I have really jumped on the Notice and Wonder train. This has really put the thinking and connecting in the hands of the students. It is a simple but ingenious strategy where students look at what they notice about a particular problem and then wonder by asking mathematical questions about the problem. This opens up the problem for students to start talking and and discussion their ideas.
With the Notice and Wonder, I like to pair this with Dan Meyer's "You can always add. You can't subtract" philosophy. Deleting as much as I can from a problem helps start that conversation about what we notice and wonder about a particular problem. Giving students small bits at a time builds that curiosity and buy-in for what we are going to tackle in class for the day. Students also like to predict what is coming next when problems are presented in this way. It can usually make for a loud and talkative classroom!
Another idea that has also transformed my classroom this year is Contemplate then Calculate. Bringing in this last strategy has been the perfect way to move into solving the problem. Many times I would rush into the solving part without having students take a moment to figure out what they already know. I like this strategy also because students then have a framework to share their thinking that has been helpful in getting kids to think about their thinking.
These three ideas have positively affected my classroom for this first half of the year. It has forced me to put the cognitive load on the students. Providing a classroom experience where students are challenged starts with the planning. Planning with these strategies has helped me take the call to action from Graham Fletcher's Becoming a Better Storyteller seriously and purposefully. These three ideas have really reignited my passion for teaching and helping students become the best possible mathematician they can be!