Making Math More Fun | Teaching Ideas

April 25, 2014
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April is Mathematics Awareness Month (MAM) and we've been curious to know how it’s being observed in your classrooms! The goal of MAM is to increase public awareness of the importance and application of Mathematics.

Each year has a different theme. This year’s theme is Mathematics, Magic and Mystery and each day in the month of April, the official MAM website reveals a new magical and mysterious mathematical phenomenon through a video presentation, and provides resources to help in understanding the mathematics behind it.

So whether you choose to strictly adhere to this month’s theme or not, raising awareness about the importance of Mathematics is the point of this holiday as demonstrated by Math teacher, Wade Lavigne who submitted an activity idea that can be used in engaging students in a month long celebration of Mathematics.

Here is Wade’s activity submission:

I have been using to bring math problems to life for my students. I send all 130 students a POD ( Problem of the day) via email and I usually get some pretty creative responses. I reply to every email received and offer appropriate feedback.  The response is incredible and students are starting to write about their thinking.

The image below is one of Wade's POD:

k-12 mathematics awareness month activity idea
Here's a 4/4 point answer submitted by a student:
Marc: If  I started with 100 viewers and added 1000 viewers in year 1 I would have to have 1100 viewers, right?
Now if I have 10 times as many in year 2 I would add 10x1100 or 11000 viewers, do you follow me? So at the end of year 2,  I would have the 1100 from year 1 added to the 11000 from year 2 to get a total of 12100 viewers in all...
Mr Lavigne: Not an easy one to figure out..  Thanks Marc!


Here is Wade's thinking behind his approach:

I was moved by the idea that we all need the stimulus to learn something new each and every day. By developing a POD (MATH PROBLEM OF THE DAY) I have been able to create a dialog with hard to reach students. The comic strip site Bitstrips enabled me to personalize tricky math problems. Sometimes I translate state testing open response questions into a Bitstrip problem, or I simply make one up. These problems are aligned with the Common Core Standards for the grades I teach ( Middle School – Grades 7 & 8). Most importantly I get an opportunity to personalize my feedback for each and every student who submits a solution to my  POD. 

That dialog allows me to guide students to write about their mathematical thinking . The words- show your work- are mundane and create a level of resistance with students; instead I ask students to share their thoughts about the problem. Same idea, just a different approach – and it works. I am hopeful that my students will do an exceptional job at answering open response questions and earn 4/4 points on most of the questions. I expect to see a sizeable increase in the “advanced”  level results. It is gratifying to see a student progress from “Needs Improvement" to "Advanced" in a single school year . Daily practice coupled with immediate feedback from a teacher is my plan for my student’s success. 

A special thanks to Wade Lavigne for submitting this Bitstrips Math activity idea.

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