Why Am I Teaching This?

I’ve had the privilege to engage in some fantastic conversations with math teachers of every grade level in and out of my district. I’ve discovered that sometimes teachers feel that some of the objectives they teach serve no purpose, which leads to frustration. They may think “there’s no real-world application for it”, “it will be done later with a calculator so why bother”, or they feel the objective will never “appear” again anywhere down the line. To be honest, I’ve thought the same thing in my own classroom. Sometimes I was right, and sometimes I was wrong. But I needed someone else (usually a grade/course or two higher) to show me WHY it was important and it led to great discussions that really opened my eyes.

If you feel that way about an objective in your curriculum, please fill out this Google form. I’d also like your Twitter ID to contact you later with questions (if you’re willing).

My goal is to (hopefully) start helping making connections and developing relationships across the grades. I think it would be really amazing to see some collaboration between K-12 teachers**. I want elementary and middle school teachers to see how important they are to laying the foundation to higher level mathematics and also allow high school and college math teachers to see where concepts are being introduced in the lower levels. And maybe (pretty please?) foster ideas for student collaboration between a high school class and an elementary class.

Thanks in advance for your input!

**special thanks to @druinok for helping me work out the kinks of this idea!


2 thoughts on “Why Am I Teaching This?

  1. Honestly Hedge, as I learned more about classes above mine, I realized the big reason I am teaching something is because it ladders to the next courses.

    I tell learners and think about math like this. Algebra 1 = learning letters in English. You are learning the ABC's. You start off then making very simple words, cat, to, hat, on, etc. These math “sentences” are very simplistic and really useful for anything other than laddering the language.

    Then in Algebra 2, you start learning how to make larger sentences that can be used to describe things.

    Trig this gets even more obvious because we can describe motion that is cyclical.

    Finally it is calculus where the real “sentences” about the world are composed into paragraphs and the world is truly described in math. Stats does the same thing, but we use more words than symbols, but the hurdle of vocab and construction is the same.

    This outlook has helped me, as well as many other teachers as I explained it to them. Then it is just about fitting where they are into the ladder.


  2. I try to introduce the idea of normal distribution from quite an earlier age usually year 7 ( which here in the uk is 11 and 12 years old). I start the discussion when I introduce averages and link it to height and weight. I have measured the classes height and plotted them from smallest to biggest and you can usually see a bit of a normal distribution occurring. This improves if you do it with the whole year group.
    It's a start and by the time they hit A Levels they don't feel phased as its something they have seen before.


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