I was coaching a middle school team of teachers last year when I observed a 7th grade math class. The teacher, whose name for the life of me I can’t locate in my notes, was remarkable.
Her approach was relatively simple. She wrote a problem on the board. Students had five minutes to solve it. Then, she invited three students up to different parts of the room to copy their solutions on the board. The class had to discuss, with the teacher’s deft guidance, whether the answers were correct and whether their process was efficient. She even asked: What other ways could we have solved this? Students cared far less about the answer than the process. The depth and nuance of their conversations in small groups blew me away.
I wasn’t taught math that way. At all.
Parents around the city are now having to support their children’s math education. That’s no small feat. So, I reached out to a master math teacher, Chris Boyd, on a recent episode of Extra Help with Inside Schools to find out what advice he’d give to families. Here’s a clip from Mr. Boyd himself:
“Re-learning the math with your child is not a bad thing... Having a positive attitude for sure, where you don’t say things like, ‘Oh, I was never good at math’ or ‘I could never get this.’ A lot of times that allows the [student] an out...like they don’t need to do it or it’s not that important for them. But I would say the biggest thing with math, what Common Core and Next Gen and all those are trying to do, is to have students become better problem solvers. So, even posing just new or interesting questions to your children could make a difference. If they’re stuck on a problem and are getting frustrated, think outside the box a little bit. Create a problem that is happening now in your own life, like: When will we need more toilet paper?”
Listen to the whole podcast episode for more insight from Mr. Boyd on helping your child with math at home.
Do you have other questions about teaching math? Or, do you have tips you think others can benefit from? Tell us in the COMMENTS!