Minds on Mathematics Chapter 4

Chapter 4 of Minds on Mathematics discusses the idea of Community within the classroom.  Again I'm linking up with Sherrie and Middle School Math Rules for our book discussion.
The Problem of the Day:  How can we cultivate communities of thinkers that catalyze math learning?

I love Hoffer's idea that you must craft a culture of community within your classroom.  I think that many times in a middle school, teachers have so many students to teach that it is difficult to find time to add in this important element.  Luckily for me I teach on a team.  This past year we were a group of 3. This made me responsible for 3 math classes and one ELA block of 80 minutes.  We spent time as a team working with students on making a community.  I also spent a lot of time in my ELA class modeling what I was expecting of groups in my literature circles.  One piece that was missing was that time spent in my math classes.  Group time worked, because one third of each of my classes was made up of ELA kids, and they knew what group work entailed because they had practiced and modeled it with reading and writing.  What I think I need to spend more time on this year is bringing in the entire group.  This will be a  little easier for because I am down to a two man team, and I will be responsible for 2 math classes and a social studies class instead of 3 math.

Hoffer stresses three major points in this chapter in discussing Community:
Intention:  Develop a vision and work toward it.  I liked this idea because it is coming up in another professional development book I am reading called Teach Like A Pirate by Dave Burgess.
Interdependence:  Create opportunities for students to co-create and discuss
Homeostasis:  Find a way to balance socio-emotional forces as they shift in your classroom.

The biggest thing I got from this is MODEL MODEL MODEL the behavior and group work you want to see.  Although that nasty time element is still showing up, I am hoping that if I spend a little extra time in September focusing on the idea of this community, I will see the results applied in multitude throughout the year.  I know I do in ELA, I think it is about time the same is applied to other content areas.  This leads me to think more about Mentor Text as well.  I use this when I can, and do much more of it in ELA, but I'm going to try and incorporate more of it in Math as well.  I think it would be another way to show cross-curricular learning... <Hello Common Core>

What do you do to foster a sense of community within your classroom?  I would love to hear your ideas.  Especially if you switch classes!

The second part of Minds on Mathematics actually focuses on setting up the environment of Math Workshop in the classroom.  I am hoping it is the practical side to this study.


  1. I really liked this chapter about community. It really seems like you have an advantage by having done workshop with your ELA students. I have four different classes that I teach math.

    I do agree with you that spending the time up front to establish this community of learners will pay off the rest of the year.

  2. Can you come back to Florida and teach my son Middle School Stuff...please!..{still doing my 5K every morning, but some days it's only 3K}

  3. I'm with you on the idea of intention. I find that sometimes I think I'm being intentional, when I'm really just making a last minute decision and hoping it works. The intention piece is what I'm going to focus on this year.

    Best of luck to you!


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