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Friday, July 27, 2018

How will you improve your math teaching and learning in 2018-2019?

As I reviewed the math articles I've collected on my 2018 reading list, I found a number of good ideas that I will utilize to improve math teaching in the year ahead. The more we learn about how the brain works, the better we will be able to teach math. This terrific MindShift article shows us that  learning math is a sophisticated process that utilizes multiple parts of the brain at once.

So as we consider this continually shifting stage of math learning and teaching, we have to be open to continually updating, revising, and refining our math teaching and learning.

With next year in mind, I'll do the following. First, I'll improve my topic introductions. In years past I've successfully made the introductions sticky by connecting the topic with a meaningful, real-world rationale via questions, story, context, and imagery. I've tried, as experts encourage, to also create conflict, contradiction, and surprise to wake-up my learners to the topic and, in a sense, excite their brains. Now, thanks to an article by Michael Giardi, I will likely begin with a good hook that prioritizes visual imagery like the one below. This will foster an "inquiry before instruction" start to learning new concepts, and will invite students' interest and involvement while also giving me time to assess and understand the knowledge, skill, and concept students are bringing to the learning.

Next, I'll encourage students to be more metacognitive as they learn math. I'll tell them that to use metacognitive strategies will improve their math learning and retention. I'll define metacognitive strategies with this definition:

And, as students solve problems I'll have them use the questions below to guide their work:

Further, I will revisit the learning paths for each concept to make sure that those paths include lots of visual models, a diversity of activities, student creativity, and plenty of practice in order to make the learning brain-friendly as suggested in the quotes below:

In addition while I have always taken a computational approach to teaching using Fortran's if than or else programming logic to plan and execute lessons, I want to further my use of both coding and computational thinking as I teach both science and math. This definition of computational thinking will help me. I also want to commit to a weekly routine of building my ability to code and embed coding and computational thinking into the math and science curriculum.

As always, I want to bring family members on board to successfully support their young math students. While encouraging family members to speak highly of math, I also want them to know that there is much they can do outside of school to promote mathematical thinking, reasoning, and skill as noted in this quote:

I am also working to deepen students' assignments and my response to those assignments utilizing a weekly reflection journal. I will think carefully about research recently done related to assignments, especially the research that directs me to deepen the kinds of mathematical work students do.

I'm sure I'll have more to add to this post in the days ahead, however this is a good start. I will add additional ideas I cull from experience, research, and outreach below:

  • Early in the year teach students how to master Google Draw--this is a valuable tool for math visualization.