Beth Kobett, Associate Professor of Education, published an entry on the regular feature “Classroom Q&A” of the Education Week blog in response to the question, “What are the biggest mistakes made in math instruction and what should teachers do instead?”
With the goal of making mathematics accessible, teachers often break math down into parts and deliver small pieces of mathematics content to their students. Dr. Kobett observes, “Parsing mathematics into bite-sized chunks may work in the short term because students can produce answers, but when teachers do this, students don't see how the small piece of mathematics that they are learning at that moment is connected to more comprehensive conceptual ideas.” Instead, Dr. Kobett recommends that teachers select mathematics tasks that encompass bigger ideas, which provide more entry points for students to access the mathematics, develop mathematical language, and connect to prior learning. Teachers can facilitate student learning by asking probing questions and use student work to examine the mathematics in a meaningful, connected, and visible way.
Dr. Kobett is past-president of the Maryland Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators and a current member of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Board of Directors.