Saturday, October 24, 2015

My Comfort Quote

I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in that I have a quote that I come back to once in a while that helps keep me going and reminds me of why I am doing what I am doing in my classroom.

My quote came from an article written by Ann Kajander in the September 2005 OAME Gazette. Ann is an associate professor in the department of undergraduate studies in education and the recipient of 2014 Margaret Sinclair Memorial Award. I highly recommend her regular feature in the Gazette: Mb4T: Mathematics by and for Teachers.

The article was entitled "Supports for the Effective Implementation of The Revised Grade 9/10 Curriculum: The Role of Manipulatives in Making Algebra Meaningful".

September 2005 OAME Gazette
The sentences that hit me squarely between the eyes were:

"Put bluntly, learning based purely on procedural methods has little meaning or long term retention for most students, and does not facilitate the depth of understanding needed to use math for any worthwhile endeavor outside (or inside) of school. Even more bluntly, its boring, demeaning, and encourages the all-too-prevalent perception that mathematics is difficult, useless and unintelligible."

Sometimes it isn't a quote itself that makes the impact although it plays a big part. Sometimes you have to be ready for the message. I guess the quote hit me at the right time and the right place. I had been struggling for a while in my teaching and recall relating to a colleague that was teaching Grade 10 Applied math with me that I was bored out of my mind. And if I was bored out of my mind I couldn't imagine how the students felt! That feeling coupled with what I read in the article was the catalyst that changed everything for me in my teaching. We redesigned the course with the idea that a good task was key to bringing the math out and would lead to that deep understanding. 

I can clearly remember playing the game of frogs to introduce quadratic relations and having the vice-principal walk in while students were jumping around the room. Or building tetrahedral pyramids that outgrew what our classroom could contain. All of the work we did to redesign the grade 10 course made us want to share the learning and so we presented at OAME in 2006. Our workshop title was Grade 10 Applied: The New Frontier. And on the last slide of our slide deck was what all good workshops should end with...a quote. Guess which one appeared on our last slide?

I would love to hear what quotes have inspired you in your own teaching. Feel free to leave them in the comments section. Thanks!

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