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SD Department of Education December 2014  


Shawn DeWitt and Roxane Dyk discuss instructional coaching in math
Coaching aims to deepen students’ thinking about math

The South Dakota Department of Education is offering targeted professional development and instructional coaching in foundational math and reading skills for 21 districts this school year. This month, we are focusing on the math program. Math support is offered to teachers of grades 4-8.

Throughout the school year, instructional coaches provide teachers five days of PD in a group setting. Coaches then observe teachers in the classroom and work with them one-on-one to reinforce the PD. Coaches are learning specialists from ESAs. Several math coaches have extensive experience with the South Dakota Counts program. The instructional coaching program utilizes the book 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions by Margaret S. Smith and Mary Kay Stein.

Coaching consists of five components:

1. Designing math lessons in three “acts” (launch, explore, communicate) to develop a classroom with strong student discourse through the incorporation of the five practices defined by Smith and Stein:
   • Anticipating likely student responses to
     challenging mathematical tasks.
   • Monitoring students’ actual responses to the
     tasks (while students work on the tasks in
     pairs or small groups).
   • Selecting particular students to present their
     mathematical work during the whole-class
   • Sequencing the student responses that will
     be displayed in a specific order
   • Connecting different students’ responses
     and connecting the responses to key
     mathematical ideas.

2. Strengthening the use and type of deeper level questioning.

3. Implementing formative assessments.

4. Cultivating classroom culture and grouping students effectively.

5. Engaging students in productive struggle and rigorous tasks.

Coaches use the following components from the South Dakota Framework for Teaching to provide teachers feedback throughout the year:
   • Setting Instructional Outcomes (1c)
   • Establishing a Culture for Learning (2b)
   • Using Questioning and Discussion
     Techniques (3b)
   • Engaging Students in Learning (3c)

For those districts not involved in the instructional coaching program, educators can gain understanding of math concepts through the trainings offered on the PD Menu of Options. The menu options are Understanding Number Concepts & Cognitive Guided Instruction, Concepts of Rational Numbers: Fractions, Decimals, and Percents, and Proportional Reasoning.

At the beginning of the instructional coaching process this fall, coaches assisted teachers with data digs of assessment results. Coaches and teachers will perform two more data digs—one in the winter and one in the spring—to gauge student progress.

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