Thanks to our "Meaningful Math adventure" (see this blog post for an explanation) I am having fun teaching math again. I see my students having more fun learning math. Last week I had a student to tell me that she had fun in class that day. I also had some students tell me that we do the most work of any of their classes but my class is also the most fun. I read Teach Like a Pirate this Summer and I have come to realize that it is okay to have a goal of having fun with your students...as a matter of fact we need to throw in some activities that the students will consider a "fun break" from "regular math."
Today I also found myself sitting at my desk working on the High-Low Differences activity in Overland Trail's supplemental activities. I was "noticing and wondering" myself! I was thinking that I really need to find some extra time to investigate why this works like it does. Then I was so ambitious that I answered one of the questions (in a survey I had to take) to indicate that I considered myself to be a mathematician! (HAHA!) I have found value in addressing problems from a student's perspective. Our new textbooks from It's About Time give me many opportunities to have fun working on math and then turn it around to my students as an opportunity to problem solve and enjoy themselves while they do it. I asked them a few times last week if they wanted me to "introduce" them to the activities or let them just try to figure it out on their own. I was amazed at the number of students who wanted to try it without any assistance.
Now, don't get me wrong. I still have students who sit there like "knots on logs" and wait for the problems to be presented to the class so that they can write down the answers - they just hope that when I roll the dice to call on someone that their number is not called. And when I do call on them they tell me they didn't do that problem...and then I talk them through it until I pull the answers out of them...in some cases it would be easier to pull their teeth without anesthesia. I also still have students who gripe and whine and ask for help before I even get the page number out of my mouth. However, it is so cool to catch that student who says he hates our textbooks truly engaged and enjoying himself during an activity (because he figured it out by himself!). This certain student that I have in mind was "called on the carpet" when I told him that I noticed he had fun working on the activity for the day - which just so happened to be "Getting the Gold" that I blogged about here.
I would like to end this blog with a funny picture of what some of my students did last year after I had gotten onto them for sitting there like "knots on logs" instead of doing their work.