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My student’s don’t get it! Literacy in the Mathematics Department
The Perfect Lesson • I write the notes on the board for the students to copy into their notes book • I talk to the notes written on the board • I set the students to complete the exercise in the textbook • Students complete the exercise with no problems because they have all listened and understood • Job done – EASY
What Really Happened? For the students: • Some of the students put their hands up needing individual instructions to get started • A few just sit there looking dazed • Most of students came to a stop at some point because they hit a question that was written slightly different to my examples in the notes
What Really Happened? For the teacher: • I spend the lesson running around individually instructing students on what they are suppose to be doing • I spend the lesson running around answering the same question over and over • Is there a better way?
Who’s Doing the Work? In mathematics we “rely on teacher demonstrations rather than textbook explanations. Unfortunately this limits the (student’s) ability to read math and expand their knowledge” of different types of text (Mower, 2003)
Word Problems Students in the study felt that teachers focussed on skills, with word problems being seen more often in assessments than in the classroom (Anne Lawrence and Marc Paterson) So what changes do we need to make to our practice as 21st century mathematics teachers?
What do we want our student’s to do? • To move from being dependent learners to becoming independent learners • We want them to approach mathematical texts (and therefore exam questions) with confidence • Learn a range of strategies so they can make meaning from any text independently of the teacher
What does this look like in my class? • Skill presented within a real world context • Student’s make their own notes and share with the class • Student’s identify challenging questions before starting the exercise (skimming and scanning) • Class discussions about how they may approach these questions • Extension through students finding or writing real world questions that use that skill
Ken’s Ideas • Understanding is dependent on giving students time to think • More than one set of maths books to research • Make explicit the conversion of worded problems into mathematical symbols • Co-constructing the understanding • Challenge the teacher to who is in control of the class and work