DoKs in Math Classrooms

Robert Kaplinsky, an education consultant, wrote a piece about integrating depth of knowledge questions into mathematics. It’s a very honest piece that reflects on the problems teachers run into when trying to implement higher level depth of knowledge questions. He comments on an all-too-familiar problem: students get stuck and give up rather than embracing their mistakes and trying again. The Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice emphasize the ability to “make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.” A goal that can seem easier said than done at times. Robert Kaplinsky has a creative solution that I like for encouraging students to embrace their mistakes and take them into account when attempting a problem again. He mocked up a worksheet that rewards students for their mistakes and reflections on them. He doesn’t say to a student, “No, that’s wrong.” A trap we all too easily fall into in math classrooms and discourages students. Instead, the worksheet allows for six attempts, allocates points for each attempt and asks students: “What did you learn from this attempt? How will your strategy change on your next attempt?” It’s worth a quick read if nothing else.

More Resources

The Kentucky Department of Education published a very useful Webb’s Depth of Knowledge framework and resource for math teachers. It’s a must-read for anyone interested in mathematics education and developing content mastery. It includes question stems, example questions and problems for many grade levels.

The Arizona Department of Education also published a useful piece. Like Kentucky, Arizona’s document has question stems for levels one through four.

As always, Edutopia delivers. Gerald Aungst’s post: “Using Webb’s Depth of Knowledge to Increase Rigor.” Aungst summarizes Joanne Yatvin’s views before digging in and providing loads of resources. For more content by Aungst, visit his site.

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