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Productive Math Struggle

Productive Math Struggle
A 6-Point Action Plan for Fostering Perseverance

March 2020 | 248 pages | Corwin

Foreword by Matt Larson
Introduction: Why Struggle? Why Now?
Chapter 1: VALUE Productive Struggle
Why Struggle Matters

Math is more than the pursuit of answers

Math isn't a procedure

Math is about equity, access, and opportunity

Productive struggle is essential for living and learning

What Productive Struggle Is and Isn't

What struggle looks like

When schools value struggle

Teacher behaviors for productive struggle

Educating families

Productive struggle "Look-For's"

Whole school agreement about productive struggle

Struggle and growth mindset

Moving from unproductive to productive beliefs about struggle

Struggle and growth mindset

Moving from unproductive to productive beliefs about struggle

Key Takeaways About Action 1: Value Productive Struggle

Action 2: FOSTER an Identity for Productive Struggle
What Is a Math Identity?

Your mathematical identity and its effects on instructional choices

Thinking about your experiences as a math student

Knowing Your Students' Mathematical Identities

Student Identity Activity 1: My Math Autobiography

Student Identity Activity 2: My Math Timeline

Student Identity Activity 3: Journal Prompts

Student Identity Activity 4: Math Beliefs Inventory

Student Identity Activity 5: Math Role Models and Their Stories, Who Are Mathematicians?

Student Identity Activity 6: Bumper Sticker

Student Activity 7: My Math Superpower

Student Identity Activity 8: Struggle Emojis

Key Takeaways About Action 2: Foster Identity for Productive Struggle

Chapter 3: Action 3: BUILD Community for Productive Struggle
Building Classroom Community for Productive Struggle

Addressing challenges to creating community

Establishing norms for a productive community

Maintaining community throughout the year

Activities for Building and Maintaining a Productive Math Community

Community Activity 1: Math Pledge

Community Activity 2: Group Behaviors Comic Strip

Community Activity 3: Good Groups vs Bad Groups

Community Activity 4: The Number Quilt

Community Activity 5: A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Numbers

Community Activity 6: Name and Number Tents

Community Activity 7: Dimensions of Me (or Many Faces)

Activities to Promote a Community Understanding of Productive Struggle

Community of Struggle Activity 1: The Picture of Struggle

Community of Struggle Activity 2: A Time I Struggled - The Ski Jump

Community of Struggle Activity 3: Create a Class Definition of Struggle

Key Takeaways About Action 3: Build Community for Productive Struggle

Chapter 4: Action 4: PLAN for a Lesson with Productive Struggle
Planning for Struggle

Establish the mathematics goal

Select tasks that create the right amount of struggle

Selecting High-Quality Tasks for Rigor

Tasks for conceptual understanding

Tasks for procedural fluency

Tasks for application

Modify Tasks for Provoke Productive Struggle

Modification Strategy 1: Ask Students to Create Multiple Representations (Create)

Modification Strategy 2: Ask Students to Create or Connect DIfferent Representations (Connect)

Modification Strategy 3: Ask Students “Does This Always Work?” (Generalize)

Modification Strategy 4: Ask Students the Reverse (Reverse the Problem)

Modification Strategy 6: Ask Students Open Questions (Open Up)

Modification Strategy 7: Ask Students to Compare and Contrast (Similarities and Differences)

Modification Strategy 8: Ask Students to Find and Use a Pattern (Find a Pattern)

Modification Strategy 9: Ask Students to Put their Understanding in Writing (Write About It)

Modification Strategy 10: Ask Before They Are Taught (Change the Sequence)

Doing the Task and Anticipating

Anticipate representations

Anticipate language and terms

Anticipate misconceptions and flawed strategies

Planning response and reaction

Instructional Models, Routines, and Other Considerations when Planning for Struggle

Direct Instruction

Gradual Release of Responsibility

Other Instructional Choices

Key Takeaways About Action 4: Plan for Productive Struggle

Action 5: SUPPORT the Productive Struggle During the Lesson
Classifying Various Types of Struggle

Classifying Various Types of Struggle

Responding to Different Kinds of Struggle

The Problem With Rescuing Student Answers

Struggle Moves That Rescue Thinking

Struggle Move 1: Prepping the Task

Struggle Move 2: Catch and Release

Struggle Move 3: Referrals

Struggle Move 4: Metacognitive Questions

Struggle Move 5: Remove the Numbers

Tips for Navigating Struggle

Teacher Tip 1: Don’t Restate More Than They Say (Revoicing)

Teacher Tip 2: Honoring Mistakes

Teacher Tip 3: Consider When to Help and When to Hold Back

Teacher Tip 4: Be Mindful of Mnemonics and Other “Aides” or “Tricks” to Support Struggle

Teacher Tip 5: Keep It From Boiling Over

Teacher Tip 6: Be aware of early finishers

Teacher Tip 7: Adjust the time

Teacher Tip 8: Focus on a strategy

Teacher Tip 9: Celebrate it

Teacher Tip 10: Leverage accountability and participation

Key Takeaways About Action 4: Support Productive Struggle

Chapter 6: Action 6: REFLECT on Productive Struggle
Integrating Reflection on Struggle into Lesson Closure

Student Activities for Reflection on Struggle

Independent Writing and Drawing

Student Activity 1: Journaling

Student Activity 2: Struggle Doodle

Student Activity 3: Who I Learned From

Collaborative Reflections

Student Activity 4: The Picture of Struggle

Student Activity 5: One Word

Student Activity 6: Find Someone

Evaluative Reflection Activities

Student Activity 7: Got It, Tried It

Student Activity 8: Too Easy, Too Hard, Just Right: The Goldilocks Reflection

Student Activity 9: Today I, Tomorrow I Will

Teacher Reflection on Productive Struggle

Teacher Option 1: In-the-Moment Notes

Teacher Option 2: Journaling

Teacher Option 3: When Students Reflect, You Reflect

Teacher Option 4: Team Reflections or Professional Learning Cadres

Reflection Leads to Celebration

Celebration Approach 1: Notice It and Reward It with Struggle Bucks and Shout-Outs

Celebration Approach 2: Reward It Beyond Math Class with Brag Tags

Celebration Approach 3: Reward When Students Take Advantage of Tools

One caveat about celebration

Key Takeaways About Action 6: Reflect on Productive Struggle

Chapter 7: Closing Thoughts about Struggle
Productive Struggle Definition and Inventory: Where Are You Now?

One Final Note


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