In her 2008 book, What's Math Got To Do With? Jo Boaler explains how "too many students in America hate math and for many it is a source of anxiety and fear" (p. 10). This sentiment is often true in other countries as well, where math is not a revered subject. Sometimes, even teachers find planning for and teaching a math lesson an arduous task. As a way to cultivate interest and passion for math learning, I have developed the math section into three aspects: (1) the math block, (2), the math foundation, and (3) the math lesson. These are the aspects that make a balanced math program. The math block includes all of the approaches I use to bring about math learning outside of the math lesson. The math foundation includes approaches around student centred learning and unit planning. These are essentially the "foundations" of math, supporting teachers' understanding of how to approach math learning and teaching, including how to teach various math content. Finally, the math lesson delves into all the components that go into planning daily lessons to ensure students understand the expectation(s)/objective(s). For beginning and new teachers, I recommend starting by just looking at the components that make up a math lesson. Think about the steps in the lesson and the flow from one section to the next, where a teacher introduces a concept and slowly releases the learning to the students, allowing them to build from the foundation. Once teachers develop basic lesson planning skills for math, consider ways in which teachers can check for understanding throughout the lesson. This supports the teacher with the flow of the lesson, thinking of ways to build up or breakdown material. After that, I suggest looking into the components of a math block, as an extension to the math lesson.
The math block includes all of the different ways math learning can occur throughout the day and week. In my approach to a balanced math block, this math learning comes from the following: activities and drills, the Daily 3 stations, number talks, running records, and a review. The combination of a few or all of these makes for the math block "formula," which truly increases interest and passion for math learning.
The unit assessment and unit planning sections are the best places to start, thinking about ways to breakdown the expectations/objectives across a few weeks. Furthermore, there is information around different teaching approaches to math like the concrete-pictorial-abstract (CPA) and Bar Model methods, which can be useful when planning for the entire unit. There is also a section that goes over examples of student-centred approaches to teaching math concepts, specifically using the Van de Walle approach and the flipped classroom approach.
The math block foundation comes from the math lesson itself with overall and specific expectations (or rather objectives) that are being taught and met. Most often, the lesson is based on a gradual release of responsibility, using the modelled, shared/guided, and independent instruction to teaching a lesson. It also includes the assessment, which teachers can use throughout the lesson to gage student learning and understanding. A math lesson also includes the consistent use of check for understandings, where teachers gage student understanding before, during, and after the lesson to gather information, namely around whether students have grasped the material or not. Check for understandings can also take place during the guided practice, which is an important space to develop mathematical learning.