How Cool is my Math Class?
I’m currently taking a math methods course, which means that I’m learning how to teach math. And it has been AMAZING. The course is MTED 2200 with Dr. Gresalfi. I walk out of every 75 minute class feeling like my mind has expanded. And it truly does! It’s no surprise that a ton of research has been done between when I was learning about addition and subtraction back in 2nd grade and now as I’m preparing to teach my own 2nd graders! This being said, there have been a ton of changes in the way we approach teaching math and even talking about math with kids.
To explain this without using too much academic language from the class that really wouldn’t mean anything to the average blog reader, basically we now focus entirely on teaching kids to understand math and think analytically, prepared to explain their thought processes and all the “why’s” behind each operation. This is completely inversed form when I remember simply memorizing math facts and being timed on how fast I could recall that 3×4=12. Now, we never time students. Instead, we support them and set up a context form them to feel comfortable answering why 3×4=12.
Another example is that we all learned how to do math around a “base 10”. We talk about numbers in their relation to the next 10, etc. For kids, they don’t immediately have this background. We have to teach them! In order to really wrap our minds around this, we spend a whole class trying to learn math with a “base 6” rule instead of the “base 10” we know. This really put us in the mindset of our future students, and it was really frustrating! We had so many questions that we can now anticipate our students asking us, so we can start preparing answers. I have never been challenged like that in a class!
The last assignment we’ve done that I want to brag about (it’s seriously such a cool and applicable class) is curriculum redesign. As real teachers, we’re going to be given standards and textbooks to teach out of, mostly without any say in the matter. So what happens if our textbooks totally go against everything we’ve been learning about how to teach math in the best way? Our professor addresses that. In fact, we’ve had multiple assignments where we’re given a worksheet from a textbook and are asked how we would change it to best promote mathematical thinking and understanding in our students. We started out by discussing this in groups then had chances to reflect upon it more individually in the form of papers or projects. We each have the opportunity as well to meet with her one-on-one after we get back each curriculum redesign to make sure all of the questions we have (about her grading, our future teacher, what have you) are answered. Dr. Gresalfi is truly an amazing professor and this class is making me feel more and more excited and-this is even more crucial-prepared to teach math to elementary school students. I’ll teach the practicum of this course next semester, (which means I’ll be teaching a real class math once a week!) and I seriously can’t wait.