Sittin' home this morning. Got a feverish kid whose only two requests are:
2. Brady Bunch
So in between pickle runs and echoes of "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia," I've been contemplating...
If I could give just one gift to new teachers or homeschoolers, I'd share what I wish someone had told me about teaching math.
Teaching Math: What I Wish I'd Known
1. There are many, many ways to solve problems. The "standard algorithm" that we were taught is just one way. (Imagine my surprise to learn that other countries teach other "standard" methods!")
Kids that are only taught to follow one method are at a severe disadvantage. Those who can select from a variety of strategies are able to chose the most efficient. When kids are given opportunities to test out many different strategies, they find those that work best for them. Which leads me to...
2. Trust kids. When my son started working on multi-digit subtraction, he didn't gravitate toward any familiar (to me!) strategies. When he discovered something that worked for him, I had NO. CLUE. what he was doing. He explained it to me OVER. And OVER. And OVER. I couldn't do it his way. But he could. And fast. He found his own path; had I chosen one for him, it's doubtful that my choice would have been such a perfect match.
3. Manipulatives and visual models matter. A lot! When I first saw all the pattern blocks and base ten pieces and tile and...and...and...I wondered if all this STUFF could really be anything more than glorified toys. But manipulatives and visual models have changed my life. Now I can see a multiplication problem in my head and solve it mentally thanks to base ten pieces. I can figure fraction problems after experiencing them in egg cartons, geoboards and pattern blocks. The number line--once on paper, now in my head--makes addition and subtraction fast. It would have been so much easier if I'd been taught this way in the first place.
4. Cool books make concepts come alive. Had I known about all the awesome math-related children's literature, I might have pursued math education a long time ago!
5. Teaching math is about so much more than numbers. For example, the Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice emphasize the "doing" parts of math...things that often apply to areas of life beyond math. Who wouldn't want kids to "Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them" or "Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others." Good math teaching prepares kids for a lot more than math!
What do you wish you'd known about teaching (or learning) math?
Also, a great post for further reading:
From Teaching My Baby to Read - the author talks about teaching math from a constructivist perspective. She begins, "I teach math from a Constructivist perspective, which means enabling children to develop their own meaningful strategies for solving problems, instead of just blindly teaching traditional algorithms. I believe in giving children time, space, and materials to explore mathematical concepts and create their own understanding, before you start imposing your own thinking upon them." Find the entire article here.
Credit for the graphic goes to MyCuteGraphics.com!
And the problem solving for the day...how many pickles can a kid eat before he starts to pickle? Or how many Brady Bunch episodes can a mom watch before she cries