How different is your current classroom from the one in which you learned when you were a student?

It has been great to read Jim’s blog about teaching math. I see my own experiences and those of my colleagues at our school, but it’s nice to read about other schools and their view of math education. We had some interaction, not necessarily agreeable. We both agreed that the content has not changed, but the methods have. I stated also that content should have changed in the last 30 years. With the advent of technology permeating the classroom, and the push for more collaboration with other students, teachers, and classrooms globally, you would think we would change the math curriculum. No, we basically teach the same content we did in 1977. I really believe we need to use more technology to understand math content. Mathematics is very visual, at times, very beautiful. We are denying this aspect the way we teach mathematics, especially in algebra. I have taught my students how to check solutions to systems of linear equations (where two lines intersect) by having them use Desmos, a powerful graphing calculator app for mobile devices. Students perform multi-step, hand manipulations to solve this type of problem on paper. It would be nice for students to verify their solution by utilizing technology. In a reply to a post from Mariah, I stated I didn’t understand why it was okay to use technology in upper level math courses like calculus (even expected for AP exam) but we don’t expect this sort of integration in lower level math.

Another area that I read from Kendra that I liked was that she teaches math that is self-paced by students. Even though it was in relation to differentiated instruction, it is very much related to math education of today. With technology, it is possible to allow students to reach mastery and learn at their own pace, independent of the pace of the class as a whole. I believe this is one aspect of math education that should change compared to my childhood. As much as teachers agree with this last comment, most do not take steps to make this a reality for students. Maybe it’s an issue of not having technology to make it happen, or inability to visualize and materialize this pedagogy, or outside factors that are out of control of the teacher. It is my dream to see this aspect of math education become a reality in the next decade. I hope my future grandchildren will be able to say that they learned math in this manner.

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