When I was in the 8th grade, I really had a difficult time grasping math concepts. Much of it came from the fact that I didn't get a solid foundation in math based around specific mathematical concepts years prior to being in 8th grade. In fact when it was time for math, a nervous feeling came over me. I would start sweating and my heart would begin to beat at a fast pace. I couldn't fathom the thought of being called on to answer a question. Once, the teacher was going over a problem and I remember her singling me out to see if I understood what she was doing. Embarrassed and afraid of telling her the truth -which was that I really didn't understand- I nodded my head and pretended that I did. I certainly didn't want to look like a "dummy" in front of my classmates who clearly understood what they were doing. So I "faked it" just to save face. Needless to say, I ended up getting an "F" on the math test. That feeling of seeing my grade compared to the other students sitting around me made me feel worse...I dreaded math class and begin to believe that I would never be good at math.
For so many students and adults, when it comes to math they find it difficult to understand key concepts. Topics such as geometry, measurement, multiplication, division, and the most challenging of them all...FRACTIONS tends to make math a subject to avoid if at all possible. What I discovered over the years was that I was very capable of being good at math. As I grew more comfortable with asking for help, I learned that I hadn't grasped those foundational skills needed when it came to making sense of numbers (i.e. estimating, discussing strategies for solving problems, trying/testing different strategies, etc.). These things are extremely necessary when building a solidified foundation for math. In addition to great teachers along the way who saw my potential and encouraged me along the way, I grew into a student that loved math! In fact I am now a Math Coach! Look at how God will use those things that were once a challenge/struggle for you and turn it around so that you can be a blessing to others!!!!
As I read an article by Stanford University Math Professor Jo Boaler, I was immediately reminded of that scared little 8th grader who didn't believe in her abilities and who was too afraid to ask for help. As I share with teachers often during Instructional Coaching rounds, it is so important that you know your students so that your lesson plans are designed to meet the needs of ALL the students in your classroom. In addition to this week's post, I have also included the article by Professor Boaler. Feel free to read it when you have a chance; I believe you will find the suggestions for implementation of effective math instruction useful in your classrooms. As we continue to improve our practices in education, let's also build on creating classroom environments that encourage our students to become risk takers. This happens when classroom teachers promote safe spaces that allow students to make mistakes; and in turn, the teacher and other students positively clear up any misconceptions through class discussions...this is when authentic learning takes place! Until next time...go out there and be GREAT!
Article of the Week
Hello to all reading this post! If you are a teacher, school administrator, or instructional coach like me, I hope you are enjoying your summer vacation so far. I am especially enjoying this much needed break from the hustle and bustle of work; needless to say, I look forward to the weeks ahead. While I'm enjoying time off I have been getting out to enjoy time with family and friends. In fact, I wanted to dedicate this post to one of the celebrations that many people recognize every year...So over the weekend in many parts of the country, Juneteenth was celebrated. For some who may be wondering what Juneteenth is or even what that means, Juneteenth Independence Day or Freedom Day, is an American holiday that commemorates the June 19, 1865, announcement of the abolition of slavery in the U.S. state of Texas, and more generally the emancipation of enslaved Africans and Black Americans throughout the former Confederacy of the southern United States. Its name is a combination of the word"June" and "nineteenth", the date of its celebration. It is important to note that Juneteenth is recognized as a state holiday or special day of observance in forty-five states. A celebration was held in my city this past weekend on the lawn outside the history museum. The celebration included poetry reading by local Black authors, African dance, Black vendors selling African and Black artwork, as well as the historical reenactment of the news being delivered to slaves in Galvaston, Texas 1865.
Although Juneteenth is recognized in many parts of the country, most Social Studies curriculum fails to include this information so that our young people are made aware of the significance of this holiday.
Below are a a few links that I wanted to share with you this week as part of my post about Juneteenth, I hope you find them helpful. In the meantime, stay cool during these early summer days and as always...go out there and be GREAT!
Below are websites that teach the importance of Juneenth...Check them out!
With the end of the school year brings summertime fun. From what I was told by at least one child in every grade level before the last day of school, is that they are looking forward to those days where they can stay up a little longer than they can on school nights. Many also told me that they are looking forward to enjoying a little "fun in the sun", going on vacation with family, or simply getting a break from the daily school routine. While those things are certainly rewarding after a long school year, it is important that students do not fall into what is known as the "Summer Slide".
According to a newsletter from the Harvard Graduate School of Education(2) on average, students lose 2.6 months of learning in math during summer break. They also note that math learning loss is bigger than reading and cuts across all socioecnomic backgrounds. They suggest that while reading activities are often part of a family's daily life, parents and kids don't usually think about math outside the classroom (try imagining a bedtime math routine rather than a reading routine).
I am hopeful that the interactive pages in the Intentional Toolkit will give children an opportunity to brush up on math concepts that were taught during the school year. Here's to a great summer...Now go out there and be GREAT!
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