Wednesday, September 5, 2012

New Routine: Compiling Mathematical Habits of Mind

Thanks to Avery, the phrase 'mathematical habits of mind' has been in my brain more lately. Now, every time I point out a mathematical habit of mind (MHOM) in class, I want students to add it to their growing list of MHOM. I ask them to turn to the last page of their notebooks and add it.

I've found myself doing this in each of my classes, and I think it's a great change to be making.

In my office, when I tell a student how to check their work, I have them write down: "Check the steps" on the last page of their notebook. And when I ask them to re-read the question when they're done, to see if they've answered it, I ask them to write: "Look back to see if I've answered the question I was trying to answer."

I've mentioned precision and organizing information. I think I've also mentioned trying a simpler problem first.

I've often mentioned these things in the past. (In fact, here's a blog post where I summarized some of these ideas.) What I'm doing differently is asking the students to compile a list of these ideas, to help them become more self-aware as they work on math.

Maybe a month or so into the semester, we can take some time out to discuss their lists and make a class list, with examples. I like where this is going.


  1. I think that I read the same post, and have been thinking about "Habits of the Mind" too (is that recursive?)

    I don't think I'm ready for specific examples and the folders yet, but I love your idea of a growing list.

    I was already thinking about havig the kids keeping some notes in a "key ideas" notebook - things like our first real math lesson tomorrow when I will have them do a note on "the perfect graph" and lable a graph like a scientific diagram with all the "must see"s.

    I'm learning that I need ot figure out what small piece of what I would call "master teaching" ideas are achievable right away, then incorporating smaller goals/routines/etc rather than starting too big and setting up a routine that I'm not ready to follow through with yet.

    Thanks for the great post and reminder!


  2. Yeah, I'm with you. Finding little bits that you can incorporate painlessly is important. This just fell into place this semester without me planning it at all.

  3. This is brilliant, and what I just realized I need to be consciously working on with my kids.


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