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My Reflection: Mathematical Thinking

As I reflect on the pages of my reflective journal of thirteen weeks, I see a person that has
grown in knowledge, experience, depth, and empathy for others. So, as I reflect on the notes I
have written from observing students in the classroom I
recognize the need to speak to children growing in their
mathematical thinking.
Imagine with me if you would, being in a 21st
century classroom where students are learning in an
environment that says, "You are safe and free to learn here. When the role of teacher was
handed over to me by my corresponding teacher, math was one of the first instructions I planned
and prepared to write lesson plans for. I found myself constantly thinking how can I make this
lesson more appealing and hands on for my students? How can I make it so they thirst to learn
more? The more I planned the more I wanted to implement lessons to help my students acquire
the skills and knowledge necessary for their success.
How was Student Teaching Affected?
One day as I was sitting at my desk having lunch (at this school lunch is eaten in the
classroom), when one of my students walked up and

reciting math facts. I looked at him and said, Tell me


Then I asked, John, how do you know eight hundred

plus one

hundred equals a thousand (800 + 100 = 1,000)? His


was I just know which led to a teachable moment for

me. Even thou most of the numeric concepts John was reciting were incorrect, to me it was


okay because I realized I had established the foundation to develop the building blocks that
would form the basis for his future learning opportunities. In saying this, I seized that
opportunity and others to support John owning his own learning by engaging him in forming and
correctly answering mathematical concepts he could apply his mathematical thinking to. If such
an opportunity had been missed, I would have missed a chance to influence how this student
would choose to engage in future educational
opportunities. For this was a student that never
wanted you to help him, his favorite words were
always, No, I can do it, I dont need any help.
Have you ever had the occasion to meet a student
such as John? Well John gave me my first insight into what it means to give the love of
mathematics to a child. This recognition showed me the importance of not only developing
numeracy early on in a childs life but also to forming the thought process that would eventually
lead to developing the mathematical thinking behind their thought process.
How was Student Learning Affected?
Researchers continue to validate children begin to develop their ability to think
mathematically at an early age. Bobis et al. (2005) argued that many young learners arrive at
school equipped with the beginning skills of the number system and how it works. However,
researcher have found that even as early as age five, children display a huge disparity of
understanding in their ability to understand what is
being taught. This being so, we further see that
children tend to remain at about the same rank


order position to their peers throughout their primary and secondary school years, Bobis, et al
(2005). Recognizing this to be so, because I understand the importance to children developing
and understanding their mathematical thinking at an early age I designed my lesson plans to
place emphasis on questioning the how and Why of the
answer, rather than the answer itself. How was student
learning affected, now when I ask John or the other students
leading questions to stimulate their mathematical thinking,
(e.g., how else could you have solved this problem, can you
tell me how you arrived at your answer, what could you
have done differently, how did you know X + X was X)
some of the students try to form answers such as, I counted on my fingers, I used my inside
mind, I remembered if there are dots in each of the squares thats five, so I counted on.
What Have You Learned?
What have I learned? My student teaching assignment has taught me how to teach, how
to recognize teachable moments, how to recognize where students are in their learning, and from
there be able to guide them to the realization of where they need to be. This experience has
further taught me to focus in on what is developmentally appropriate for the students. Prior to
entering the classroom I never quite understood how the process of implementing Danielsons
Framework for Teaching; planning and preparing, the classroom environment, instructions, and
professional responsibilities interrelated to make a cohesive circle of learning for the students.
Every domain has to fix or the learning experience will not meet the learning potential of the
students. I learned to put the children in the center, with everything surrounding them to be
continuous looking for ways to provide a safe, but challenging environment that is conducive to


learning and growing as a person. My student teaching experience has further enlightened me on
understanding that One Shoe Doesnt Fit All. Because I recognize this, the diverse population
of students in the 21st century classrooms today will have a chance at learning hands on at
their own level and dispel the research that most children tend to continue the educational
ranking with their peers through primary and secondary school that they started school with
(Bobis, 2005). I also learned that if young learners arent caught early in their learning growth
that the habits of learning will have been set, which could cause the students to fail. So, I have
learned to provide for collaborative learning where students can interact, plan, analyze, and
evaluate their own performance.
What goal have you set for yourself as a result Of this learning?
My goal and philosophy is to provide my students with an interactive hands on
environment, where they will no longer have to sit while the Teacher stands up front talking.
They will have the opportunity to collaborate with one
another, and own their learning. This will be accomplished
in a data driven environment where multimedia is prevalent
and educational. Students will also be given the opportunity
to have a variety of assessments to determine the need for
differentiated instructional practices to support their needs. In saying this, I will have to keep
ISTE for Students at the forefront of my teaching in this digital global environment. In order to
accomplish this I will:

Be grounded in the characteristics of ISTE for Teachers


Support the premise that children learn by doing, through the use of various instructional

Provide the safe learning environment that allows the child to succeed

Support the children owning their own learning

Understand that one shoe doesnt fit all

Engage in continuous professional development and collaborate with peers to ensure I

can support my students learning

Help my students acquire the skills and knowledge necessary for their success

Be open, fair, and receptive to their needs

As an educator, practice and live by Danielsons Framework for Teaching

Let my students know it is okay to fail as long as they try

Let them know they cant succeed if they havent failed

Teach them how to make correct choices, for their choices will define who they are and
who they become

Let them know that practice reinforces skills taught in the classroom and is essential to
Ultimately, my goal is to provide my students with
the tools and strategies to become successful and
engaged learners who will be excited about each phase
of their educational development. I recognize that as
educators, we have to catch our young learner early in
life in order for them to develop the building blocks

that form the foundation for future learning opportunities. If such an opportunity is missed, we


will have missed a chance to influence how students will choose to engage in future educational
My Reflection on Mathematical Thinking
In sum, I chose to highlight the development of mathematical thinking in childrens earlier
years of schools because it will eventually define who they become academically in
mathematics, during their primary and secondary school years. This speaks to understanding
that if the basic concept of mathematical thinking isnt taught to our young learners as they
progress through school, frustration and failure to understand numeracy could cause the children
to stop trying to reach their learning potential. Mathematical thinking is attainable. This is what
I will share with my students.


Bobis, J., Clarke, B., Clarke, D., Thomas, G., Wright, R., Young-Loveridge, J., Gould, P. (2005).
Mathematics Education Research Journal, vol-16, # 3, 27 - 57
Capacity Building Series, Asking Effective Questions, (2011). Retrieved from the web