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Math Exchanges

  • Title:Math Exchanges: Guiding Young Mathematicians in Small-Group Meetings
  • Author:Kassia Omohundro Wedekind
  • Publication Date:September 2011
  • Grade Level:K-3
  • ISBN:9781571108265
  • Publisher:Stenhouse

Traditionally, small-group math instruction has been used as a format for reaching children who struggle to understand. Math coach Kassia Omohundro Wedekind uses small-group instruction as the centerpiece of her math workshop approach, engaging all students in rigorous "math exchanges." The key characteristics of these mathematical conversations are that they are: 1) short, focused sessions that bring all mathematical minds together, 2) responsive to the needs of the specific group of mathematicians, and 3) designed for meaningful, guided reflection.

As in reading and writing workshop, students in Kassia's math workshop are becoming self-directed and independent while participating in a classroom community of learners. Through the math exchanges, students focus on number sense and the big ideas of mathematics. Teachers guide the conversations with small groups of students, mediating talk and thinking as students share problem-solving strategies, discuss how math works, and move toward more effective and efficient approaches and greater mathematical understanding.

Although grounded in theory and research, Math Exchanges is written for practicing teachers and answers such questions as the following:

  • How can I use a math workshop approach and follow a certain textbook or set of standards?
  • How should I form small groups? and How often should I meet with small groups?
  • What should I focus on in small groups?
  • How can I tell if my groups are making progress?
  • What do small-group math exchanges look like, sound like, and feel like?
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Author Bio

Kassia Omohundro Wedekind is a math coach at Bailey's Elementary School for the Arts and Sciences right outside of Washington, DC. "I am someone who likes a lot of change in my teaching life," admits Kassia. The road to Bailey's took her to central Virginia, where she taught English for Migrant Education in migrant camps. "I learned a lot about teaching, immigration and migration issues, and apple and peach orchards," she says. Kassia then decided that she wanted to work with children, so she taught ESOL in a couple of different schools before teaching second and third grade at Bailey's. After several years at Bailey's as a classroom teacher she became a math coach and works mostly with teachers and students in kindergarten and second grade. Kassia says that she is a constant reader of professional development books. She joined a professional development group when she arrived at Bailey's and they would meet monthly to talk about their reading, math, and how they applied what they've read to their teaching. "Being in a group like this made me wonder, question, and revise my ideas on teaching math. Having professional development based on great reading and with thoughtful colleagues enriches my teaching life tremendously." Kassia received her bachelor's degree in Spanish and Latin American Studies from the University of Virginia. She believes in having both a full and happy work life and outside-of-work life. When she is not in the classroom she enjoys Saturday trips to the farmer's market with her husband, Aron, eating lots of sushi, taking summer trips to Cape Cod to see her dad, and going on trips with family and friends.

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