Maine Grade 2 Teacher Flourishing in Research + Practice Context
Contributed by Patricia Ann Maislen, Auburn School Department
“Reflecting with colleagues at monthly meetings generates insights to help transform my students into confident mathematical risk-takers and problem-solvers.”
This is my second year working with the Interactive STEM team at EDC as a member of the Research + Collaboratory. As a second-grade teacher, the collaboration has been one of the best professional development experiences I have had. We have met monthly and focused on developing mathematical thinking with effective questions, how to get students to share their thinking with their peers and in a Math Congress, and how to support students to become confident problem solvers, thinkers, and risk-takers.
We have shared math lessons by grade level and reflected on students’ responses and what elements constitute challenging, open-ended math tasks. We have read practice briefs as well as articles by Catherine Fosnot, watched demonstrations of open-ended problem solving, and joined in monthly coaching opportunities.
“I have been able to see my peers share their ideas and their students’ learning as if I was right in their classroom.”
Patricia Ann Maislen teaches at East Auburn Community School in Auburn, Maine.
The sharing and reflecting has been helpful because it gave me the opportunity to have discussions about key math ideas as well as students’ misconceptions. I have been able see my peers share their ideas and their students’ learning as if I was right in their classroom. I would often take a lesson idea that was shared and try a new version with my class. Colleagues shared rubrics, sentence starters, and students’ videos.
The videos were extremely helpful because we could follow students’ thinking as it unfolded. As students were making their videos, often they would self-correct and revise their thinking, and they were engaged and eager to share their thinking. I saw my students gain confidence in solving problems not just to have the correct answer but to be a part of the process of solving the problem and deepening their understanding. One student told my principal: “It’s okay if I don’t have it all the first time because I’ll see my mistake and I can change my strategy and go back and try it again.” That’s problem-solving, right there!
Patricia Ann begins a lesson by framing the mathematical problem.
A student then explains to her classmates and teacher how she arrived at a solution.
A parent also shared a story about the family shopping in a big box store. The older brother, a fourth-grader, had some birthday money, and he wanted to buy a video game. The family was in the video game section, and the fourth grader was trying to decide what to buy based on the money he had. My student, a second grader, gave his brother three possible scenarios based on how much money his brother had. One was to buy one video game and have some money left over, another was to buy two video games and use all of his money, and a third was to buy three smaller games. His older sister, a sixth-grader, checked the math on her phone while the parents asked my student how he came up with the three choices. He explained “friendly” numbers and splitting numbers to his parents, his older sister, and his brother right in the video game section. His mom told me his reasoning made so much sense. They were amazed that he could put it all together in his head! This student benefited from the open-ended problems and the opportunity to explain and test his strategies. He is a real problem solver!