“When kids are engaged and participating, the probability of them learning is extraordinarily high,” emphasized Steve Leinwand, Math Education Consultant in-residence at ASH. Leinwand returned to campus last week to continue his work with the ASH community and further support the mathematical learning of our students in an engaging way through rich and interesting tasks and inquiry that sparks discourse. “The challenge we face is helping kids to make sense of this world where there are multiple approaches and ways of seeing things. And my job is to bring life to this. There is never one right way to get to one right answer. We can make math commonplace and move beyond this one answer,” he offered.
During a Math workshop for parents, Mr. Leinwand noted that, “My life has been reduced to sprinkling empowerment dust all around the world, mainly to help adults help their kids do a better job at understanding Math better. Help me make Math commonplace by stretching our students’ minds and supporting their mathematical development.” “We have to create conditions where our kids are happy and engage in resolving problems,” Leinwand continued. “We know that learning occurs through inquiry far better than anything else.” Leinwand went on to highlight that mistakes grow our brain and that “we learn more from our mistakes than we do from simply going through life and doing things right. Having kids understand the benefit of making mistakes and researching how to debug them - struggle - builds neural connections,” he added. “We love mistakes because we learn from them and we accept that it is not always supposed to be easy. Kids learn best when there is some struggle.”
During his visit to a Kindergarten class, Leinwand inquired about the number of adults and children in the classroom. This task sparked debate and led to students brainstorming strategies in search of the answer. They ended up lining up along the adults and holding their hands, concluding there was an equal amount of adults and students. When Mr. Leinwand announced he’d briefly leave the room and asked “how many adults will be in the classroom when I leave?”, many students raised their hand and they said “twelve!”. It turned out to be the right answer, but how did they figure it out? “Easy”, they responded, “we were thirteen students but now Anabelle doesn’t have a “holding hands partner”, so we're now twelve teachers and thirteen students.
Steve Leinwand is a Principal Research Analyst and has over 35 years of leadership positions in mathematics education. He currently serves as mathematics expert on a wide range of projects that turn around schools, improve adult education, evaluate programs, develop assessments and provide technical assistance. Mr. Leinwand also spent 22 years as Mathematics Consultant with the Connecticut Department of Education where he was responsible for the development and oversight of a broad statewide program of activities in K-12 mathematics education. In April of 2015, he received the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics Ross Taylor/Glenn Gilbert National Mathematics Education Leadership Award.