Everybody I know who reads the New York Times felt the need to send me the article Why Do Americans Stink at Math? last week. I reluctantly clicked on the link thinking it was going to be yet another political common core opinion piece either for or against the highly controversial standards. I was pleasantly surprised with the article's refreshing message; it challenged our all-too-common approach in the math classroom of the "I, We, You" script. Many successful countries ask their students to do most of their practicing outside of the classroom, while leaving the tough investigation for the precious time that the students get with their teachers. So why do we spend so much time practicing in the United States? And what are some resources that we can use if we want to veer away from the traditional role of teacher as practice monitor? If you are curious about exploring the "You, Y'all, We" approach, take a look at some of these links below.
I can't say enough about Dan Meyer's Three-Act Math tasks. His inquiry-based approach lends itself perfectly to the "You, Y'all, We" script. Act 1 serves as a hook where students watch an engaging video during which they formulate their own math specific questions. Act 2 requires students to work through at least one of their original questions by being provided with the important numbers and information. Finally, act three is where answers are revealed and discussed.
Teenagers across the country (and maybe even the world) have been playing the 'would you rather' game since the beginning of time. Now math teachers can leverage the power of this age-old game by using scenarios from the Would You Rather? Asking Students to Choose Their Path and Justify It website.
If you work with middle school math students, be sure to check out the PBS resource, Math at the Core: Middle School. This website offers various videos and interactive tools that can be used to spark interest and excitement in the math classroom. Incidentally, the advisor of this collection of resources is holding a webinar next Monday called Make Math Visual: Strategies and Resources for ELL Students. If you're interested in this webinar, register here.