Friday, June 19, 2015

Sonya New's Reflection after Year 1 teaching IMP Meaningful Math Algebra

Once again I thought that anyone who is reading any of my blog posts concerning the IMP curriculum might like to "hear" from someone else. We are so blessed to have 3 teachers at Etowah High who implemented this algebra curriculum at the same time. Having the opportunity to collaborate throughout the year was incredible! 

The Mom of  2 little ones (like both under age 1 year little) takes a little more time getting her thoughts together. I once again thought you might enjoy hearing from the 3rd teacher (I posted Gary Webb's reflection in a separate post and my reflections in this post) who taught the IMP Meaningful Math Algebra curriculum for the first time this year. Here are Sonya New's thoughts:

Teaching Algebra with the It's About Time curriculum is a much needed complete departure from the norm.  I was always the Algebra teacher that would look at the word problems in the textbook and think wow what a great question and would assign it just to have students not attempt it because "it was too hard" or "I didn't understand what it was asking me to do", so as the year progressed I would resign that kids just couldn't do those problems and basically stick to practice of the most basic problems.  Even after "going over" the "hard" problems my students didn't seem to get it.
When we received our new textbooks my students opened them to discover mostly words, very few numbers, and virtually no "traditional" practice problems.  Students are taught Algebra through situations.  Many students have found Algebra to be a very attainable subject that once thought it was "so hard".  As a teacher and lover of math I have also discovered that Algebra doesn't have to be so structured, formulated, and procedural.  The concepts of Algebra are often "common sense" and when approached from that direction make sense to many students.  By the end of the year my students were no longer afraid of the "hard word problems." They were not intimidated to try them anymore.  They would try to make sense of a problem and work their way around to a solution. Still not all would get the correct solution but at least we had something to work with ;-).
There were times during the year I would question the curriculum.  Are my students really getting it?  What about this formula or this method?  When is this concept covered?  I have learned to relax and trust the progression of the curriculum.  Things are not taught in a traditional progression, but the topics do get covered.  I am still working on my balance between completely trusting and supplementing more practice but I am coming around.  I anticipate each year to get easier for me to understand the beauty of the curriculum and to do a better job of facilitating.  I know this one thing for may have been my first year to use the curriculum and there were definitely flaws in my implementation but I don't want to teach Algebra using anything else!!!