Math Makeover: Eliminating math phobias

One of the curriculum subjects I enjoy learning more about is math because I know it is feared by a lot of students. One of my favorite things as a teacher is eliminating math phobias from students who previously HATED math and never imagined actually enjoying it! This week I watched an insightful TedTalk by Dan Meyer titled Math Class Needs a Makeover. One of the biggest things I am going to take from this video is to be mindful of the type of questions I ask students. The video can be found here: http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_meyer_math_curriculum_makeover

Even though we don’t use text books anymore, the types of questions asked to our students could be one of the main factors as to why students are struggling with math. Using practice questions that are similar to the test the students will see, or “teaching to  the test” does not develop patient problem solvers or build math comprehension. As teachers we need to have open ended questions that provide opportunities for defense and then  have good math conversation about the problems. This helps build the foundation our students will need to succeed in the future.

During my first few years as a teacher, anytime I saw a student struggling with math I would jump in and try to save them as soon as I saw a mistake. I thought I was helping the student from getting frustrated or confusing themselves further, when in reality I was robbing them of the opportunity for struggle. Struggle is when the students learn and it is very true that we can learn from our mistakes. According to Meyer, having the conversation about the problem and being patient with their problem solving is what builds a students math comprehension. After watching this video I am going to try to use multimedia for my problems, let students build the problems, and be less of a lifeguard.

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