Looking at the Big Picture

As this semester quickly comes to an end, it is time for reflections, exams, projects, and an overwhelming list of things to do. Looking back, this has been my favorite semester so far. Instead of feeling burned out and exhausted like past semesters, I am shocked how quickly this semester passed. I have taken all education courses, and I have learned more than any other year. When I think about why, it is simply because I have a passion for what I am learning. Passion is a driving force and makes all the difference when it comes to learning. Each class that I leave with a new teaching method and consider what kind of teacher I want to be, I am honestly encouraged. One word to describe this semester would be encouraging.

Every week I tutor in a second grade classroom at West Kelloggsville Elementary School. I have had the opportunity to assist them with their math lessons. The classroom teacher often falls into the typical instruction of algorithms without encouraging number sense and understanding. Connecting my experiences there and with what I have learned in MTH 223 has really enhanced my perception on how to teach mathematics. Understanding and number sense is SO important, yet it is rarely the focus in math. I want to change that. I want to be the kind of teacher that puts understanding first. Students should be able to see the importance of what they are learning instead of counting down the hours until they go home.

This course has made me re-evaluate teaching and see the impact of looking deeper into mathematical concepts. Even the concepts that we consider simple and elementary level contains patterns and characteristics that we never evaluated as a child. An example would be double-digit subtraction. If a student asked me exactly why do we borrow, would I be able to give them a complete answer? When I think about it, I was never taught why and I honestly never questioned it. Math is so full of “just do it” and any questions are often answered with “because you just do.” How can you teach children to do it without fully understanding it yourself? This class has made me explore concepts deeper so that I can answer those difficult questions.

The deep thinking and math activities from this course have been useful while I am tutoring. I am able to connect ideas in a way that I never would have been able to do without everything I have learned. I never realized how complex teaching mathematics is and just how much thought it required to teach it well. I want students to develop a passion for not only math but learning. I hope that I can take all of this new knowledge to teach successfully and intentionally. I am thankful for the opportunity to take such an eye-opening class.  I have never taken a class that has left me so informed, hopeful, excited, and absolutely encouraged.

Thank you Professor Golden!

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Teaching Three-Dimensional

This semester, we have spent a great deal of time talking about methods to teach geometry. We mainly worked with two-dimensional shapes and it has made me think of more effective ways to teach three-dimensional shapes. In my own elementary experience, I remember being handed various objects and associating them with the shapes I had known all along: square, rectangle, triangle, etc. I find it very interesting that when we search around the classroom for examples of shapes, we often refer to them as if they are two-dimensional. I recall looking at objects like a basketball and concluding that it is a circle. As a class we talked about situations where teachers only present shapes such as triangles in one format and becoming unrecognizable when it is rotated. So, why does it seem common to call three-dimensional objects the names of two-dimensional shapes?

I found two particularly interesting activities on Nrich.maths.org. One provides students with an opportunity to observe properties of different 3D shapes. Students are given various blocks and after the chance to play and observe, they can be asked questions like, which of these towers will collapse?

 

I predict that it would be great as a teacher to witness how students come to conclusions about each shape. I also think that it would be worthwhile to come together as a class to share characteristics that they noticed. I have noticed in my classroom experience so far that 3D shapes almost seem overlooked. Three-dimensional shapes can be incorporated into measurement so that students can determine the differences between 2D and 3D. Volume and surface area are vastly different calculations that area and perimeter. I believe that it is important for lower elementary teachers to set students up for success by providing with more experiences with three-dimensional shapes.

The second activity that I found on Nrich related two-dimensional and three-dimensional object by using shadows. Students are presented with a square, circle, triangle, and rectangle. They are asked what objects on a playground would form that shadow.

I find the relationship between two-dimension and three-dimension fairly interesting. I would consider myself a visual learner and making connections to tangible objects is important to my ability to learn math. I believe that more time spent working with three-dimensional objects would give students a better understanding of volume vs. area.