Woodburn School District Math Walks
On Tuesday, April 11th teachers from all three levels visited math classrooms throughout the district. The day began in the hustle and bustle of 4th-grade classrooms at Heritage Elementary, where students were working hard to decompose fractions. Some classrooms featured teachers modeling this process and students processing their learning via individual whiteboards, while in other classrooms students explained their thinking to peers, excitedly justifying their answers. Afterwards, the visiting staff –three teachers and a district administrator who all serve on the district Math Taskforce– debriefed what they saw, especially taking note of opportunities for structured student talk and strategies to support the standards for Mathematical Practices 1, 3, and 6. Seeking out examples of these math practices throughout the district is one of the major goals of the Math Taskforce, and the visiting teachers were careful to point out instances of them in the classrooms they visited while they wrote thank you emails for the teachers and students.
As the day went on, the group of visiting teachers were able to see Kinder, First grade, 8th grade and High School math classes; each time noting the structured language talk routines students utilized, as well as other strategies. Throughout their visits, they saw thoughtful pacing, clear student routines, supportive visuals, open-ended guiding questions, real-time feedback, and a lot of encouragement of our students to continue to grow as mathematicians!
Both visiting teachers as well as the teachers who opened their classrooms expressed their enjoyment of the process and their desire to see more classroom-to-classroom visitations, expanding beyond the teachers who are involved in the Math Taskforce. As we begin to pilot new mathematics materials in our K-12 classrooms in anticipation of a new adoption recommendation next school year, we hope there will be many more opportunities for teachers to not only visit each other’s rooms but to also open their classrooms to other practitioners. These events allow us the opportunity to all learn and grow together in our mathematics instruction and student discourse.
While these math walks were a fantastic window into the hard work that educators and students are doing in math classes, it is not the only way that different groups are engaging in problem-solving around mathematics instruction in our district. In addition to the three teachers who visited classrooms on April 11th, there are six additional staff members who comprise the Math Taskforce. This is a team of people who have been reviewing student data, discussing math theory and practice, developing tri-lingual vocabulary supports for classrooms, and identifying high-leverage instructional strategies to promote and support. Most recently, this team developed a survey for 6-12 students on their perspectives on math and themselves as mathematicians. Once students’ results are in, the team will analyze the data to see what other kinds of strategies and supports might aid students in their math development.
Another group working to get students and instructors additional support for mathematics instruction is the Mathematics materials adoption committee. There are 39 educators in total, representing each building in the district, who are piloting math materials in preparation for our upcoming adoption. While materials review and pilots began this year, the adoption will be fully implemented in the 24-25 school year. With the wide representation of teachers, if you are interested in learning more about the adoption process or the materials in the final round of review, math teachers in your building will be a great source of information, or you can check out the Instructional Materials page on the district website.
Thank you to all of our educators who have participated in Math Walks in any capacity this year, as well as those folks involved in the Math Taskforce and Math Materials Adoption committee. Next year will be an especially big year for mathematics instruction in Woodburn, and all of us in WSD are lucky to have each other to learn from!
By Nicole Pete