Is Math in Practice a curriculum?

No. This series is meant to fit with any curriculum, and to allow you to access strategies and activities based on whatever standards you are teaching. While Math in Practice does provide a wealth of activities for teaching math, it is intended to be much more than a collection of teaching ideas. It is designed to help you gain greater insight into the math you are teaching and discover more ways to teach it. It is filled with important tips and strategies for helping students better understand critical math skills and concepts.

NB: Grade level topic coverage may vary across Provinces in Canada. 

How are the grade-level books connected to the Guide for Teachers?

The Guide for Teachers explores teaching strategies that enhance students’ understanding of mathematics. The grade-level books illustrate those teaching strategies with specific activities that focus on grade-level math standards. In many places throughout the grade-level books, you will notice notes that refer you back to the Guide for Teachers for more information on the instructional strategy.

Are the modules in the grade-level books meant to be teaching units?

No. These modules are organized to allow teachers to easily access information about a math topic. They are not intended to be teaching units for students. In fact, students will retain information better if they revisit it throughout the year (e.g., you might explore fractions early in the year, then revisit the topic later in the year to extend the ideas). Revisiting modules throughout the year allows you to address the same math topic at different levels.

Are the modules in the grade-level books meant to be done in order?

No. Your district will likely have a pacing guide for you to follow. You can jump in and out of modules as needed, but will want to consider the prior skills your students will need as they explore a particular math topic. 

There are two activity sections in each module. What is the difference between them?

In each module you will find “Ideas for Instruction and Assessment” and “Additional Ideas for Support and Practice.”

“Ideas for Instruction and Assessment” contains ideas that can be easily developed into lessons. This section contains major teaching points and explores a variety of ways to help students understand a skill or concept. Most of the activities also have assessment components as you observe your students, listen to their explanations, and review their work. In addition, specific formative assessment tasks are highlighted in this section.

The “Additional Ideas for Support and Practice” contain suggestions for students who may need additional exposure to the skill, as well as a variety of practice tasks and challenge tasks, including center activities that provide meaningful practice.

A few modules in grades 1-3, which focus on basic math facts, have a different structure. These modules include “Ideas for Instruction and Assessment” as in the other modules, but instead of the “Additional Ideas for Support and Practice” section, these modules contain a variety of activities intended to build students’ fluency with the basic facts.

How can I get insight into the critical math ideas in each module?

At the start of each module is a section called “About the Math” in which the key math ideas are discussed, including situating the math in a learning progression (what students should have learned before, and what they will be learning in future years). This can help you identify skills your students may need additional practice with; you can refer to previous grade-level books for ideas to help you build those prerequisite skills and understandings. 

What kinds of teaching supports are found in the lesson ideas?

One of the most significant components of math teaching is the questions we ask our students. Our questions have the power to advance their thinking, as well as provide us with critical assessment information. To get you thinking about the types of questions you might ask related to a specific math skill, we have generated questions for you to consider. Asking pairs to discuss the questions, then having students share their thinking with the class, ensures that all students are thinking about the key ideas of the lesson.

You will also find notes that address typical errors and misconceptions. Recognizing those typical errors allows us to design our teaching to address them, and to be vigilant as we listen and watch our students at work.

You’ll also see general teaching notes that highlight opportunities for differentiation, specific examples of the pedagogical strategies from the Guide for Teachers, and other hints and suggestions from teachers who have used these activities.

I noticed some lessons labeled “Thinking Through a Lesson.” What is different about these lessons?

Thinking Through a Lesson indicates reflective lessons that allow you to hear the thinking of the teacher who designed the activity. In each module, you will find one of these lessons that contains multiple teacher notes to explain the teaching choices, talk about possible misconceptions, or share tips for supporting learners. In these lessons, anticipated student responses are included to give you an idea of the type of math talk that is likely to occur during the lessons. In addition, the pertinent Standards for Mathematical Practice are indicated to allow you to reflect on how these critical standards are integrated into the lesson.

What is available in the online resources?

There are a wealth of online resources available including recording sheets, center activity templates, spinners and other tools, and additional problem-solving tasks related to each module. Throughout the grade-level books you will notice small images indicating some of these resources, however, take the time to explore the online resources because there is more there than can be shown in the grade-level books. 

How can I modify the online activities?

Many of the online resources are in Microsoft Word format, so they can be used with interactive whiteboards and easily customized to meet your students’ needs. You might decide to personalize the tasks with your students’ names, modify the data to make it simpler or more complex, or delete sections to shorten the task. The resources are templates that can be used as is or modified in any way that works for your students.