Beware: This is not your average blog post

 

I am currently taking a mathematics methods class, learning how children or students learn mathematics concepts and how best to teach them by following the guidelines set by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM).

My experience learning mathematics as a student:

Now that I am in the process of becoming an Elementary teacher, I find myself thinking back to my experiences in school. My high school mathematics teacher was very passionate about the subject; she knew what she was teaching and really wanted to help us understand it. Her passion and knowledge of math is what made me love it. I hope to bring the same amount of passion and knowledge to my future classroom.

What I loved and hated about math:

I love geometry. There is something satisfactory about problem solving and applying reasoning and proof to solve a geometry problem. I never enjoyed calculus, probably because the way I was taught focused heavily on procedural knowledge; I had no conceptual knowledge of calculus. However, I have both conceptual and procedural knowledge of geometry, so it made sense to me. I was not taught data analysis and probability, which is a NCTM Content Standard.

How my understanding of mathematics was assessed in school:

When I was in school we were mostly assessed by means of formal objective (right or wrong) assessments. Our grades were influenced by our answers to the questions, as well as whether our methods were correct – simply getting the correct answer was not enough.  However, we were only required to explain our reasoning through our computation of the problem.

NCTM Process Standards and my experience with them:

The NCTM math process standards were not followed when I was in school; but, the process standards I do remember encountering were problem solving, reasoning and proof, connections, and representation. Communication was not something that was deemed important for mathematical instruction when I was in school. I believe if the process of communication was a focus in my math instruction, I would have gained more conceptual knowledge and may have excelled in more content areas.

Why the NCTM Process Standards are important in mathematics classrooms today:

The NCTM process standards ensure that mathematic instruction is not limited to procedural knowledge. Today students are expected to “develop their reasoning skills, sharpen their problem-solving abilities, see how mathematics connects to other branches of mathematics and other subjects, and communicate their thought processes to others using the language of mathematics in written and oral form… [this] will enable…students to function better in the scientific society in which they will spend the rest of their lives“ (Exemplary Practices for Secondary Math Teachers, 2007, p. 10).

 

What was your experience like, learning mathematics in school? What do you think could have made it better or more effective?

(If you want to know more about the NCTM Principles and Standards: http://www.nctm.org/)

Reference

Exemplary Practices for Secondary Math Teachers (2007). Alfred S. Posamentier, Daniel Jaye, and Stephen Krulik. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, p3-12. From Gale Virtual Reference Library.

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10 thoughts on “Beware: This is not your average blog post

  1. As a complete stranger (and as a teacher who was where you are at just two years ago) I have to say first that I really like seeing new teachers talking about their experiences. What I really like seeing is taking experiences and discussing how they are going to affect your own thinking in the future. You might want to think/write more about how your learning experience in high school dictates what you feel are right and wrong about learning math. Take those experiences, and figure out, for yourself, why math is important and how you will choose to teach math to your own students. In my opinion, that is how you create passion in teaching a topic: by taking what you know and expanding on that to create as many mini-successes as possible.

    Then you can start applying the best practices that you see in your methods class (or modifying best practices by linking each practice with something you had done before in your own education) and further refine your teaching style.

    And more questions for you! As if your methods course doesn’t have you thinking enough right?

    1) Common core curriculum is coming, and there will be less of an emphasis on how well students can regurgitate information as there will be for students to show their own learning. How will you adapt to that change?

    2) As a math major, I always ask myself why I love math so much (because my students ask me all the time). And I looooooooove math. All forms of it. How does math make you feel? Is it a topic that was important to you throughout your life? Show your passion. As a fellow mathematician, I like your answer to why you love and hate math, but to do you and your students justice in becoming critical thinkers in the future, you NEED to LOVE your answer.

    And remember! Education courses are here to help you think! I hope you don’t take them as just book assignments with a due date 🙂 Complete the work for the due date, but really think about the work for your own growth. And good luck!

    • Hi there — thank you for your insight and thought provoking questions…

      I just wanted to clarify why I did not go very in-depth with this topic…this post was part of an assignment, and I could only use 50 – 75 words per topic… didn’t leave much room for reflections — however, I will think about writing a more in-depth post soon… to answer your questions too! 🙂

      Not to worry — I am a very reflective person and thoroughly enjoy each class… I take my future role as a teacher very seriously and am trying to learn and absorb as much as possible before I finish my degree program! (and I intend to continue to do so once I am certified too.)

      Thanks again for the comment!

      • Oh I knew that it was an assignment 🙂 Which is exactly why I wrote what I wrote. I just also know that the amount of assignments you have plus any student or intern teaching you are doing leads many things to go on the backburner.

        Don’t absorb TOO much though! Don’t want to burn out!!

        • Forget what you learnt in the classroom. Especially math. We can all add. I wanna learn how to read braille then l can read in my sleep .. Sponge Bob Suare Pants absorbs a lot. And sends love .. to you and Matt xxx

          • I will contest that not everyone can add, and that negative integers and decimals up to the hundredths place still slip up many adults. I will be happy if every child leaves school knowing how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide, because that is what stops students from understanding mathematics. It is not because students can’t understand a concept such as “what is the slope of this line,” it is the inability for students to process the calculation of said slope when given two points… because students can’t add or subtract correctly! That leads to defeat, and ultimately leads to the “I can’t do math” syndrome.

            Because most of what I observe in my years thus far is students seeing a problem requiring double digit multiplication or division, or negative and positive integer operations, and they freeze because they don’t understand that the “difficult part” of the problem is the adding subtracting multiplying and dividing, not the understanding of a concept that leads to success.

        • 🙂 I definitely know what you mean – about the backburner! But, rest assured, one thing that will never go on the backburner for me is reflection and using my experiences to make me a better teacher.

          I’m definitely trying to avoid burning out — trying to prioritize and manage my time effectively. Most of my absorbing is coming from watching and learning from other teachers.

  2. I was a bright kid. Until 5th grade and long division. I’m serious. It was the first thing I just DIDN’T GET. And no one could help me. If I had known it was okay to ask for more help, I wouldn’t of had this ‘block’ I never quite got through.

    Second issue: my mom saying, “It’s ok if you don’t get math, I never did, either.” LOL.

    • And that is exactly the problem with education in math now-a-days! To say “its okay to not get math.” If someone you know doesn’t get math, encourage them to go talk to a teacher, go to tutoring, or maybe even http://www.khanacademy.org or the dr. math forums. There are literally hundreds of free resources out there for students to learn. Just need to do as much encouragement as possible, and that students need to understand that its “okay” not to understand it at first, but its not okay to feel defeat that leads to internalizing the bitterness of math ineptitude 😦

      I’m sorry Rachel that someone told you that! But know now that you have the ability to learn with the free resources out there! 🙂 And good luck, of course.

    • 😀 Lol! Rachel,

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and your experiences. You’re definitely right that the perception that not everyone can “get math” is an issue… although I understand why people feel that way.

      This is one of the issues the NCTM principles is trying to correct — one of the biggest things for math teachers today, is to believe in each and every one of their students, and to help them believe in themselve. Every student has the ability and potential to “get it” — if they are taught effectively.

      Long division is one of those silly things — it’s procedural knowledge, being able to know how to “do” long division… if someone took the time to explain the conceptual knowledge behind it — why it works… I bet you would have “got it” and avoided that block! 🙂

      Thanks again for sharing!! 🙂
      xx

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