# Mathematical Disposition: More than an attitude (using guided math groups to foster the many aspects) Part 4

Much has been written about mathematical dispositions or ways of thinking and being NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 1989, 2000) and others (e.g., Maher, 2005; De Corte, Verschaffel, & Op’T Eynde, 2000: Polya, 1969). The research tells us that mathematical disposition is much more than an attitude. It is about ways of thinking, doing, being and seeing math. It includes confidence, flexibility, perseverance, interest, inventiveness, appreciation, reflection and monitoring (Merz, 2009).

Given that, how do you cultivate each one of these in your class?

- What do you do to
**boost students’ confidence**? Name 2 things. What could you do? Name 1 more. How might you do this in a guided math group? Since you only have a few students in a group, you can attend more individually to each one. One way to do this is to give problems that they can do. Success breeds success and confidence.

2. What do you do to help **foster flexibility**? This idea of thinking in many different ways? Do you engage in ongoing strategy talk? Do you have a culture of sharing in your class that goes beyond the answer but talks about how people got the answer or didn’t get it?

3. What do you do to **build perseverance**? How do you teach that? How do you do that? So that students’ perseverance levels increase over time?

4. What do you do to **spark interest**? How do you connect math to their lives? Where is the math in Pokeman or Dragonball Z?

5. What do you do to **encourage inventiveness**? Do we publicly celebrate inventive thinking? How do we get our students to think hard about the math their doing and take risks?

6. What do you do to **cultivate appreciation of math**? Do you make connections to real life situations that are important to them so students see that math really does matter?

7. How often do we get them to **reflect about the math** they are learning? Do we consistently use entrance and/or exit slips so they can think about their learning? Do we use individual pupil responses like thumbs up, thumbs down or sideways to check in with them? Do we use red, green, and yellow slips so they can give us immediate feedback about speeding up the lesson, slowing down the lesson or stopping to explain further? Do we ask them to do oral and or written reflections on their quizzes and tests and make plans to learn what they are still struggling with? You can do this in small guided math groups! This is an excellent space for these types of discussions.

8. How do we get student’s to **monitor their learning**? Do they have action plans that they reflect on? Who is responsible for knowing where they are? Just us? Think about how powerful it would be if they knew too! And if their parents knew, more than just a few times a year. The more people who know, the more likely the student is to get there! Think of the power of everybody being on board. What does a consistent inclusive monitoring system look like?

References:

Alice Merz

Journal of Educational Thought

Vol. 43, No. 1, 2009, 65-78.

This is information which can only improve mathematics instruction. I feel like I am taking a course when reading these posts. As a math coach, I am going to use these as articles as a springboard for ideas on how the teachers at my school can promote a postitive attitude about math. The middle school teachers are already having students monitor their own learning with goals and journals. One 4th grade teacher has started a weekly letter to parents about their learning for the week and parents should write back. This is so math-worthy and vital to good math teaching. Thank you!!

Lisa PietrosimoneOctober 19, 2010

Hi Lisa,

Thank you so much for your comments. I love the term mathworthy! Promoting the positive attitude is so key to math instruction.

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