
While the solution to the problem is important, remember to keep the focus on using the standards for mathematical practice. I have found small groups or pair work to be effective. Students can easily practice constructing viable arguments and critiquing the reasoning of others. 

Not sure which problems to use?  You want problems that students can use reasoning skills to work through. Logic puzzles work great, but I would use other types of problems as well.  I created some math tasks to be used to teach the standards for mathematical practice. They are back-to-school themed, but can be used at any time of the year. 

Also, having the mathematical practices displayed in your classroom is the key to using them. I always had them on my front bulletin board, and referred to them during every discussion.  Students benefit from the constant reminder.  I love these posters.

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