Math Norms – Why have them?


What are math norms?
Math norms are a set of expectations established to increase active participation of all students and teachers. They are set in a positive tone and applied to all situations all the time. Math norms should be a small list posted in kid friendly terms and reinforced daily. They may include: procedures for using manipulatives/tools, expectations for discussion, or what needs to be included in their math work.

Why are math norms important?
They will maximize student learning and promote a positive math environment. Gives clear, positive, achievable expectations for how students and teachers will behave in the math classroom. Math norms increase student engagement and participation, which will create a positive math climate.

How do I establish math norms?
Math norms should be created with students for buy-in. As a teacher, you will want to brainstorm what you forsee as essential math norms for your classroom ahead of time to guide and question students. Hold a discussion with students of what they want their math class to look and feel like. From there, brainstorm and create a list together. Have students generate examples and visuals of what the norms look and sound like.

When do I focus on math norms?
After the norms are identified and posted on an anchor chart, model and practice the use of them with pre-requisite skills from the previous grade level math content during the first 9 days or Building Math Community unit. Then continue to reinforce the math norms established throughout the school year.

What are some examples of possible math norms?
1. Explain your thinking
2. Ask questions
3. Challenge ideas, not classmates (peers)
4. Say when I don’t understand or agree
5. Actively participate in all learning tasks
6. Choose and use math tools appropriately
7. Show your work in more than one way
8. When a classmate is sharing, be prepared to respond with how you agree,
disagree or ask a question (Actively Listen)
9. Be Respectful when you agree/disagree with someone

Here is an example of a student following the math norms established for their use of manipulatives. Pictures like this one could be included on an anchor chart with the norms listed, to help students understand the expectations.

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