Breaking the Fundamental Rule of the Math Class Game – and paying the price
The Fundamental Rule of Math Class: I teach something, you go home, open up the homework, do what I showed you in class, and you’ll be fine. Same thing on the test.
If a student gets some math published, should that hurt the teacher’s evaluation?
Many teachers never deviate from the rule. And me? I obey the rule, too. Most of the time. Even those of us who don’t always do it, we do it more than we used to. (thanks to standardized testing and the insane link between standardized test scores and the teacher’s evaluation score.)
I taught you how to simplify square roots? When you look at the home work, you’ll be asked to simplify square roots. Do what we did in class, and you’ll be fine.
Breaking the Rule
But some days are different. I introduce “problems” – little ones that take a few minutes, and big ones, where I have moved ahead in my curriculum so that we can carve out a day or day and a half here or there. I offer problems that do not fit the Math Class Game – always off-topic, usually using skills from prior units, or prior years. How many games will there be in a single elimination tennis tournament (singles) with 73 players? How many times a day do the minute and hour hands point in the same direction? What’s the biggest perfect square with only even digits?
“… I ask a group of you a question, unrelated to what we did yesterday, seemingly out of left field, that requires only math that you already know, but without any of the usual cues about what tool to use… Questions mix counting, arithmetic, organization, and visualization skills. They require reasoning, planning.”
And for the last three years, I have asked the students to do more, and more. Take one of the “problems” that you already solved, and propose an extension. Change it up to make a new problem, and solve that one. Mostly I get variations of the checkerboard, how many subsets, and Ghost the Bunny.
The Price or the Payoff?
As these are the same students whose standardized test scores determine my year-end rating (Thank you Breaking the Fundamental Rule of the Math Class Game – and paying the price | JD2718: