Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Reading Cheesemonkey: Algebra Class

I'm teaching Intermediate Algebra this semester, which I haven't taught in a while, and so have been rethinking the course. My two big goals are:

  1. Redeem mathematics. These are students in a good university who are having to repeat content they've already seen and maybe more than once. I figure, for most of them, I can infer bad math experiences along the way.  I want them to appreciate math, to know why algebra was a big deal in the first place, and have opportunities to do math.
  2. Free them from the gatekeeper. With a new disposition, I want them to understand the content at a level that will equip them for success in further math classes (which most don't take), or statistics (which 60% do take), or even reconsider majors if they had eliminated something based on math requirements.
Dream big! 
Reality Check by Dave Whamond

As a part of Sam Shah's Virtual Conference on Math Flavors, Elizabeth Statmore wrote an excellent piece on math as a thinking course. So the first assignment included reading and responding to her post.

  • I really liked how Elizabeth emphasized that she does not care really about if you use the math you learn in her class or not. But that the point of her class is to, "learn how to think and communicate at a more advanced level than you are capable of right now."  She makes a very good point there. Most of us grew up hating or dreading math all together and she said that with the skills we learn in math by problem solving and implementing those problems and solutions in real life then we will understand the point of why she wanted them to learn math in the first place.
  • I like the way that Elizabeth talks about math as more than just numbers. She makes real-world connections that may interest others outside of the general math community. The article counters typical stereotypes about math, while building upon the idea that there is more to math than work. Math is problem solving, communication, another language to convey new (and old) ideas. Elizabeth teaches her readers that math is a tool of understanding that can be applied to many situations outside of mathematics. 
  •  I really liked how she made out math to be more than just a school subject, but rather a real world concept we use every single day. She relates it to the real world by saying, "you are going to need to make sense of things you don't initially understand." In this thought, she's saying that of course you aren't going to understand everything you learn right off the bat, but rather to keep trying until you do understand it and feel confident about it. I also like how she said in order to understand something, you have to WANT it and I totally agree with her on this because if you don't care about learning something, then it won't come easy to you. 
  • I  like how Elizabeth says the truth about things and doesn't really cover it. One line that spoke to me was "The fact is that math is a human activity. If you are human, you cannot escape it.." this really brought light to me that even though we may hate taking a class, us as humans need to go through it because its who we are. We need to learn how to communicate and think on a more border subject and open our minds to new concepts and ideas. 
  • I appreciated that she addressed the age old question of "will I ever use this again", as I will admit I have asked this before. I enjoyed Elizabeth's take on math as a way of learning how to communicate better, rather than a class to simply learn how to solve complex problems on a calculator. So while I may not necessarily continue to use every equation I learn this year, I will become overall a better thinker.
  • I really enjoyed that Elizabeth put a whole new spin on how math is used in life. I used to only think that I only learned it to apply to things in my life that needed math but she made me realize how many different ways it can be used. I really enjoyed when she said "What I care about passionately is that you learn how to think and communicate at a more advanced level than you are capable of right now." because it makes me appreciate not only my harder math classes but just all of my harder classes in general.
  • I appreciate how Elizabeth views math as a thinking course filled with discussion and collaboration. As someone who is going into the Hospitality field I value teamwork. It really is what will make or break a business and it really can be what can make or break success in Math.
  • I like how Elizabeth explains that math is more than just looking at meaningless numbers all day. But it takes teamwork and collaboration to explore how you can solve a system of equations using not only constructive thinking but also creative thinking to explore that there are many that you can solve these equations.
  • I like how Elizabeth describes math as more than just numbers and all that good stuff. She adds that if we want to be successful in math, then we have to want to understand it. I also like how she mentions that math can be used as a way to be able to make sense of things and think differently. 
  • I like how Elizabeth included how you have to want something in order to be successful in it. I agree that there is always many different ways to problem solve in math and real life, and we need to learn how to process these ideas. I love how she said we need to be persistent, strong and flexible thinkers in order to do well in life, we can't think the same way for everything or we won't get as far as we could in life. 
  • I personally like how Elizabeth says to understand things, you have to want to understand them. If you accomplish something, there was at some point a want to accomplish it. Elizabeth made math seem as if it was a part of human nature and not just a subject used in school to torture students. She thinks of math as a way to help individuals communicate and think more efficiently. I aim to use Elizabeths point of view, not only in this class, but also in the other classes that I have now and in my future.
  • I like how Elizabeth has her mindset and sticks to it. She believes that you have to want to do well to actually succeed and I agree with that. I also agree with how she makes math more about thinking, rather than just solving and numbers. That way it is much more relevant to the students. Also, she ties in communication which helps the students learn real life skills instead of only learning the course.
  • I liked how Elizabeth explained math and the teaching of math as more than a simple course, and how it is a language understood by all. I also like how she explained that she doesn't care if we liked math, she cared about us changing the way we thought and using it to advance our thinking and communication skills. The perspective she had on the subject was something I had never thought of before, but now makes so much sense. 
Sooo... thank you, Elizabeth!

1 comment:

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