We’re studying quadratics in my 8th grade class. Even the name can strike fear in the heart of the most competent adult. I didn’t want it to be that way for my math kids. I wrote a good lesson plan and then I let students help me modify it. Essentially, they “taught” me how to teach them better through the interaction and feedback we gave to each other during the learning process. We built the scaffold together.
I wasnâ€™t sure, when I first heard about the Common Core standards, if the CCSS approach would support my inquiry-driven, communication-heavy, student-voice kind of classroom culture. But the more Iâ€™ve delved into it, the more Iâ€™ve seen that the practices and overarching standards align quite well.
I’ve been thinking, experimenting and testing out ideas about how to move math instruction forward in my classroom, using technology and Problem-Based Learning as much as I can. It’s a daunting task even if I’ve done it before in science. We aren’t all the way to PBL yet. But I think a recent inquiry activity we did is foundational — it begins to shift responsibility for learning onto the students’ shoulders.
Short of banning smartphones (a short-term solution, at best), I think the evolution of AI services like Siri means that the problems I pose for my 8th grade math students will have to shift from a focus on finding the answer as the endpoint — to a greater focus on analysis. OK, you have the answer but so what? What does that answer mean in a real-life situation?
And I wonder how teachers in other content areas might have to rethink their teaching and assessment strategies, with Siri at our studentsâ€™ beck and call?
Done well, social media and technology integrated into the classroom feels like a familiar old leather softball glove. It becomes an extension of your hand and you almost forget that it’s there. Done badly, it’s a waste of time and the return on your investment is nil.