This Ides of March morning I wished one of my high school classmates a “happy birthday” and as I was reading other posts on her Facebook page I realized she also just turned 65 since someone noted to her that this was a “big one.” My “big one” was on Groundhog Day and so I’ve had a some weeks to get used to being a senior citizen.

Punxsutawney Phil and Suzanne with their shadows!

Besides now having a special pass to use to pay only a dollar for my train commute into Philly, I’ve found myself having more than my normal amount of reflective thoughts. Recently I was thinking about my own Action Research with my students in ’99-’00. I was part of a Math Forum grant project and I was using the ESCOT Problems of the Week (warning: there’s a lot of link rot within that group of pages but there are also still some interesting ideas/resources) and I was interested in comparing my students’ standardized test scores from the previous year to their scores from the end of that school year. I remember when I looked up all of their scores from the previous year in anticipation of comparing them later, I noted both their literacy scores and their math scores. And, so, when I had the ’99-’00 scores for comparison I looked at both areas. The math scores were fine but it was the literacy score increases that were dramatic!

There were too many variables in play to only give credit to the problem-solving efforts I was focused on with these students. I was teamed with an excellent language arts teacher (Rick Hartwell) and, perhaps, their gains in literacy could be attributed to his effort … but … I think it was also because he and I used similar strategies and our combined efforts had a great effect.

When Annie introduced this slide into her Sense Making workshop and also used it in a Keynote she and Max delivered (and I know she’s used it in other talks recently, too) it just brought everything into focus!

While Rick was encouraging Strong Readers, I was encouraging Strong Mathematicians and the combination worked to the advantage of our students!