Best Practices

  • Winnetka District 36 has been recognized as a leader in mathematics instruction by experts in the field of math education.

    • Professors from local universities, including Northwestern University, have brought their students to observe math instruction in our classrooms as teachers demonstrated effective instructional practices. Neighboring school districts have sent their teachers to observe as well.
    • Illustrative Mathematics, a website that provides expert guidance to math educators, sought out our Grade 6 teachers to develop a Ratios and Proportional Reasoning Module. The module is now available for public use on the SmarterBalanced.org site.
    • Several teachers have written articles for leading mathematics educational journals, such as Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School.

    Our staff is continually seeking out professional development opportunities in order to stay informed of current educational research.

    • Our teachers have engaged in hundreds of hours of professional development focused on best practices in mathematics instruction.
    • Over 40 members of our staff have attended national math leadership conferences (NCSM or NCTM).

    Most importantly, our teachers work collaboratively and are constantly teaching and learning from each other.

    Principles to Action: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All is a book written by a task force of national math education leaders working through the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. In this text, the authors define the principles and actions that are essential to strengthen mathematics teaching and learning for all students. The following is a research-informed framework of teaching and learning that is presented in Principles to Action. These reflect the instructional practices in District 36 mathematics classrooms.

    Mathematics Teaching Practices

    • Establish mathematics goals to focus learning. Effective teaching of mathematics establishes clear goals for the mathematics that students are learning, situates goals within learning progressions, and uses the goals to guide instructional decisions.
    • Implement tasks that promote reasoning and problem solving. Effective teaching of mathematics engages students in solving and discussing tasks that promote mathematical reasoning and problem solving and allow multiple entry points and varied solution strategies.
    • Use and connect mathematical representations. Effective teaching of mathematics engages students in making connections among mathematical representations to deepen understanding of mathematics concepts and procedures and as tools for problem solving.
    • Facilitate meaningful mathematical discourse. Effective teaching of mathematics facilitates discourse among students to build shared understanding of mathematical ideas by analyzing and comparing student approaches and arguments.
    • Pose purposeful questions. Effective teaching of mathematics uses purposeful questions to assess and advance students’ reasoning and sense making about important mathematical ideas and relationships.
    • Build procedural fluency from conceptual understanding. Effective teaching of mathematics builds fluency with procedures on a foundation of conceptual understanding so that students, over time, become skillful in using procedures flexibly as they solve contextual and mathematical problems.
    • Support productive struggle in learning mathematics. Effective teaching of mathematics consistently provides students, individually and collectively, with opportunities and supports to engage in productive struggle as they grapple with mathematical ideas and relationships.
    • Elicit and use evidence of student thinking. Effective teaching of mathematics uses evidence of student thinking to assess progress toward mathematical understanding and to adjust instruction continually in ways that support and extend learning.