Math Practices Video Series: Mathematical Practice #6

Today in our video series on the Standards for Mathematical Practice, Larry Dorf presents Mathematical Practice #6. If you’ve missed any of this video series, you can catch up with our previous posts:

Mathematical Practice #1: Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
Mathematical Practice #2: Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
Mathematical Practice #3: Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
Mathematical Practice #4: Model with mathematics.
Mathematical Practice #5: Use appropriate tools strategically.

There are multiple parts to each practice. The parts help students develop the habit of mind that is the main practice. Remember that the practices are defined as ways to help students become mathematically proficient. As we look at each practice, think of ways we can help students to take ownership of these practices.

In the sixth video, students are learning how to use rates in real life situations. The Essential Question asks: “How can you use rates to describe changes in real life problems?”

Notice how the students are given time to discuss and write their own word problem. Notice also how the teacher questions and discusses the comparison of rates. Students are discussing situations with which they can relate and with which they will be able to explore. When they begin to work on problems in their groups, they will be able to use these strategies, thereby building their proficiency.

Mathematical Practice #6: Attend to precision.

• Mathematically proficient (MP) students try to communicate precisely to others.

• MP students try to use clear definitions in discussion with others and in their own reasoning.

• MP students state the meaning of the symbols they choose, including using the equal sign consistently and appropriately.

• MP students are careful about specifying units of measure, and labeling axes to clarify the correspondence with quantities in a problem.

• MP students calculate accurately and efficiently, and express numerical answers with a degree of precision appropriate for the problem context.

As you look at your classroom, you probably see students with varying degrees of expertise in this practice. Our job, as educators, is to help students develop a habit of mind that helps them naturally think before they begin so that they can mathematically communicate clearly.

Ask yourself:

Do you promote discussion between your students?

Are students able to accurately express their answers?

Are your students able to justify their reasoning with one another?

As students take ownership of their learning and develop expertise using the mathematical practices, the content standards (knowledge, skills and understandings, procedural skills and fluency, and application and problem solving) will make sense, allowing students to achieve success in mathematics.

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