Explicitly Taught Learning Behaviors - The Teacher Studio: Learning, Thinking, Creating

Explicitly Taught Learning Behaviors

I know I have written about quite a range of topics since the beginning of this little blog, but recently I have seen a number of blog posts (here included!) about goals/resolutions for the new year.  Returning to school in January can be a great time for goal setting--and a great time to revisit some of those "back to school" things we do automatically in the fall.

I have been doing this teaching thing for 20 years now, and one thing I know to be true is that there are just some things that some students don't do naturally.  You would think they could walk in a line...read a book without getting distracted...know to not peel off the nametags on their desks.  But they don't--at least some of them don't.  We need to explicitly teach them what we expect!

The push for better reading behaviors has dramatically changed reading performance (and enjoyment!) in my class.  For the last 5 years or so I have explicitly taught my readers what effective readers do...and it makes a difference.  If this is new to you, let me know--I could blog about it later.  It is a big deal--a REALLY big deal!

But today I want to talk about how I am going to go back and revisit MATH behaviors when we return to class next week.  The Common Core has thankfully included a set of 8 mathematical practice standards geared toward raising the level of rigor in the classroom--and require us to explicitly teach students how to be mathematicians.  The image above is an anchor chart I have hanging in my room.  We are going to work ourselves back through the list with a series of activities in January.  I am not so naive as to think that my initial instruction on this 4 months ago was enough for all my students.  We continue to talk about them throughout our lessons, but it's time to tighten the focus again.

So...if the idea of "Math Behaviors" is new to you, I encourage you to spend some time snooping around the Common Core.  The math practice standards are explained in somewhat technical language.  I have made this "math behaviors" anchor chart to be a little more student-friendly, and I have also posted mini-posters that state all 8 practice standards in kid-friendly language.  I have a few versions in my TpT store if you think they would help you.  So--another challenge for all of you...how much "explicit instruction" have you given your students on what you expect from them in math class?  It's time for me to dig back in--would love to hear any ideas you all have for teaching math behaviors over the next weeks. 


  1. Meg, I am very excited to have found another 4th grade teacher/blogger to follow! Your posts are amazing and I have spent most of my morning reading through them. When school starts back up in a few days I will be reteaching many of our classroom rules and procedures again. We will also be focusing on math behaviors and the common core. I look forward to reading more of your posts in the future!

    Elementary School Garden

    1. Thanks for coming by, Jennifer! I am heading over to your blog to check it out--but I'm pretty sure I've been there before! I'm glad my post made you think, and I look forward to having you come back often!

  2. Hey :) I am your newest follower.. and also a fellow fourth grade teacher!! I love your math poster and it is always important to reinforce responsibilities and behaviors.. I may look into doing just that. Thanks! :)


    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! I hope you come back to visit often!

  3. Meg,I'd love for a more in-depth post on how you initially taught and then revisited the mathematical practices/behaviors. Even though I teach a group of really smart kids, I often see that they try and then give up and wait for the answer. Neatness and clarity (precision) also leaves room for improvement. Any specific strategies you could share? I'd love to work on this for the rest of the year and definitely hit the ground running with these practices next year. Thanks, love your blog!


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