I teach primarily math to 2-5th graders. A 2nd grade teacher visited my classroom while I was having a “pattern party.” She said to me “We don’t get to teach patterns anymore because of Common Core.” In my head I said, “Wait, what?” But she further explained that there are not any common core standards that explicitly teach patterns so the “curriculum” management team didn’t schedule them into their district curriculum map. Scary, right?
This brief conversation popped immediately in my head as I read this chapter about the Creativity and Beauty in Mathematics. Exploring patterns, playing with patterns, creating patterns, and identifying patterns are essential for strong math minds.I love teaching math, and I want my students to love math as much as I do. So I try to make math fun and engaging for them. So I start the school year (2 & 3 grade) with patterns (no numbers involved). We make people patterns, shape patterns, we go on walks looking for patterns, and I emphasis the importance of patterns. Then we take turns explaining to everyone the patterns we noticed. It’s important to communicate and explain our thinking.
As explained in this chapter, the importance of thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork are crucial skills to Fortune 500 companies (Boeler, 2015, p. 28-29). And these skills can be achieved if we worry less about calculating (step 3 below) and more about the other important stages of math.
My Big Takeaway
Learning math is more than calculating – finding problems, solving them with collaboration, and communicating the results.
Three Tips To Help My Students Make Real-World Connections to Math
1. Make Team Math Projects
I need to take the time and creatively think about how I can include more team math projects. I think most math topics can be taught that way, though it does take more effort on my part. I created a project for perimeters, with teams creating a bids for installing fencing around pools at an apartment complex. My students love doing it!
2. Math Class Should be More Thinking and Less Calculating
Instead of posing problems to calculate, I should spend time with my students just thinking of problems, without even calculating, but rather figuring how to solve them and what strategies to use. That way there would be no emphasis on getting an answer.
3. Discuss Math In Everyday Topics
Politics and the Olympics are rich with engaging math discussions. For example, this article on the mathematical break-down of permutations to explain the likelihood that Melania Trump plagiarized Michelle Obama’s speech would be a great discussion. But instead of sharing the mathematician’s process, I could discuss “Is there a way we could figure out if she plagiarized the speech?” And we would explore different strategies and theories, though we wouldn’t necessarily be able to come up with a definitive answer, the discussion would be fun!
I love how this book is logically explaining how math is so important and beautiful too! Onto the next chapter!