Today is the first day back to work following the OAME conference in Toronto. I found it affirming to discover that many of the changes (and challenges) that are happening here are in line with what is going on in the Provincial schools.
Amy Lin, who has been working with the Grade 7 and 8 teachers at Pontiac and Mrs. Cheechoo in Grade 9/10, challenged all of the Math educators present at the Ignite session on Friday to start a Math movement. It is important that math become more than just a subject that students have to get credits in to be able to graduate from High School. As teachers, we need to work to make math engaging for students – to make it a subject that they look forward to rather than dread.
I believe that the greatest challenge is removing the textbook as the central source of questions for math. While what Marian Small (www.onetwoinfinity.ca) said is true, that textbooks are not evil – they are also not the be all and end all of math questions. The questions that are presented in textbooks often rush the teacher to provide formulas and algorithms before students have had the opportunity to explore the concept and the relationships between the information that has been given.
In order for students to have a deeper understanding of the mathematics in which they are engaging, they need to be able to take some ownership over their learning. To parrot Dan Meyers (blog.mrmeyer.com) – in the math classroom, we need to explore more and explain less.