Larry and Stu have been teaching high school math for 10 years. They take a load off in the teachers’ lounge at lunchtime.
Larry: Y’know Stu, I’ve been doing a lot of reading on the Internet. There’s some great stuff out there. And I’m convinced that Math Class Needs a Makeover
Stu: What do you mean, Larry?
L: We gotta make math real-world.
L: OK, see there are these Russian Dolls. And, oh yeah, these escalators. And there’s a whole mess of these graphing stories. Kids watch these videos and they make a graph showing the relationship between time and height, or time and distance, or heck-there’s even one on time and time!
S: Sounds interesting, Larry. Tell me more.
L: Right, so you show this video and kids ask the question. You don’t have to give them some phoney-baloney task, the video leads them right to it. (By the way, do you know what exogenous means?)
S: No idea. But, OK, kids ask the question. Cool. Then what?
L: Well, then you give ’em whatever information they need to solve the problem. And you let them work, or maybe some days you lecture. But the point is, they’re motivated to do the work because they asked the question and they identify with the context.
S: Good. Go on….
L: OK. Then after they answer the question, you don’t just look in the back of the book for the answer, you show the answer in the video. They see the results of their calculations. If they’re right, they get validated. If they’re wrong they know they’re wrong. They get that math solves real problems.
S: Nice. Do we do videos every day?
L: No. That would get old. Once every couple of weeks or so.
S: What do we do in between?
L: Well, what we’ve always done.
S: Oh, so not all of Math Class Needs a Makeover? Just 10% of it?
L: Maybe. Or maybe we flip the classroom; I’ve read about that, too.
Any effort at improving a single dimension of math instruction should be interpreted as an endorsement of all the rest?
Take it up with Larry and Stu.
Oh…and sorry about all the pingbacks.
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