Slow Math is … Slow Conversations

At the beginning of our polygons unit, students played a round of hexagons polygraph in Desmos. One student is the picker and another is the guesser. The picker selects a hexagon, and the guesser asks yes or no questions to determine which one was selected.

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Let’s take a look at a round between SO and SA. SO selected a hexagon. SA asked:

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SO answered no.

SA eliminated one.

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SO answered no.

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SA eliminated two.

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SO answered no.

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SA eliminated three more.

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SO answered no, and SA eliminated all but one.

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What a great way for students to learn how to practice MP6: attend to precision. In a whole class discussion, we talked about what it meant for a polygon to be regular. We talked about convex and concave. We talked about symmetry. It turns out that the hexagon SO chose actually does have rotational symmetry – it just didn’t have line symmetry like the rest. My students and I have so many opportunities to learn from each other when we take time to slow down, share our thinking, and listen to other’s thinking.

After a round of Polygraph last year, one student reflected that he learned that he could ask questions to find an answer.

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Which has me thinking more about Slow Conversations. The Polygraph practice round celebrates the beauty and diversity of all of our students.

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How might we teach our students to embrace that diversity by not only asking questions to identify and learn about each other’s uniqueness but also listening to each other’s responses? That’s where Slow Math intersects with Slow Conversations.


Work vs. Learning

I’ve been reading Creating Cultures of Thinking: The 8 Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform Our Schools by Ron Ritchhart this summer.

In his chapter on Expectations, Ritchhart wonders “What difference does it make if a teacher asks, ‘Is your work done?’ or ‘Where are you in your learning?’”

He cites a study in one London school that found the word “work” was used forty-nine times more often than the word “learning” when teachers were talking with students. Since I’ve read this chapter, I’ve noticed some of my friends and colleagues using “work” vs. “learning” in conversation about classes and students.

I wonder whether asking “Where are you in your learning” has something to do with the Slow Math Movement.

How might students respond to “Is your work done?” versus “Where are you in your learning?”

To which question would a student answer:

I am almost finished.

I am finished.

I’m on #17.

I have learned ___.

I still wonder ___.

I have figured out ___, but I have a question about ___.

I need to know ___.

What’s the point of doing this?

How often do we introduce a task with an emphasis on the learning that can occur from it? How often do we introduce an assignment with an emphasis on the requirements of the assignment?

What will you do to make it evident to your students that you want to “focus on the learning”?

Ritchhart, Ron. “Expectations: Recognizing How Our Beliefs Shape Our Behavior.” Creating Cultures of Thinking: The 8 Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform Our Schools. Jossey-Bass, 2015. 43-46. Print.