Positive Norms to Encourage in the Classroom

More great stuff from Jo Boaler at youcubed.org. I’ve been following Jo avidly since taking her amazing online class “How to Learn Math” from Stanford University. The class is free.

Recently they added a poster listing seven positive messages and norms for the math classroom. If you’d like to put it up in yours, you can download it in PDF here.

Download (PDF, Unknown)

1. Everyone Can Learn Math to the Highest Levels.
Encourage students to believe in themselves. There is no such thing as a “math” person. Everyone can reach the highest levels they want to, with hard work.

2. Mistakes are Valuable
Mistakes grow your brain! It is good to struggle and make mistakes.

3. Questions are Really Important
Always ask questions, always answer ques- tions. Ask yourself: why does that make sense?

4. Math is about Creativity and Making Sense
Math is a very creative subject that is, at its core, about visualizing patterns and creating solution paths that others can see, discuss and critique.

5. Math is about Connections and Communicating
Math is a connected subject, and a form of communication. Represent math in different forms eg words, a picture, a graph, an equation, and link them. Color code!

6. Depth is much more Important than Speed
Top mathematicians, such as Laurent Schwartz, think slowly and deeply.

7. Math Class is about Learning not Performing
Math is a growth subject, it takes time to learn and it is all about effort.



Suggestions for Making Math Real for your Elementary and Middle Schoolers

Praise the Effort
Praise the Effort

Here are some suggestions for things you can do to help your child with math outside of school.

Every night during dinner or after, have a math minute: ask your child what they learned in math class that day. Was it fun? Give your child a mental math problem based on what they learned that day.

Make sure the mental math problems aren’t too hard. If necessary, make the problems easier – but never be negative or display disappointment. Just be excited when they get one right. Always praise the effort, regardless of the results.

Additional suggestions:

    • Make a point to praise your child’s effort in math, regardless of the results
    • Ask if class was fun today, was the test fun?
    • If you cook, have your child help you with the measurements, especially if you have to adjust the recipe.
    • If you don’t know the meaning of a word on the homework, don’t be afraid to look it up, but don’t use yahoo answers, wikipedia is fine, or a math website.
    • Have your child re-teach you what she learned in class today
    • Take your child shopping and compare prices in differently sized bottles. On your smart phone show her how to check the price per ounce (before you show her that it is often written on the shelf) to decide which one to buy.
    • Shopping: if something is on sale, have her figure out the discount and the price.