Make Mathematical Thinking Visible – 10 Featured Teachers?

I have been working in at the Josiah Quincy Upper School (in Boston Public Schools) since 2008. Ten years of teaching comprises most of my adult working life, but it’s barely a blip in the 107 year history of our school building.

JQUS when it was the Abraham Lincoln School (source: City of Boston Archives)

Over the years, I’ve made some changes to my classroom (which still has many original fixtures).


Math in 2018 is no longer just about solving problems on individual worksheets. Students in my classroom are working to build their teamwork and communication skills as they work to solve open-ended problems like building Barbie ziplines, designing gingerbread houses, interviewing teachers to design systems of equations that model their coffee consumption, and estimating the heights of statues using trigonometry.

In 2017, we made a DonorsChoose project to get trapezoid-shaped markerboard activity tables. Arranging pairs of tables into hexagon shapes allows them to easily draft and revise their work in flexible groups. The shape of the table allows for different group sizes, and the markerboards are much better for collaboration than poster paper or notebooks. Students enjoyed building the tables when we received them. Our group work and problem-solving has already improved by leaps and bounds from when we had to use long rectangular tables.

Now the students can easily talk, share work, and draft ideas. They are also excited to be “green” and “kill less trees” with their classwork. During group work, they use the tables for activities such as using Desmos on Chromebooks, making calculations or investigating patterns during a function transformation exploration. We can easily rearrange the tables for tests as well. The math team has also used them for department meetings and co-planning.

To keep this visible thinking work going and make our classroom a great place to learn, we need supplies like whiteboard markers, erasers, cleaner, or short-throw projector. Our class Amazon wishlist is here!

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