Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Why do I need to learn math? Reason #1

In anticipation of the new year that is just about to start, I am thinking of this age old question that I have probably gotten more than any other question, (including my kids asking, Why?).

Between my five Algebra 1 Periods, the students I work with in Robotics, the lunch time students, after school students, class of 2020 students that I advise, this is the most often question that I get. Why do I have to take math? I am never going to use it.

I am going to write down a few of my answers that I plan to give them. If you come up with more, please, make a comment.

The first thing that I thought of was they need to pass this class because it is a requirement for graduation. Then they have science classes they need to pass for the same reason. If students do well in math, they will have the advantage over the students in these classes.

I feel that reason is really a cop out. Of course they have to pass the class, but that is not what they are needing to hear.

The first real reason I have is that it builds their brains. I know that the more math I learn, the smarter I seem to feel. I have to agree that I am not comfortable with that math headache that I get. There is this particular side of my head that when I am really working on critical thinking about problems, it hurts. At first I didn't like it and thought something was wrong. Then I began to relate it to the learning I was doing. It was just like when I go to the gym. I was building my brain. I was exercising my brain just like I exercise my body.

Math helps develop critical thinking skills. This is a necessary skill to have in the real world. I don't think I am helping my students by giving them 100 problems to solve one way, but I need to come up with problems that will help develop their thinking. If I can do this, then I believe that they will be more successful.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Correction Procedure?

If mistakes are important to our brain's growth then why not give Students the opportunity to correct their mistakes to earn credit. I found this on

What procedures do you use for students and making up their mistakes, if any?

Do you think this type of procedure makes a difference?

Is half credit appropriate? 

First day activity

If making a mistake in math helps our brains to grow (see Mistakes post), then we need to change the way we handle student mistakes in the classroom.

How do we change the way a student thinks of mistakes in the math class?

This is an activity I plan to try the first day in my Algebra 1 class this year.

Take a piece of paper. Put your name on the paper.

Write on the paper your feelings when you make a mistake in math.

Crumble it up.

Now take that crumbled piece of paper and throw it at the board with the feelings that they have when they make a mistake in math.

Now, go retrieve your paper.

Unfold the paper and smooth it out.

Turn the paper over to the blank side. Take a colored marker or pencil and start to trace the lines of that crumbled piece of paper. This represents the new synapses that grow in your brain when you make a mistake.

Now take that piece of paper and put that in your notebook for this entire year to remind you that mistakes are just proof that your brain is growing.