Math = Love: Student Teaching...Day One Complete

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Student Teaching...Day One Complete

Well, I've survived my first day of student teaching.  I apologize in advance if this blog post seems fragmented.  It is fragmented.  After a day of observing and interacting with students, I have so many thoughts floating through my head.  Actually, the word "thoughts" in the preceding sentence could be replaced with "questions" as I look back over what I have written.  I don't have the answers to these questions right now.  Some of them I may never have answers for.  But, I fear that if I do not record them today, they will be lost.  Because a hundred new questions and thoughts will likely take their place tomorrow.     

Algebra 1
Today, I noticed that the majority of problems that students had were with negatives and fractions.  Though I was surprised at the fact that many students still struggled with the fact that a negative times a negative is a positive, I was more surprised how many students just ignored the negative signs altogether.  It was as if the negative signs were invisible to the students.  Why?

When are we ever going to use this?
The class had been reviewing how to solve inequalities for less than five minutes when this question was posed.  My cooperating teacher was quick to remind the students that while they might not use algebra in their lives, they will use the logical thinking skills that algebra teaches daily.  To me, math and its applications surround us.  Working for my family's business, I have the opportunity to use algebra on a regular basis.  But, I realize I am an exception.  How can I make math relevant to my students?

Other than the geometry problems I worked on my teacher certification exam, this is really my first exposure to geometry since my freshman year of high school.  Today, I realized that geometry is about the WHY? question.  Sure, we ask students to find the measure of angle 2.  But, almost always, this is followed up with the question of why that is true.  Students are, for maybe the first time, being asked to justify their steps.  The fact that students have so little experience talking about mathematics becomes soon evident.

Why do we ask the WHY? question in geometry but not algebra?  In algebra, we want to know if students know WHAT we are solving for, WHAT the solution to the equation is, WHAT the slope of the line is, ...

1 comment:

  1. Super cute blog! Thanks for commenting on mine! ALL of my students (grades 6-8, Including my algebra nerds taking 9th grade math), struggle with negative and positive integers and fractions...they almost always ignore the negative sign. I am still working with them to realize how important signs are. I am teaching adding and subtracting polynomials right now and I make the students highlight all the signs before they begin the problem. Can't wait to read your future posts. Good luck with student teaching!