Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Building Mathematical Comprehension Chapter 9

Monitoring Mathematical Comprehension

How will our students monitor their comprehension?  They need to have a wide variety of comprehension strategies in their tool belt in order to do this. All the strategies we have been reading about will come into play when students are monitoring their comprehension.

First step: Conceptual Understanding
Students need to become active, engaged participants in their thinking. Yes- they need to "think about their thinking." Sammons provides for us great "Fix-Up" strategies that become the students responsibility to use when they do not understand. It is important for students to be responsible for this process. Only they know when their understanding breaks down. Explicit questions to pose: 
  1. How do you know whether or not you understand?
  2. What do you do if you are confused?
Second Step: Problem Solving
Have you ever had a student who would start a problem and attempt just about everything, but never really stop to understand what the problem was about? I have. This is often true of our struggling readers who focus on a word or two and start trying to problem solve. Sammons emphasized the importance of spending time helping students to look at how to find the "overall meaning" to problems.

Then, students need to develop a plan of attack. They need to be aware of connections between things and how to link it to the unknown data. So, they need to understand the problem and how the mathematical concepts are related.

Sammons shared a "Comprehension Checklist" that will help students monitor their comprehension.
I took it and made it my own, but it is all Sammons. Click pic to download.
Here are some signs that students should be aware of to help them know that their comprehension has broken down.
  • Your internal voice interacting with math concept or problem
  • You are unable to visualize math concept or problem
  • Your mind wanders away from work at hand
  • You are unable to recall details of math idea or problem
  • You cannot find answers to questions asked to clarify meaning
I had to create something handy dandy to keep these close and readily accessible

    Sammons suggests that students brainstorm "Fix-Up" strategies and create a chart they can refer to. She also provides lots of suggestions. Click pic to download.
    I am so thankful that now I have additional resources to help my students who struggle. The result of modeling this strategy and doing think alouds consistently will be that they now have resources that will allow them to be successful.
    Other suggestions to continually have students monitor their comprehension are:
    • Ticket out the Door- students can explain their understanding and also rate their understanding
    • Comprehension Constructor- provides scaffolding for students fix-up strategy and overall plan
    • Color-Coded Metacognition Math Stretches- students reflect on a word or concept and use a color to represent their understanding
    Amazing strategies for our students to surpass those "comprehension roadblocks."


    1. Did anyone else having difficulty downloading these? They are fabulous and I would like to use them but they say I have to have access.


    2. Sorry, I fixed the problem. So, you should be able to download now.



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