Chapter 6 Summary
Ways to Use this New Knowledge to Support Our Students in the Classroom
- Offer access of high-level mathematics to all students. For example, I used menu math as filler work for my students, meaning that when they completed their work, they would “fill” their time with a menu task. I purposefully created menu tasks that were challenging and would take some time to complete. I included a variety of entry points so that all students had the option to complete the tasks on a level that was appropriate for their own abilities. See an example here and read more about how to create menus here.
- Help students develop a growth mindset about mathematics to change the “status quo” about who is able to be successful mathematicians. Pinterest is full of ideas! Check out my Growth Mindsets board here.
- Offer opportunities for students to “think deeply about mathematics” using hands-on learning experiences, real-life applications, project-based curriculum, and cooperative learning activities instead of solely focusing on procedural mathematics.
- Employ cooperative learning structures. Allowing students to work together allows them to make connections and see mathematics in a way that they may not have seen it if they worked alone. Encouraging students to give positive feedback during this time is a way to increase the success of the collaboration.
- Provide opportunities for girls and students of color to learn more math and science. One of the ways that I have been able to do this is through the use of robotics. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to attend a summer program at The University of Texas at Austin where I learned how to program and build with the robotic Lego parts. In turn, I was able to, with the help of an assigned robotics mentor, teach my students how to program and build. Through these activities, I made connections to science and language arts by having students build representations of inventions that would either help society deal with an environmental issue or help a character in a book solve problems. For example, we read Dear Mr. Henshaw one school year and my students were tasked with creating a contraption that Leigh, the main character, could use to stop the classroom thief from stealing his lunch. We also did fun stuff too, like making carnival rides and golf holes. My girls loved robotics just as much as, and even more so sometimes, than the boys. See some of my students’ work in the pictures below.
- Modify the way homework is assigned. Many students do not have access to technology or parents to support them with homework at home, so completing homework can be stressful. One way that I have tried to eliminate this issue is to assign homework that is a review of material previously taught. This way, students feel more comfortable completing the homework without resources at home. In addition, I like to assign homework on Friday or Monday to be due on the next Friday so that students have an entire week to complete the work on their own schedule and come-in for tutorials with me if needed. My philosophy is that homework is for practice and it’s unfair to assign practice for a skill students just learned.
Our students need mathematics to successful graduate from high school and most college degree programs. We, as teachers, need to do our best to eliminate the barriers and mindsets that deny access to many of our students so that they can find and experience success.
- Boaler, J. (2016). Mathematical Mindsets. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass