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Learning at home is important, but teachers can’t do it alone. We need to ensure that the students are motivated to be active participants in their own learning and that parents and caregivers are empowered to support their children in their learning. You can do this by supporting student ownership at home when you understand the importance of student ownership in mathematics, your role in developing it, and how to empower your students and families to own it.

Student Ownership in MATHEMATICS Is Key

As teachers, we know that mathematics is much more than just solving the problems and checking to see if the answer is correct. It also involves each student’s understanding of what they are learning, how they can learn it, and what they have learned about their mathematical thinking along the way.

“One hallmark of mathematical understanding is the ability to justify, in a way appropriate to the student’s mathematical maturity, why a particular mathematical statement is true or where a mathematical rule comes from. There is a world of difference between a student who can summon a mnemonic device to expand a product such as (a + b)(x + y) and a student who can explain where the mnemonic comes from. The student who can explain the rule understands the mathematics, and may have a better chance to succeed at a less familiar task such as (a + b + c)(x +y).” (National Governors Association, 2013)

In other words, the more students are able to comprehend their own learning process and articulate it, the easier it will be for them to improve their conceptual understanding, procedural skill and fluency, and applications. This is mathematical metacognition—thinking about mathematical learning. When students practice intentionally thinking like a mathematician and reflecting on their learning, they are owning their own mathematics.

Metacognitive Routines That Develop Ownership

To support your students to own their mathematics when they are at home, there are several things you, as the teacher, need to do.

  • It is imperative for you to let students know, so that they are able to articulate, how they will determine what a math problem is asking them to do, how they will solve it, and the tools they will need.
  • It is imperative for you to let students know, so that they are able to articulate, how they know they solved the problem and the mathematical evidence that proves this.
  • It is imperative for you to let students know, so that they are able to articulate, how thinking and speaking like a mathematician will help them.

Work with your students to build a metacognitive routine. For each and every assignment, have them reflect on their learning with the following questions before they begin working and to reflect on their learning after they have completed their work.

Questions like these help students expand their thinking, develop metacognitive skills, and become more aware of their own strengths and weaknesses. You will help them think and speak like a mathematician by having them routinely answer these questions as they work.

Before working: Read the problem out loud. Then answer these questions.

    • What is the problem asking me to do?
    • How could I go about solving the problem?
    • What tools do I need to solve the problem?
    • How will I know I have solved it correctly?

After working: Share your solution. Then answer these questions.

    • What mathematical evidence supports my solution?
    • What was the problem asking me to do?
    • What did I do to solve the problem? Why did I select that strategy?

Student Ownership at Home

How do you quickly and easily build this routine when students are at home? Delegate responsibility to students and their parents and caregivers. Here’s how…

For your students…Include with each and every assignment or group of assignments this “Own It!” guide as a part of the directions you send home to your students.

As your students work, encourage them to…

    • Share their thinking with their classmates, parents, or caregivers and discuss what they are thinking about mathematics.
    • Share their thinking with you and provide your feedback.
    • Keep reflecting. Thinking and speaking like a mathematician takes practice. Don’t let them give up.

For your parents and caregivers…Communicate how vital their role is in supporting student ownership. Share this “Own It” guide as a part of the support they can provide to their child.

Continue Supporting Student Ownership at Home

Whether it’s mathematics or reading or another content-area, we know that learning, and the skills of learning, transcend beyond the classroom walls. In today’s environment, this has become especially clear as instructional delivery has shifted from the classroom to the home and to a hybrid of both. But, no matter what subject or delivery mode, it is that the students themselves who are the most effective advocates for their learning when they have the skills to own it.

That’s why we have developed a series of resources to support teachers, students, and families in ensuring that learning continues, anytime, anyplace, and in any format, thereby fostering student ownership. Here’s where to find more support for student ownership at home…

The Learning Brief

In this article you learned…
  • Mathematical thinking (metacognition) is crucial for mathematical success.
  • Teachers can support students to be mathematical thinkers, even when they are at home.
  • How to use a series of questions and sentence frames that push mathematical thinking and speaking skills.
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Can you imagine building an environment full of motivated, engaged, and eager students who own their learning?
We can.

Let us show you how

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