Math Is for Everyone
The SFUSD Math Core Curriculum is built with all students in mind.
The Guiding Principles for SFUSD Math are:
● All students can and should develop a belief that mathematics is sensible, worthwhile, and doable.
● All students are capable of making sense of mathematics in ways that are creative, interactive, and relevant.
● All students can and should engage in rigorous mathematics through rich, challenging tasks.
● Students’ academic success in mathematics must not be predictable on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, language, religion, sexual orientation, cultural affiliation, or special needs.
What is Universal Design for Learning (UDL)?
Universal Design means lessons that are designed from the beginning to be accessible to all kinds of learners. It comes from the world of architecture, in which buildings are designed to serve everyone, so that a ramp would help not only someone in a wheelchair, but also someone with a baby carriage or someone pulling a dolly. Universal Design for Learning brings this idea of meeting the needs of all people into curriculum design; UDL does not go back and “retrofit” for some students but is built from the outset with all students in mind. In the case of the SFUSD Math Core Curriculum, the central role that the rich math task plays is evidence of this design principle. There are many ways to enter into a problem, and many ways of showing your thinking. A rich math task is often described as having a “low floor and high ceiling”—all learners can access it according to their own competency and background knowledge, and learn alongside peers with different strengths. While the research of UDL is most often associated with Special Education, it is a design principle that we hold at the center of our unit structure, with the core belief that rich mathematics is for all students every day.
What does this mean for our English language learners?
The California English Language Development Standards, adopted in November of 2012, describe three modes of communication in Part I: Interacting in Meaningful Ways: Collaborative, Interpretive, and Productive. The SFUSD PreK-12 Math Teaching Toolkit names three signature pedagogies built around these modes of communication, where all students are reasoning mathematically, defending their reasoning, and listening to and critiquing the reasoning of others in small group and whole group structures. This emphasis on discourse builds students’ proficiency in English and also their proficiency in mathematics. The two should not be seen as separate. Along with the CCSS-ELA and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), the CA ELD standards are part of a national standards movement that places academic discourse at the center of student learning.
Math Ability is not Fixed
A Simple Numbers Game Seems to Make Kids Better at Math
Read about how Johns Hopkins University researchers boosted kindergarteners’ arithmetic performance by exercising their intuitive number sense with a quick computer game.
“Math ability is not static—it’s not the case that if you’re bad at math, you’re bad at it the rest of your life. It’s not only changeable, it can be changeable in a very short period of time,” said Jinjing “Jenny” Wang, a graduate student in the Krieger School of Arts and Science’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. “We used a five-minute game to change kids’ math performance.”
Creativity in Mathematics
"When parents and educators model creative engagement with mathematics, children come to see math as more than simply a set of facts and operations. We want our students to become mathematical thinkers, not mathematical machines..."
This article from KQED's Mindshift describes some of the ways that creativity infused mathematics. Teachers and parents can help children when they:
Social and Emotional Learning and Mathematics
Teaching involves developing the whole child, not only as good mathematicians but as good people—friends, colleagues, innovators, and citizens. Problem solving is not only a quantitative challenge but a human one. We can engage students in deeply understanding what resolving problems entails and what it feels like, which is satisfying for children and adults alike. Find out more.