Jeff McCalla, Confessions of a Wannabe Super Teacher, published some really good thinking about collaboration vs. competition. In his post, he describes challenging his learners to investigate the following:
Which of these product rules could be used to quickly expand (x+y+3)(x+y-3)? Now, try expanding the expression.
Jennifer Wilson, Easing the Hurry Syndrome, and I have been tinkering with and drafting #LL2LU learning progressions for the Standards of Mathematical Practice. I have really struggled to get my head wrapped around the meaning of I can look for and make use of structure, SMP-7. The current draft, to date, looks like this:
What if I tried to apply my understanding of I can look for and make use of structure to Jeff’s challenge?
Note: There is a right parenthesis missing in the figure above.
It should have (x+y)² in the area that represents (x+y)(x+y).
What if we coach our learners to make their thinking visible? What if we use learning progressions for self-assessment, motivation, and connected thinking? I admit that I was quite happy with myself with all that pretty algebra, but then I read the SMP-7 learning progression. Could I integrate geometric and algebraic reasoning to confirm structure? How flexible am I as a mathematical thinker? I lack confidence with geometric representation using algebra tiles, so it is not my go to strategy. However, in the geometric representation, I found what Jeff was seeking for his learners. I needed to see x+y as a single object.
How might we model making thinking visible in conversation and in writing? How might we encourage productive peer-to-peer discourse around mathematics? How might we facilitate opportunities for in-the-moment self- and peer-assessment that is formative, constructive, and growth-oriented?