Monitoring Mathematical Comprehension--Chapter 9

When I started reading this chapter, I was struck by how much this was like how I teach reading comprehension strategies. Laney Sammons, opens the chapter with a quote by Keene and Zimmerman, that they "describe proficient readers, these mathematicians "listen to inner voices, make ongoing connections, and adjustments, are are aware of how meaning evolves." Like so many students and more so those with exceptional needs need to have those strategies taught with precise precision and then retaught again and again. (Kenne and Zimmerman are the authors of Mosaic of Thought.)

She continues to layout in the chapter a sequence of teaching  the strategies to students. Her layout is a lot like "The Comprehension Toolkit." Starting with monitoring  thinking through metacognition. This is where students need to ask themselves "Does this make sense? Students who get math do this without thinking. Students that struggle in math-I think this is the hardest thing to get them to come to terms with. I think of my own students and if they aren't getting it-they just throw out answers and hope the right one comes out. (Any one else have students who do this?)

The first step in monitoring comprehension is monitoring conceptual understanding. Back when I learned math (which really wasn't that long ago) the focus was on the procedure needed to get the right answer not the understanding behind it. Now fast forward to Common Core and its ALL about the understanding and explaining your thinking. Its getting students to take responsibility for their own monitoring and know when they don't get it. Teachers can help by asking explicit questions like "How do you know whether or not you understand? What do you do if your confused?" Get them to identify where they stop getting it! One thing I do when I'm teaching math and a student tells me they don't get any of it is ask "Where are you not getting it? Which step don't you get?" I don't let them get away with telling me "all of it" any more. They HAVE to be specific.

Another way to help students monitor their comprehension in math is to draw pictures of the problem. If you can't visualizing the problem then you have a problem. I know from work my building has done to raise our standardized math scores, that being able to explain thinking two different ways--drawing a picture counts. And even better if students use numbers and a couple key words. Sammons's lays out several other strategies that include: identify unfamiliar vocabulary, rereading the problem, making connections to other math concepts, using manipulatives, and trying a different problem-solving approach.

Those in my mind are student actions. Strategies that I can teach  for my students to use. But what about teacher actions once these have been taught? Both in Guided Math and in the Gradual Release of Responsibility Model-you do modeled lessons and think-alouds. These are the perfect places to teach or reteach strategies on your thinking. Most of my math lessons start with a think-aloud and a modeled lesson. I get students to do think-alouds when I'm wondering if they are ready to do it on their own. One teacher I work with has his high students do think-alouds to the whole class. I think that the more students hear and see someone's thinking other than that of the teacher can only help. They may have a way of explaining it that helps the student get it.

I have created a set of Math Comprehension Strategy Posters with examples. Be sure to pick up your copy by clicking on the picture. Brenda's at Primary Inspired for more on Chapter 9.
I can't wait to use them with my students in the fall. I think that they will help students make the connection of the strategies I use in reading I can use to understand math. Stop by




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Welcome to my all thing special education blog. I empower busy elementary special education teachers to use best practice strategies to achieve a data and evidence driven classroom community by sharing easy to use, engaging, unique approaches to small group reading and math. Thanks for Hopping By.
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