S'More From The AP

Week Ending February 12, 2016

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone! By Ms. Fuller

Growing up, math was never my favorite subject. I never understood why I needed to know how to compute sin, cos, or tan into my calculator, or why I needed to use 3 full sheets of paper to solve one problem. So yes, I have had a chip on my shoulder when it comes to math. When I began teaching, to my surprise, math was my favorite to teach. I enjoyed seeing the light bulbs go off and seeing the many different ways the students solved the same problems.

This year I ran into a math wall. My current students are hard workers and enjoy math, but they were bored. I would go home at night and think, “I taught the lesson with energy, they worked with partners, and everyone turned in great work… why do they moan when math begins?” I signed up for math workshops and talked with my team about how they taught math, and I seemed to be doing what they were doing. I needed help!

After meeting with Kelly and Traci, observing fellow teachers during their math times, and meeting with Alex Kixmiller and Lindsey Ferguson I realized my kids were BORED! There was no engagement. I did the same thing everyday. Most of you know that I am very structured and do not do well with change, so keeping everything the same everyday was okay with me. But education is not about the teacher; it’s about the students. So, I CHANGED! (Shocking, I know! Ha!) Below are a few things I did to make my classroom more engaging!

  • 1. Invite Alex or Lindsey to come do a lesson. The students loved seeing someone new in the room and really enjoyed learning from a different teacher.

  • 2. Incorporate Daily Intentional Problem Solving into your lessons. There are PLENTY of already made questions per grade level in Eduphoria. I would be more than happy to show you where to get these. The kids LOVE them!

  • 3. Always have math manipulatives available for all lessons. Even if you know there is no way they can use, they will find a way!

  • 4. Allow some freedom… “You can work in small group with me, work with a partner, or work alone”. I even let them pick their partners sometimes… WOW!

  • 5. Have math games ready for them to play when finished with their work instead of having them read or finish other work. This allows them to continue learning and applying the math you just taught. I have attached some games that Alex Kixmiller gave me, and I even added some of my own.

  • 6. Use the Math Process Skills to drive your questioning. Instead of asking “what is the next step” or “what is the answer”, ask “is your answer reasonable AND HOW DO YOU KNOW” or “how can you solve this problem in a different way” or “using our academic vocabulary, explain how you got your answer”.

  • 7. And finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It doesn’t mean you are weak or don’t know how to do your job. We tell the students all the time that they should not be embarrassed to ask us questions, so why are we so afraid to ask questions or seek help ourselves?

Its been a few months since I started engaging my students more in math, and I can see a difference in their attitudes. Everyday is something different, but we are still learning math. Break out of your shells. You will be surprised with what you are capable of doing!

If you have ideas for me, send them my way! I would love to incorporate more engaging math lessons!

Worth Reading

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