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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Teaching Math: A Modern Approach

If I was free to employ a modern approach in math, this is what it would look like.

First, I'd use considerable time upfront to create team with lots of wonderful hand-on math/science activities.

We'd spend time at the start of the year reviewing new cognitive research that supports optimal learning dispositions, growth mindset, and the fact that everyone is capable of learning.

I'd start each unit with the big idea. We'd discus the big idea, relate it to the real world, and think about how we will learn the skill and knowledge related to that big idea.

I would introduce a large array of learning paths and direct students down those pathways with choice and voice. The pathways would include paper/pencil tasks, regular assessments, tech integration, games, projects, and teamwork. I would sensitively coach individuals and small groups as they work to master the many standards embedded into the curriculum. I would work so that every child was working on the next goal--no student, no matter where they fell on the learning continuum, would be without a learning challenge and positive productive struggle.

As individuals, small groups, and class, projects and problems would be shared with each other. Students would learn to support their math ideas and work with words and presentations.

I would foster a vibrant community of learners where everyone including teachers see themselves as both learners and teachers.

I would be inspired to continue to develop my knowledge base related to this modern math approach with the following activities:
  • Using YouCubed as a regular resource
  • Attending and presenting at math conferences
  • Becoming more proficient at coding and employing coding as one way to teach/learn math
  • Becoming more proficient with computational thinking by compling Google's online course
  • Learning and utilizing Minecraft in the classroom
  • Learning about and employing more hands-on, real-world,meaningful math projects/problems
  • Attending a Jo Boaler workshop online or in real time
The ability to grow as a learner and be creative as an educator is inspiring. That's what makes us love learning and teaching, and that's what helps us translate that love of the work we do to teaching well.

When educators are restricted to bland and outdated teaching efforts, the inspiration wanes and the results diminish. Teachers need autonomy, mastery, and purpose to succeed. Teachers should not be managed, but instead, inspired.

I will do as I am told, but I will continue to advocate for what I know to be true and good with regard to teaching well. Onward.