Today was the first day of “Math Is Everywhere” Week. We want students to realize the value in math, and we want them to engage in meaningful discussions about math as well. Today, students were asked to bring in a “book that has to do with any topic in math.”
When I saw the focus for today, I thought that students would bring in books like, Mouse Shapes, where math is embedded as part of the story. With this in mind, I was completely surprised by what I saw. Almost all of the students brought in math workbooks. I hadn’t considered this possibility at all.
This new focus on problem solving though has taught me to “expect the unexpected.” There is not one right answer. Meet students where they’re at and move them forwards. So for our Sharing Time today, students shared the books that they brought in and how these books relate to math:
Then I thought of my overall goal. I want students to see that math does not need to be taught in isolation. I want them to see that they can look and find math in everything that they do. Here’s my plan then: tomorrow, I’m going to have them pick storybooks and look for “math” in these books. What will they see? Will they be able to apply what we’ve learned in class to what they see in these storybooks? Can they create their own math problems and share their own math stories? I’m interested to see what happens!
What would you do given this same situation? I’d love to hear your ideas as well!
“I want students to see that math does not need to be taught in isolation. I want them to see that they can look and find math in everything that they do.”
I agree; this is very important for students to understand. Furthermore, even in isolation mathematics should be more about discovery than problem solving per se. This is for number of reasons. Firstly, understanding and discovering concepts in mathematics leads to an ability to solve many types of problems whereas being able to solve specific problems does not necessarily lead into a deep understanding of concepts involved. Secondly, and quite obviously, if mathematics is taught in isolation, children grow up thinking “when will I ever need this in real world”.
Your plan sounds great and I too am interested to hear what happens.
I don’t know about any specifics ideas, but considering math education I think than it helps also to raise awareness on a superficial level. For example, how we wouldn’t have computers, game consoles or computer graphics without mathematics. (I find this quite interesting: http://www.sciencedaily.com/videos/2007/0503-math_in_the_movies.htm )
All the best! Math is Everywhere!
Thanks for the comment! You make some interesting points. When I think of “problem solving,” I also think of “discovery.” I don’t see problem solving all about just figuring out the answer, but also about exploring the concepts, communicating ideas, and pushing your own thinking and the thinking of those around you. Maybe my definition of problem solving overlaps problem solving and discovery.
I’m excited to see what happens with the book activity too. I’m sure that I’ll be blogging more. Hopefully students will start to see that math really is everywhere!