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“I wanted to foster a new mindset…multiple entry points and avenues to explore”

Welcome to Teacher of SIS, where peers nominate teachers highlighting their practices.

This week we are pleased to have Nadia Erlednson, a Kinder teacher who works at Mountainside campus.

Here are her responses to the questions regarding her lesson.

**1. What did you want your students to know or understand?**

I really wanted to change the mindset my students had towards mathematics.

Most students, me being one of those for many years, thought math was about solving a single problem by getting one definitive answer. I wanted to foster a new OPEN mindset about mathematics with my students, where they had multiple entry points and avenues to explore to reach the answer.

This is so important, as every student approaches the problem differently.

Furthermore, this new mindset would foster “patient” mathematics, where students can be introduced to an idea, apply, learn, modify, and keep iterating until they reach their understanding.

**2. What skills did you want your students to gain?**

Mathematically, the ability to count and use numbers between 1-10.

More importantly, I wanted them to create their understanding of the problem and what it meant to them within the task of counting.

The Common Core does this and it is what I am passionate about; solving problems in various ways with mathematical skills.

**3. How did you teach this lesson in the past?**

I feel I have always taught math a little open-ended, but I did not use Digital provocations with this lesson.

Their use has enhanced this lesson tremendously, as before it was a lot of direct instruction where I told them what to do.

Whereas, now, they are able to see the question and try to make meaning of it within the task on their own.

**4. How did you problem-solve and be creative to come up with this new method for this lesson?**

It all starts with my old entrenched beliefs I had about math ( a tear rolling down her cheek).

I was never taught to think of math in an open-ended manner. For me, it was really just something in separate boxes. Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1…

WHY?

Well in high school I took AP Calculus. However, I was a low student in a high class. I tried really hard, but I never had a complete grasp of derivatives and integrals. At the end of the year, you pay to take the test, but my teacher (I still remember this vividly) said,

You can save your money, just don’t take the test

Unfortunately, a lot of adults have similar traumatic stories where they have solidified the idea that they are not a “math person.”

I was awakened to a new reality when I went to a workshop on Inquiry and Mathematics. It changed my life…I cried, actually, there was a group of us on the floor just balling, as we all had these crazy stories of why we had such fixed ideas about math.

This opened me up to a whole new view of math and how it can be taught.

The key takeaway was to keep the task OPEN ended. This allows for multiple entry points and students can create their own understandings within the task they are given. Essentially, individualize instructions and learning.

This opens up so many possibilities.

For example, I am collaborating with a 5th-grade teacher and we give both of our classes the same task. We meet every week and discuss their responses, which are fascinating! Similarities, differences, but all because students were given multiple entry points to the task.

I am passionate about spreading this OPEN-ENDED way of teaching math to both students and teacher, as it will bring a whole new understanding of math and of learning.

Please reach out if you have any questions about Open-ended (inquiry-based) math!

Resources

101qs.com Digital provocations where you can find pre-made questions to introduce in your lessons. Great for “I see, I think, I wonder.”

Nrich.maths.org Digital provocations and open-ended tasks.

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