Monday, September 22, 2014

Make Math Models Meaningful

Today's tech tools makes it so easy to make math models meaningful.

For example, as students learn about coordinate grids, we'll take a look at the school map, and I'll ask, "What do you notice? and Do you have any questions about this aerial view map?"

A school map is easily accessed via Google Maps.

After that we'll talk about the way a coordinate grid can help us to specifically identify places on a map or other graph.  Then I'll show them the school map with a grid layered on top. We'll then identify the ordered pairs for known school locations

Google draw makes it easy to overlay a grid (table) on a map or picture, then publish for student use. I can see a bit of room for revision in order to make it more precise, but I can use this to ask students, "How could I have done a better job with my grid overlay?" I'm sure they'll notice that some of the labeling is a bit off, and that I forgot to label the y axis.

Making math models that are meaningful and relevant to students fosters investment and interest, and that builds engagement and availability for learning. Further, this exemplifies our ability today to personalize and choreograph our teaching/learning programs to the students in front of us and the context in which we work. It's no longer a "one size fits all" world of learning. Instead it's a world of learning where we can choose from multiple tools and venues to best fit learning to the students we teach.

Finally, in the end, it's best if students replicate our models, then make their own using the tools we know and introduce as well as the tools they understand and enjoy using.