With April designated as Mathematics Awareness Month, it is a great time to reflect on what school systems and non-math teachers can do to support mathematics learning beyond the math department. Consider incorporating the following suggestions in your school to build a culture that embraces mathematics:
1. Incorporate the use of the Eight Mathematical Practices of the Common Core State Standards as quality instructional practices in all content areas.
The Eight Mathematical Practices can be reinforced in non-math subject areas when viewed as a list of critical thinking skills versus simply “math rules.” By having teachers post the following rules and refer to them in non-math classes, students gain an understanding that math is more than computation; it is real-world reasoning.
Eight Mathematical Practices:
- Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
- Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
- Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
- Model with mathematics.
- Use appropriate tools strategically.
- Attend to precision.
- Look for and make use of structure.
- Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.
Here are some great infographics on the Eight Mathematical Practices.
2. Host a school-wide “Math Night” for the community.
Open up your building for a night dedicated to the great math happenings in your building and provide resources for parents to practice with their students at home. This night can feature fun math games, student examples of math based projects, and allow parents to experiment with digital math intervention programs that students can do at home to master skills.
3. Focus on common vocabulary that supports math instruction.
With a little creativity, Common Core Math Vocabulary can be intertwined into the lessons of non-math classrooms. For example:
- Students can use geometric shapes in Art class
- Students can place events on a number line in Social Studies
- Students can explore units of measurement in Science
- English teachers can have students write in a sequence or read an informational text featuring a sample survey
Check out this list of CCSS vocabulary terms you might want to include.
4. Organize a “Spirit Day” dedicated to math.
Spirit days are a great way to break up a week and build excitement within a school. In April, plan a “Wear a Number Day” or feature math trivia in the hallways between classes. Another option is to create a human bar graph. Give students five color choices and encourage them to pick their favorite to wear on the announced day. Gather all the students together and create a human bar graph by lining up by color and then taking an aerial photo.
5. Create a bulletin board or school newsletter featuring interviews of local community members in math-related careers.
Ask students to collect interviews from local community members who use math in their careers. Afterwards, students can create a bulletin board or newsletter to share the information they received and what they learned from the interview process.
6. Make a showcase in the library of math-related books.
There are great books which use math-related content as key to their storyline. Check out the following links for lists of books for different age groups and topic areas: