Inquiry Supports Common Core Math Instruction at Melrose Leadership Academy
At Melrose Leadership Academy, a K-8 dual language school in Oakland Unified School District, teachers are thinking together about how to support students as they tackle the increased text complexity of the Common Core standards, including in mathematics.
Third grade teacher Charity Johnson is considering how student discourse during math can support conceptual understanding of math problems. By listening to audio data, she realized that when working in groups her students were not participating in the ways she had hoped.
“I was surprised that what I thought was happening in the conversations was not happening. But that’s okay, because it actually helped me clarify what my indicators are, which is more about developing ideas, building off those ideas and actually listening to another’s ideas. And I’m excited to scaffold this with some protocols.”
Charity’s next steps? To create a group protocol that explicitly brings in these constructive conversation skills and then come back to her data source in February to see if there is evidence of student progress.
Middle school math teachers at Melrose Leadership Academy are working on a joint inquiry project. As the teacher scholars look closely over time at how their focal students are using annotation to support comprehension of multi-step math tasks, they are becoming increasingly more clear about what they want their students to know and be able to do, how to explicitly communicate and model this goal, and what the developmental trajectory might be for students on the path to success.
Asucena Davila, who teaches sixth grade, reflected on how looking at student work with her colleagues helps her appreciate student assets as a starting point.
“Sometimes my expectations are up here [points up] and I’m missing things that other people see. There is evidence that they are annotating, even though it’s not [exactly] what I want them to be doing.”
The work of these teachers illustrates how the collaborative data analysis– a hallmark of our inquiry process– gives teachers an opportunity to capture elements of classroom life and student thinking that often go unnoticed in the fast paced cacophony of classroom life.
At each of our Mills Teacher Scholars sessions, teachers like Charity and Asucena come to new understandings about their students’ learning and act on these to improve instruction.