Well-Rounded Mathematicians

By February 1, 2020July 1st, 2020Uncategorized

First, and foremost, I hope that you are all happy, healthy, and loved. If you know someone who is living alone, make a point to reach out to them and make sure they know you care for them.

Secondly, I have had the pleasure of teaching online classes to kids from around the world.

I love it! I get to meet kids from Malta to Maryland. The kids are loving it, too. They are chatty and smiley and don’t complain when I give them homework. One student even said, “Can I have homework? What else have I got to do?”

These past few weeks, I have been thinking about the blog I wrote last Monday “Who do we deem “gifted”, “smart” or “high” ?”  and noticing how it might show up with the kids I have in my classes. There are some students who can answer a story problem or equation so quickly I question why I even posed the problem. I, initially wanted to change my curriculum all around, but then I noticed something else. The students who could quickly answer the questions, struggled with developing models of the problems. Many of them refused to make area models, their number lines were completely inaccurate, their graphs were in complete disarray, and one student even claimed to have no more paper in the house (I talked to his mom, they did).

When working with mathematics we want to build well-rounded mathematicians. We want to develop students who can fully comprehend the problems placed before them. Fully rounded means they have the ability to create models that clearly illustrate the situation to others, they can create equations that can be set up and solved in more than one way, and they can use words to explain their process and reasoning.

We want to develop well-rounded mathematicians who can face new and unforeseen challenges with precision, and can develop the models that communicate the story behind the numbers. If you have been following the news, and I am sure you have, some of you may feel the impact of the numbers as they appear across the screen, others may  be deeply affected by the charts and graphs, while others are tuned in to hear the personal stories behind it all. Together, the numbers, models, and words create a powerful impression on all of us. The sum becomes greater than its parts.

Let’s make it our practice to ask for and expect more than just numbers from our students. Let’s make it our practice to ask for and expect numbers, models (charts, graphs, number lines), and words so that they and we  can use mathematics to get the full picture of situations. You never know which one might just make the difference