In his talk, Dan Meyer shows classroom-tested math exercises that prompt students to stop and think
- a plethora of 3-Act math tasks
- plenty of estimations
- math arguments
- visual patterns
- an amazing graphing calculator
- a company that prides itself on creating cool math lessons so you don't have to
- a site that asks if you agree or disagree
- another one that asks which choice you would rather make
- how to talk math with your kids
- a Conference, TMC, dedicated solely to building relationships
- how to nix the tricks in math class
- an abundance of math mistakes to analyze
- a few solid graphing stories
- a "holy derivative of food" search engine
And this is just what I know of, which I'm certain isn't even the best stuff. In short, math is getting its makeover. In no way are we done, and hopefully we never get to the point where we feel like math instruction is perfect. My teaching improved exponentially with knowledge of these resources and the people who are behind their existence.
Matt Vaudrey and I have the honor of going around to school districts to share many of these resources and inspire teachers to give their own classrooms an instructional makeover. Overall, people leave inspired and ready to tackle the challenge of trying some of the new resources that we put in front of them. More importantly, we expose them to what has helped us become decent math teachers.
To avoid sounding naive here, we are certainly not the only ones spreading the love that has been rebranded as the MTBoS (Math Twitter Blog-o-Sphere - math teachers who are on twitter and are active in blogging). In fact, plenty of our online friends and people we have never met are doing great work to bring awareness and motivation, changing their own classroom dynamics, and giving back to the math community in ways that continue to amaze us all.
Even still, math looks the same. Math feels the same. Math even smells the same: old, bland, dry, forced, hated. <---- Go ahead, click to see what people think about math. Although it's a predicable outcome of clicking there, it's amazing to see how many people actually proclaim their hatred of something that can provide so many opportunities. Common Core State Standards aren't going to change that. Standards for Mathematical Practice aren't going to change that.
Math is getting its makeover, no doubt about it, but it hasn't taken the baton with the vigor and passion that Dan conveyed in his talk. More importantly, it doesn't feel like significant progress is really being made. Is there really a makeover? Or is it just spot treatment for those who are hungry enough to look for different pastures?
What can we do about improving the quality of math instruction, the level of student engagement, and the desire to be good at math?
Deep down inside, I wish that every teacher gets to experience the quality conversations that the MTBoS and Twitter in general have to offer. I wish that they all get to develop the question better with Dan. I wish that they all get a feast of ideas from La Cucina Matematica that can be customized for their students. But when it all boils down to essentials, I wish that they had someone to be there and care for their teaching styles.
An article about "The Biggest Loser" was recently published at the Huffington Post, telling about the reality of the show and how harsh it really is:
"One of the complaints I've heard most frequently is the lack of after care"
"The biggest thing is losing control," Morelli admitted. "If I could have stayed in that environment ..." Deckman trailed off, regretting the fact that he had just come off a period of over six months without working out at all, "Well, it would have been easier."
As professionals, we need to lean on, and reach out to, our colleagues and continue to lift them up as we all learn and handle the changes that come with such a powerful shift in pedagogy. Rome certainly wasn't built in a day, sure. In fact, it's still being built.
Yes, math is getting a glorious makeover, but it's our job to spread the beauty and make sure people know about it. My goal is to continue the trend of share, share, share, and be the shoulder that any math teachers need to lean on for their own makeover. Hopefully I can lead them in the right direction.
Happy Makeover Fishing