Session 1: Explore the Inquiry Topic & Reflect on Your Current Practice
Outside-of-class meeting | Time: 1 hour | Materials: Class set of recent student journals
In this session, you will examine journals to see how students draw on their prior knowledge, consider strategies to encourage this habit and identify strategies to try in your classroom.
The field of mathematics grows because mathematicians use prior knowledge to build new concepts and procedures. How can we help our students build this key mathematical disposition?
“Tasks must allow students to treat the situation as problematic, as something they need to think about rather than a prescription they need to follow. …In order for students to work seriously on a task, it must offer students the chance to use skills and knowledge they already possess” (Hiebert, Carpenter, et al. 1997, p. 18).
Help students become aware of the role their ideas and prior knowledge play. For example, teacher Bill Jackson uses a thought bubble on the board
- Encourage students to look back at in their journals, by asking questions such as “What do we already know that might help us solve the problem?”or , “Where can we look to help us remember what we have already done?” When students use their journals as a reference, bring this to the attention of the class.
1A: Reflect on Your Current Practice
- What were some successes you had in using the new strategies to encourage students’ use of prior knowledge?
- What were some challenges?
- What aspects of these strategies would you like to carry forward into your future instruction?
- What would you like to change or add?
1B: Learn about New Strategies
Colleagues and research can be great sources of additional ideas for building a classroom environment in which students routinely draw on their prior learning. Here are several that were shared with us. Try these or brainstorm your own.
- When you pose a new type of problem to students, ask them what they notice about it or what they already know that might help them solve it. You can see an example of this in the classroom here: