Dear high school math best friend,
How have you been? I know it has been 4 years since we last talked, but I was watching two videos for my education math class at the University of Regina and I began reflecting about my old high school math class and immediately thought of you! These two videos, which can be found at http://www.learner.org/resources/series31.html# (videos #9 Case Study: Group Test and #10 Teacher Insights 9-12) if you’re curious, videotape a variety of math classrooms and discuss the strategies used in each. I would definitely recommend you watch these videos because, even though they may seem a bit retro, they show different views of what a math classroom looks like.
Watching these, they made me think of our math classes. Do you remember how boring our class used to be? How everyday, we completed the same routine over and over again where we would take notes, do examples, and then do homework? For any kind of assessment and evaluation in that course, it was all individual work and we were expected to be quiet and not talk with one another? Well, in the video #9, students are doing group tests and in video #10, students are working in groups and doing inquiry activities and presentations rather than just the boring usual homework. Not once do we see students doing anything that we had ever done in our classroom.
I don’t know if you can, but I can’t believe it! I never knew there was a different way to teach and learn math until I watched these videos. It makes me wonder how much more enjoyable our math classes could have been for not just us but for everyone! Imagine being able to do group tests, talk out our answers and questions with one another, and be able show our understanding and knowledge in a variety of different ways. I know that written exams were not your strongest point, even though you were very intelligent in math. Do you feel that doing something like this would have made math more enjoyable and successful for you, and as well for others?
In video #10, the teachers use two different techniques that I envy and wish would have been implemented in our math class: 1) coloured pages which create organizers for us and provide us with information to help us understand the material and study; and 2) being tested on more than just getting the right answer. The coloured pages seemed like great ways to stay organized, study and learn from, and deepen our understanding of the concepts that we were learning in that class. Organization is something that I definitely need and possibly could have helped you as well. As for being tested on more than just getting the right answer, I know that this would definitely help me out since I always made silly little calculation errors which caused me to lose quite a bit of marks. Also, this shifts the emphasis of the answer being important to the steps of getting to the solution and students thought process.
I hope to hear back from you and I definitely encourage you to check out the videos! I think that your mind will be blown when you see how different math classes can be.
your high school math best friend, Ashley