Menu
Jump to content

What's with the ads?

Homeschoolmom3

Mindset Mathematics by Jo Boaler any users?

Recommended Posts

Curious to see if anyone has used these books for each grade?  They look intriguing but I was curious to see if anyone has used them and how they went about it.  Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know the books, but I'm pretty suspicious of Jo Boaler. She's very single-mindedly into the idea of "conceptual mathematics," without admitting that these things are tricky and that it's not enough just to have kids stare at problems or do open exploration. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Square!

Can you please elaborate on this short comment?  I was a public school math teacher ages ago.  Now that all my kids are old enough, I have been teaching homeschool classes for the last few years.  I began reading and getting back into the world of mathematics education.  Ideas have really changed.  She is super-popular on the math teacher blogs.  But I just don't get it.  I would love to have more detailed opinion from you about her reforms.

Thanks in advance.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, LJPPKGFGSC said:

Hi Square!

Can you please elaborate on this short comment?  I was a public school math teacher ages ago.  Now that all my kids are old enough, I have been teaching homeschool classes for the last few years.  I began reading and getting back into the world of mathematics education.  Ideas have really changed.  She is super-popular on the math teacher blogs.  But I just don't get it.  I would love to have more detailed opinion from you about her reforms.

Thanks in advance.

I had a blog post saved that explained it really well, but it no longer seems to be up :-(. It’s too bad, because it really went into the details of the issues.

Basically, she seems to really oversimplify everything. I’m actually a fan of discovery-based mathematics, but she really downplays the need for fluency in a very unhelpful way. And she seems to think all math can be reduced to “fun explorations,” whereas I think of teaching math as building up a complicated conceptual edifice in a student’s brain. 

She also doesn’t seem to believe in any kind of evaluation of her methods by testing, which basically means her statements are practically unfalsifiable. (If we can only judge by portfolio, and the people judging the portfolios are already converts... well, you can see what happens.)

I do agree with her that a really serious focus on algorithms hasn’t, on average, benefited the American student. But when you throw away the old, you better have something to replace it with, and I don’t think she does.

Edited by square_25
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Math has definitely changed it seems like they are focusing more on children’s way of getting to a problem - “the ideas” and less on it being strictly obeying a set of rules. I do you find this fascinating that there are many ways to arrive at a problem and to encourage and explore this with our children.  I have incorporated this in my kids learning and I am often amazed that the way they arrive at a problem is not the same as how I would conqueror a problem. I think since I was taught the more rule based way I don’t look for other ideas on how to solve a problem and how many ways could be done a lot easier. I think it’s vital that we listen to our kids and their thinking and how they arrive at a problem and not to always have them want to answer in a way that we are instructing... to be open to other ideas. That is what I see is the push right now and I also find that this helps and instill the love of math and not quenching our kids spirits.

I have taken a peek at her books but it seems more geared for the classroom. I am however a fan of Marilyn Burns works and try to incorporate those ideas.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, Homeschoolmom3 said:

Math has definitely changed it seems like they are focusing more on children’s way of getting to a problem - “the ideas” and less on it being strictly obeying a set of rules. I do you find this fascinating that there are many ways to arrive at a problem and to encourage and explore this with our children.  I have incorporated this in my kids learning and I am often amazed that the way they arrive at a problem is not the same as how I would conqueror a problem. I think since I was taught the more rule based way I don’t look for other ideas on how to solve a problem and how many ways could be done a lot easier. I think it’s vital that we listen to our kids and their thinking and how they arrive at a problem and not to always have them want to answer in a way that we are instructing... to be open to other ideas. That is what I see is the push right now and I also find that this helps and instill the love of math and not quenching our kids spirits.

I have taken a peek at her books but it seems more geared for the classroom. I am however a fan of Marilyn Burns works and try to incorporate those ideas.

Yes. I’m a mathematician by training and I’m emphatically in favor of that kind of mindset. I’m just afraid that people will be put off this approach by poorly designed programs.

I like Marilyn Burns :-). I don’t always agree with her, but she’s thoughtful and evidence-driven.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wouldn't use anything from Jo Boaler.  She is more interested in eliciting warm and fuzzy feelings than in teaching math.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, these are not the kinds of thoughtful, evidence-based responses I am used to on this board!!  

I used the third grade book last year with a tag-along first grader and tag-along fifth grader and liked it enough to buy the fourth and fifth grade books for this year.  Perhaps some of our experience might help you get a feel for the program (and for context, Singapore is our main program).  I felt its biggest strength was that it let me teach a genuine family math lesson.  It de-emphasises calculation and it was really easy for me on the fly to stretch just a little for the fifth grader, scaffold just a little for the first grader, and let the third grader continue on as written.  Group work in maths was new for them, and I felt it was helpful for them to explain to a younger kid, be stretched by an older kid, or sometimes be shown up by someone smaller who was working harder and coming up with good insights!

It's fairly open-and-go - you might need to photocopy some pages but these are included right in the book.  The third grade book did require a geoboard, which I bought specially.  It's also colourful, visual, high interest stuff designed to draw kids in (and parents!).  Having said that, it's also definitely aimed at the classroom.  Lots of activities involve working in groups and then coming together to combine discoveries, do "gallery walks", generate multiple possibilities, and I felt the lack of these other groups - insights or data collected by others would likely have catalysed the kids' discovery of ideas.  I think it would work really nicely as a fortnightly math group activity with maybe 8-12 kids but haven't yet screwed up my courage to invite others to join us 🙂

It's definitely not a year's worth of work.  The books have around 8-10 chapters depending on the grade level, with three activities per chapter, and for us a chapter equates to about a week's work.  Sometimes they were light weeks, other times the material naturally spilled over across multiple days.  I also liked that it was very different work than Singapore - still conceptual, but emphasising drawing, exploring ideas, multiple ways of seeing.  My drill-and-kill-loving ISTJ kid was challenged in a good way by a program that asked him to slow down, stop focusing on the end result, and think deeply and visually.  My math-phobic niece benefited from seeing math lessons with surprisingly few numbers and experiencing success understanding ideas and connections instead of freezing up expecting a bad experience.  My arty first grader loved getting away from addition and subtraction algorithms for a few weeks and enjoying the patterns and visual aspect of math, connecting something he has to do daily to something he naturally loves.

You're probably aware of Jo Boaler's youcubed.org website and its free "Week of Inspirational Math" activities.  I think these are a fair representation of the kinds of activities you'll find in the Mindset Mathematics books, although the books I've seen are almost all new material (we had seen one activity from the third grade book before on the website).  If you haven't seen them, I'd recommend starting there to see if the activities are a good fit for you. [Edit to add: although they are the same "flavor", the activities on the website are more scattershot ones than the books, which are carefully arranged to progress in difficulty and highlight connections to previous topics.]

For what it's worth, I see the publisher Wiley has the books half price this week for Teacher Appreciation Week with code TAM50, so this might be a serendipitous time to get one if you do decide to check it out!

Edited by caffeineandbooks
Clarity in second to last paragraph
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for your insights!  Yes, I saw the discount and why I was looking into it.  It seemed to be more geared for the classroom and wondering if it would work with only one kid.  My other boys are gone and so I am only teaching one right now.  🙂  Thanks for your detailed reply helpful!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...