What is a Thinking Classroom?
"What was missing for these students, and their teachers, was a central focus in mathematics on thinking. The realization that this was absent in so many classrooms that I visited motivated me to find a way to build, within these same classrooms, a culture of thinking, both for the student and the teachers. I wanted to build, what I now call, a thinking classroom – a classroom that is not only conducive to thinking but also occasions thinking, a space that is inhabited by thinking individuals as well as individuals thinking collectively, learning together, and constructing knowledge and understanding through activity and discussion."
Peter Liljedahl, Simon Fraser University, Canada
Why is Math Taught Differently Now?
We want to teach students to be creative, flexible with number, fluent with calculation, and engaged problem-solvers. The 2007 Alberta K-9 Mathematics Program of Studies states,“The main goals of mathematics education are to prepare students to
use mathematics confidently to solve problems
communicate and reason mathematically
appreciate and value mathematics
make connections between mathematics and its applications
commit themselves to lifelong learning
become mathematically literate adults, using mathematics to contribute to society” (p. 2).
The traditional approaches we have been using are no longer sufficient for today's students. We do not want teachers to instruct mathematics in the same way it was delivered 20 years ago. We do not live in a math literate society, but our students should be given this opportunity. Mathematics competency should be viewed much like reading and writing – as a basic expectation.
The traditional model for teaching mathematics has proven to be unsuccessful for a significant portion of our population. We have all heard adults proclaim their dislike for math and/or their math anxiety. This is the culture we have built with mathematics. Change needs to occur – change in competency, change in attitude, change in instruction.
Math is taught differently because we know better how the brain learns mathematics. We know how children learn mathematics. We need to teach for understanding; help them make connections, solve problems, communicate, estimate and do mental math, reason, visualize. Our job is to make sure that every student has the opportunities to become a successful, confident mathematical learner.
Reflections of Students Learning in a Thinking Classroom...
A High School student talking about learning math through problem solving in a "thinking classroom".
A grade 8 student and her mother talking about learning math through problem solving in a "thinking classroom".
Parent Math Night
A video presentation of our Parent Math Night to explain how math is being taught as well as some personal strategies students may be using for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
Early Numeracy Night
A video presentation of our Early Numeracy Night to explain how to help develop number sense in young children (3-5 years old).
Why is math taught so differently now?Dr. Raj Shah explains why math is taught differently than it was in the past and helps address parents' misconceptions about the "new math".
Dr. James Tanton is a research mathematician with a PhD from Princeton, a former high school teacher and a presenter who makes the most complex mathematics make so much sense.
Dan Meyer taught high school math to students who didn't like high school math. He advocates for better math instruction. He speaks internationally and was named one of Tech & Learning's 30 Leaders of the Future.
Jo Boaler is named by the BBC as one of eight people who are challenging the future of education with concrete solutions to transform students' math experiences that are linked to brain research.