Two Things

I love to read research about education. I try to use research to inform my teaching. But the reality is that research is full of correlations, contradictions, and vague advice that doesn’t feel applicable to classrooms.

If I were to summarize the biggest theme in education research relevant to math teachers it would be simple: spaced practice is the most important ingredient in learning. The first thing teachers should prioritize is practice, and whenever possible to space that practice out over time.

If I were to summarize the biggest thing I have learned about teaching that, while there is not much research behind it, is critical for learning it would also be pretty simple: have students practice in as many different forms as possible. Have them notice, wonder, calculate, predict, estimate, guess, check, reflect, describe, draw, move, argue, read, interpret, analyze, and more.

There’s more to teaching than practice. But these days when I think about planning I ask myself, “how do I want students to practice this math?” Then, I ask, “what is the best and fastest way to set them up for success with that practice?”

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