Collab Lab 12 Recap & Notes

Middle School Math – What should we be trying?

Yesterday’s Collab Lab was a joint effort with Milwaukee Succeeds.  We pulled together a small group focused on middle school math– what factors lead to student success and what gets in the way.  We’ll reconvene the group in October as they work as a cohort to implement the strategies we discussed. Notes from our session are below.

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    A visual recap of the discussion from Collab Lab 12 on middle school math.

    Contributing Factors


    High quality instruction*

    • Procedural vs. conceptual knowledge
    • Real world application
    • Productive struggle
    • Engaging/interactive content
    • Project based learning
    • Teacher approach
    • Facilitating math discourse/connections
    • Culturally responsive practices
    • Clear objectives
    • Small group instruction
    • Student-centered
    • Differentiation
    • Student goal setting

    Committed leadership*

    Teacher support (coaching/mentoring)

    Culture of taking risks and experimentation

    Parent engagement/advocacy/attitude


    Common Core State Standards

    Cross-sector collaboration and best practice sharing

    Math enrichment programs

    • Coding

    Growth Mindset of principals, teachers, parents, and students

    Role models mirror students

    Increase discourse in math class

    • Begin math discourse in early grades
    • Track student responses to ensure equity
    • Provide wait time
    • Try “Bounce back”
    • Use “Turn and talk”
    • “I notice, I wonder” stems
    • Pose open ended questions
    • Setting up the physical space to promote discussion

    Build committed leadership

    • Brookhill (One day PD to show quality instruction)
    • Schools That Can Milwaukee

    Predict where students may struggle and set them up for success

    Continued Learning for teachers:

     Hindering Factors

    Student and/or teacher fixed mindset*

    Teacher content knowledge

    Math licensure

    Communication/language barrier



    • Low quality
    • Lacks rigor
    • Frequent changes
    • Lacks cultural responsiveness

    No K-12 math scope and sequence within schools, districts, and/or the city

    Metrics can be misleading

    • Emphasis on certain metrics (standardized tests or STAR)
    • Alignment between curricula and assessments
    • Data not triangulated

    Teacher evaluations

    Prior school experiences of students

    Student motivation

    Challenges at home

    Students living in poverty

    Reliance on computer instruction

    Prior school experiences of adults

    Lack of resources in the classroom

    • Technology
    • Materials

    Absence of early interventions

    “Tracking” students


    Items discussed by the group
    Items that were noted but not discussed
    * designates strong support around the factor

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