Full article: imagining possibilities: innovating mathematics (teacher) education for sustainable futures

October 11, 2017November 30, 2018Katy Farber 2 CommentsEdmunds Middle School, math, Williston Central School
Banish the stigma: you are not bad at math. Math is bad at you.

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Let’s tie math khổng lồ the real world: real problems for students lớn solve, what’s going on around them, & how students learn. If you’re trying to save the world, you’re not gonna let a little math get in the way, are you?

Here’s 4 ways khổng lồ make math more relevant for students and for teachers.

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If you think about it, math is a foreign language for everyone the world over. No matter what language or which alphabet you use khổng lồ communicate, you have khổng lồ switch over khổng lồ a different mix of symbols when it’s math time. Combine that with musty textbooks, incomprehensible graphs và basically any classroom from 1956-1998 inclusive and many people either struggle with math or are averse khổng lồ it.

So how vày you encourage a math-happy mindset?

Jo Boaler & her students at Stanford University have created have created a không tính phí online course for students aimed at creating a positive math mindset. YouCubed combines videos, quizzes và lessons all aimed at making math feel friendlier.

Youcubed is a great place to lớn start shifting your math instruction and plans. Dip a toe in: do a week of Inspirational Math with your students.  The problems are accessible, but also allow room for deep exploration and challenge. This is a resource that can be used all year long.

Right! Now that we’re all in a good place with this math business, let’s look at four ways we can stay there.

1. We’re all in this together: collaborative math ftw

Students learn a great khuyễn mãi giảm giá through collaborative discussions about math concepts. Talking through a math problem with a partner gives students a chance lớn express concepts in a small group format. They can try new things and learn form each other, và we know that this is one of the best ways for middle grades students to lớn learn. At Williston Central School, in Williston VT, students in sixth grade math educator Jared Bailey’s class captured the discussion that ensued as they grappled with division as a group.

The discussion started with a lot of confusion (and some consternation), so the students quickly developed a norm for their conversation: if you have the pencil, you vì the talking. Woot! Let’s hear it for the Speaking Pencil! Next, the students shared a couple different theories about how division works. Then Bailey brought some structure lớn the conversation with a dollars and cents example. And at that point, students broke into smaller conversations to work on the new example, while still respecting the Speaking Pencil.

For people (especially adults) for whom the phrase “grappled with division” brings on hives, the idea that you can talk about what’s confusing you, that you can even express that confusion in a supportive peer group feels like a barrel of Benadryl, baby.

2. Hands-on math: the project-based learning approach

When students vày hands-on projects in math, they create a mental scaffold of concepts. And they may not even know they’re doing it, what with being so caught up in saving salamanders, measuring contamination in a nearby water source or determining how much food is needed khổng lồ address a shortfall in their community.

It’s all math, but it’s cleverly disguised as Getting Things Done. And even if students still aren’t entirely sold on math (keep pushing the YouCubed), I bet they really lượt thích Getting Things Done.

The federal SLOPE (STEM Learning Opportunities Provide Equity) program aims to lớn tie increased proficiency in 8th grade algebra to improved academic outcomes. We’re all on board with that, right? But algebra activities here include code-cracking, basic programming projects, making model wind turbines và designing mobility-access ramps for school buildings. The teacher in the above đoạn clip found increased student achievement of conceptual knowledge in the students who participated in a PBL approach. Students reported more engagement, more fun, and more excitement about math through this approach.

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3. Use current events data, maps, charts và tables lớn explore issues

As a response lớn the violence in Charlottesville, many teachers were sharing resources for teaching about issues of history, race, identity and community. Many were interested helping students challenge their thinking và deepen their understanding about issues of power, privilege & oppression.

Sara Van Der Werf answered the call— with math.

She found several maps of America, và asked direct, simple questions:

What vì you notice?And what bởi vì you wonder?What else?

She included maps of confederate monuments, census data about where in the country has the highest rate of African Americas, and where the hate groups in this country are located. Analysis of these maps can lead khổng lồ powerful learning. Learning about geography. Learning about how to lớn read graphs và maps. And, learning to lớn see connections between data points lớn discover a larger theme. These are skills our students need, và an understanding our society needs, too.

4. Get students up and moving, ideally collaboratively working on a vertical surface

There is a movement in math. Toward active, engaged bodies. From the straight forward but oh so helpful stand & talk (thanks again, Sara Van Der Werf), where instead of turning và talking, student have to stand, walk khổng lồ find a partner, & do a quick collaborative task. Engaging, social, & movement all in one small tweak. The incomparable Laura Botte teaches math at Edmunds Middle School, in Burlington VT, and her students are always in motion. They calculate pi by doing yoga, they race scooters through the hallway just like Isaac Newton did, and they bởi hopscotch calculations. Furniture is irrelevant; dance breaks are the norm.

Ready lớn go bigger? Try 360 math.

The exchange: greeting and welcoming studentsRewind: kids experience success with a quick problem at their levelMicro-lecture: 10 minutes of direct instructionPractice: students work on low floor, high ceiling problems on white board or chart paper around the room, allowing for movement, collaboration, and exploration of concepts. (There is research to tư vấn embedding movement into math, and kids that work on a vertical plane retain more! (find và link).Proof: an exit ticket or other kiểm tra in about the skill, done independently. (I would like to địa chỉ students could work in collaborative groups on some problems, và then present the proof lớn the whole class và reflect).Progress bar: students mark their progress so they can see the growth in their efforts. Brain research supports this kind of monitoring and self assessment.

The teacher stands at the center of the room, taking in who needs help, support, more challenge, or direction. The teacher is active, gathering formative assessment, và supporting students. Read what one teacher has to lớn say about using this approach. 

What do students think? See what this class has lớn say (and when have you seen this much laughter và excitement about math?).

Lastly, three quick tips from a recent Edutopia article on student-centered math class:

“Start with good problemsuse visibly random groupsand work regularly on vertical nonpermanent surfaces.”

These approaches can be put into practice in most math classes with little new gear (chart paper, maybe!) và resources.

One simple way I had students move during math was at the over of class. Students were asked lớn proclaim something– something they learned, re-learned, enjoyed, or experienced. They were able to lớn stand on chairs (ala Good Will Hunting) for these proclamations. Every day, we ended class with these reflections, and if I forgot, students asked for it, because they loved ending class this way. And yes, the world does indeed look different from up there.

tldr; how to lớn engage students in math?

Turn around anti-math attitudesUse some project-based approaches with hands-on mathUse current events data, maps, charts và tables to lớn explore issuesGet students up và moving, ideally collaboratively working on vertical surfaces.

What vì you bởi vì to make math real và relevant for students?