Thursday, September 28, 2017

Math for the 21st Century - Learning Math for a Purpose
It had been fifteen years since I stepped foot into a classroom full of adolescents, and I have to admit the nervousness surfaced when I looked each and everyone of them in the eyes for the very first time. During the past fifteen years, I have learned about effective teaching strategies, standards-based education, and a variety of research-based practices. The only downfall of learning was not having the opportunity to apply this knowledge in a classroom setting. Teaching adolescents, I knew, would be a very rewarding and challenging experience for me, but I was excited and up for it!
Words that describe my feelings about math are...
~Math for the 21st Century students - Block E
  According to the students’ responses to an attitude survey and Answer Garden sentence prompt, “Words that describe my feelings about math are ….,” their experiences haven’t been positive ones. Refer to the results of the Answer Garden above.

Knowing how they felt about mathematics, I knew it was going to be difficult motivating them. There needed to be a “hook” - one that inspired them to have a genuine desire and purpose to learn mathematics.

This “hook” became the combination of their career choice and an authentic community career partner. In the September 14 blog, “Collaboration,” Daphne and Misti defined collaboration as “the situation of two or more people working together to create or achieve the same thing.” A career partner, a student’s career choice, and math standards came together to result in this beautiful thing, called “collaboration.” The collaboration between the community career partner and student will be the vehicle to reach a common goal of researching and solving problems for a common career interest.
Students practicing presentations before they
meet with their career partners. 
The components of the project consisted of:

  • Research and Creation: Students researched and created a presentation (form of their choice) to share with their assigned career partner.
  • Authentic Task and Collaboration: After students shared their presentation, the community career partners provided them with a mathematical task related to the career goals of the student and math standards.
  • Production and Reflection: A month later, students presented a business report to the career partners based on the assigned tasks.

The authentic audience, a student’s career choice, and a career-related task provides a reason to learn the math standards. As one student states, “Learning has a purpose,” and having a purpose naturally motivates and provides a reason for student learning, which is a win-win for everyone!

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