Math Practices Video Series: Mathematical Practice #7

Our video series on the Standards for Mathematical Practice is coming to a close, but we still have two videos left to share! Today we are sharing our video for Mathematical Practice #7. 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.
Mathematical Practice #6: Attend to precision.

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 seventh video, students are learning how to break apart a composite figure into its pieces to calculate surface area. The Essential Question asks: “How can you find the surface area of composite figures?”

Observe how the teacher activates the students’ previous knowledge. What questions does he ask? Students are making sense of the problem and planning a solution pathway. When they begin to work on problems in their groups, they will be able to use these strategies, thereby building their proficiency.

Mathematical Practice #7: Look for and make use of structure.

• Mathematically proficient students look closely to discern a pattern or structure.

• Mathematically proficient students can see complicated things as single objects or as being composed of several objects.

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, make sense of what they are doing and persevere in their work. Ask yourself:

Can your students break composite figures into the appropriate pieces?

Are students able to make conjectures and define a strategy to solve problems?

Do they realize composite figures exist in everyday life?

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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