Oct 13, 2022Liked by Dan Meyer

I agree with Dan's notion that a lot of the problems with Algebra can be attributed to “ineffective algebra curriculum and instruction.” But, after 30 years in the math classroom, I'd say that math education can be moving forward in a really positive direction. Platforms such as Desmos Classroom really give students the opportunity to visualize what were once only theoretical and abstract concepts. Also, student ownership in their learning can really be enhanced with the use of interpretational feedback. Math education no longer has to be about "did I get the right answer to this problem"? I'm optimistic that as more teachers come into this mindset, both student achievement AND student perceptions of math will rise.

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Funny that just yesterday at our High School Math Dept. meeting, we in the "old guard" were just arguing for more relevance and concrete lessons to help students acquire the skills to move to abstract math (what we call naked math at our building, because when you say naked in class, kids tune in really fast). We were frustrated that we lost the art of making connections due to Covid, and the current plan to fill in the gaps have teachers rushing to teach skills instead of deeper learning.

Luckily for me, our principal said he would rather we slow down to help kids learn instead of keeping pace with the curriculum map for the sake of staying with the calendar. My kids had a fantastic lesson in Algebra 1 experiencing exponential decay in the study of insulin amounts in the bloodstream. Almost every student I had knew someone with diabetes and how they take shots or have a pump and they jumped right in! Another lesson was on radioactive decay and nuclear plants should there be a leak, and it just so happened they knew about Chernobyl and the situation in Ukraine and the war hitting close to a plant. In addition, we studied growth with bacteria and the chessboard/rice story. But finished the unit with paper folding, which let us watch the Myth Busters fold a football field size piece of paper 11 times!

Now, to get them comfortable with presenting math problems is the next step!

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