Planning for Success in this week's Symphony Buzz...
Ideas to Grow Your Math Classroom
The Symphony Buzz
March Madness

You and your students are working hard this time of year: critical ideas, visual representations, hands-on modeling – and yet you can’t fit everything into your math periods. Parts of your grade level curriculum are still left to cover but your district’s pacing isn’t matching the reality of your students’ mastery of core content. You may be feeling the pressure of upcoming state tests, wondering, “Are my students ready?”


We know from previous international testing scenarios (TIMMS, NAEP) that ‘covering’ the vast curriculum is not the answer, nor more importantly, does it create proficient mathematics students. Rather than worry about your grade’s entire Scope and Sequence, ask yourself, are you focusing on essential Big Ideas – the ones the Content Standards deem are critical to mathematics success? Best practice tells us we need to focus on number; that’s where we find the gaps interfering with students’ learning grade-specific content.

What if you tried this?

Here are two resources we think will support your focus on really important content. These documents prioritize Big Ideas, and support the idea that if you spend most of your math time on foundational numeracy and number sense making, you increase your students’ depth of knowledge of essential concepts.

Content Emphases: Achieve the Core

Didactic Contract

The aim of these grade-by-grade documents is to show where students and teachers should spend the large majority of their time in order to meet the expectations of the Standards. Each document is color coded to show Major, Supporting, and Additional Content Clusters. The green Major Content Clusters are most important to students’ mathematical understanding. They are the heart of the curriculum, and the footnote describes that up to 85% of class time should be devoted to this work.

Blueprints: Illustrative Mathematics

Didactic Contract

These blueprints, separated into each grade level, can help you navigate the State Standards. (Most State Standards, national and international, coincide with the CCSSM.) Each document offers an entry point that leverages student understanding and future grade level content. For example, in grade 1, if students start with 1.1, “Length and Number Lines,” it supports the Number Line model, vital to grade 1 work, right from the get-go.

Change Isn't Easy

Symphony Math’s Big Ideas and Learning Progressions are a true fit to the recommendations in the resources above. Yes, there is an order in your mathematics textbook, and your state’s Standards for Mathematics. But not all content is created equal. Without mastery of the foundations of number sense, your students cannot be expected to transfer their knowledge to specific math skills like measurement conversions, data analysis, etc.

In your mathematics class, and with Symphony Math's online and offline support, you can cluster similar ideas together, focus on critical concepts, and reallocate your time to insure your students build on the content emphasized in these documents. Give it a try, and use the changes that work the next time. In this way, your students will be more adept and flexible in all the concepts that follow from your grade content.

And that's the Buzz: Enjoy your week!
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