The blog “Underground Parent” has featured a video presentation I made for the virtual researchED US conference that was held a few weeks ago. The presentation is called “Misunderstandings about Understanding”. It focuses on what understanding in math is, and isn’t. It also looks at how misunderstandings about understanding affect students.
Ted Nutting wrote this piece, which is worth reading, remembering, and passing around the internet:
In the one year that I taught a course for which there was a state end-of-course test (Algebra 1 in the 2011-2012 school year), my students scored better than those from any other teacher in the district. I have the data to prove all this. Why did this happen? I broke the rules and taught real math. In calculus, I used a textbook more aligned with real teaching than the book I was supposed to be using. In algebra, not having an alternative textbook, I made up my own worksheets to accompany the lessons I gave. I actually taught. I presented the material, asking questions frequently to keep students’ attention, and I gave difficult quizzes and tests. I demanded good performance — and the results were excellent.
In an Education Week compilation devoted to “Start the Year With a ‘Primary Focus’ on Relationship-Building” there are several articles, none of which I could finish reading. Here are excerpts from two of them: The first is by Melanie Gonzales, an elementary math curriculum, advanced academics, and early-childhood coordinator in Texas.
“Based on the work of Carol Dweck and Jo Boaler, teachers will encourage students to build a growth mindset. Additionally, time will be spent reminding students that mathematicians notice things, are curious, are organized self-starters, and effective communicators and problem solvers. Finally, they will use their math skills to count out a specific number of snack items and celebrate being mathematicians already!”
The second is by Emily Burrell, a mathematics teacher and co-lead mentor teacher at South Lakes High School in Fairfax County, Va.:
“I teach high school mathematics students who have been marginalized by the public education system. Traditional teaching methods have failed them. It may not be surprising that many of them have failed a math class. My students are uninspired to do math that doesn’t matter to them. I reach these students by providing a curriculum that does matter: a project-based curriculum that provides choice and helps students build their voice.”
See if you can do better than I did.