Making Mathematics Meaningful at NYA

Brian kissmanOver the past two decades, the profession of education has become much more research-based and data driven. That’s good news. The challenge is that change within any system or institution comes slowly.

At New York Academy we embrace change. We honor research-based evidence and data to drive our methods of instruction and learning.

In 2014, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics published a list of research-based principles and enduring understandings to guide the effective instruction and learning of mathematics:


1. Establish mathematics goals to focus learning. Effective teaching of mathematics establishes clear goals for the mathematics that students are learning, situates goals within learning progressions, and uses the goals to guide instructional decisions.

At New York Academy, we begin every lesson with a presentation of the ‘Learning Point’ (LP). We make explicit to students what they are to know, understand, and be able to do as a result of the lesson.


2. Implement tasks that promote reasoning and problem solving. Effective teaching of mathematics engages students in solving and discussing tasks that promote mathematical reasoning and problem solving and allow multiple entry points and varied solution strategies.

Lessons at New York Academy aim to engage students in learning. It is not enough to just learn a math fact or apply a skill. Our students are guided to understand the underlying concepts and apply their understandings and skills to solve real world problems.


3. Use and connect mathematical representations. Effective teaching of mathematics engages students in making connections among mathematical representations to deepen understanding of mathematics concepts and procedures and as tools for problem solving.

New York Academy students are guided to synthesize and connect different math concepts and skills to solve complex problems.


4. Facilitate meaningful mathematical discourse. Effective teaching of mathematics facilitates discourse among students to build shared understanding of mathematical ideas by analyzing and comparing student approaches and arguments.

Cooperative learning and teamwork are primary learning experiences at New York Academy. Students are guided to develop the Eight Traits of Conversation to strengthen their abilities as lifelong learners. When students engage in learning discussions they are able to build and shape understandings by learning from one another.


5. Pose purposeful questions. Effective teaching of mathematics uses purposeful questions to assess and advance students’ reasoning and sense making about important mathematical ideas and relationships.

One of the key critical thinking skills taught across all subjects at all grade levels at New York Academy is the ability to generate questions that are open-ended. Such questions promote inquiry and arguments, which challenge students to think.


6. Build procedural fluency from conceptual understanding. Effective teaching of mathematics builds fluency with procedures on a foundation of conceptual understanding so that students, over time, become skillful in using procedures flexibly as they solve contextual and mathematical problems.

New York Academy understands that this is where effective traditional approaches to education work. For example, it is very important that all students know and have memorized their multiplication facts by the end of 3rd or 4th grade. Without having ‘automaticity’ of facts and skills, students are slow to solve contextual and mathematical problems.


7. Support productive struggle in learning mathematics. Effective teaching of mathematics consistently provides students, individually and collectively, with opportunities and supports to engage in productive struggle as they grapple with mathematical ideas and relationships.

New York Academy challenges students beyond their comfort zone. We understand that lifelong learners grow by taking risks, making mistakes, and pushing themselves.


8. Elicit and use evidence of student thinking. Effective teaching of mathematics uses evidence of student thinking to assess progress toward mathematical understanding and to adjust instruction continually in ways that support and extend learning.

New York Academy is intentional employing a wide range of formative assessments to differentiate learning; we are committed to meeting the individual and personal needs of each student at their just right level of learning – not too hard, not easy, but challenging.


At New York Academy, we are committed to guiding our students to learn to learn.

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