I’m fortunate enough to have attended a progressive school where playing and problem solving with math was more important than being fast and accurate. This philosophy helped me through all aspects of my career. I became a teacher later in life after over ten years in software product management (big dollar pay for solving problems!) I volunteered in my daughter’s first grade class and knew that I could help students love math. So I transitioned to a teacher. Fortunately I know that understanding math concepts is key to loving math. Today (school started last week), a former student came into my class and I invited her to talk to my class about the “math struggle” that they will all feel is much more rewarding when you work through it, than if your parents give you the shortcut! She told of a story when she went home and her mom told her the shortcut to dividing decimals and when she returned to school I asked her how the shortcut worked. She spent over a week figuring it out, and she did!
This chapter includes various examples with research, that shows the importance of students understanding concepts before formulas.
Also a key concept that really resonated with me, is that in order for students to properly file away a small nugget of information in their hippocampus, the information needs to come from a huge brain explosion. Meaning the brain needs to explore, play, expand, and try a variety of ideas before the new knowledge can be compressed. To often, teachers try to teach the quick and easy math routine, but with out the concepts, the information nugget doesn’t find a “hook” in the brain to attach to.
My Big Takeaway
To enjoy learning math, students need to explore, play, and think deeply about concepts.
Three Tips to help my students think deeply about math
1. Add math play to my daily math routine
I can create a math center full of puzzles, Tangrams, blocks, that students can just play with. I think this will work for all grades!
2. Memorizing math facts aren’t important to be successful at math
I will make understanding the concepts the important step so that facts and fluency make sense.
3. Provide math processing time
I need to provide a time for students to think, explain, and reflect on their math knowledge.
Thanks for reading and let’s revolutionize math learning!
– Evil Math Wizard