“I like this math better than real math!”

Fake Math vs. Real Life

“I like this math better than real math” was exclaimed by my grade eight student on Friday while we were playing Trust No One on Gimkit. Gimkit is a live, gameshow style learning that requires students to solve basic math problems in order to reach a common goal. Gimkit is an excellent way to see what students need more help with the math concepts taught that week and who understands what was taught. So why does my student consider learning in such a way “fake math”? I asked her and her response was interesting. To summarize, my student mentions how real math has to be with pencil and paper, must be boring and has to be done quietly. This is the exact opposite of the way that I like to teach math. It is interesting to hear the different perceptions of math from each student. After my student said this, I asked the class to explain the math concepts we were exploring in that Gimkit live show. My students then answered: solving for the greatest common factor, finding square roots, etc. I then explained to my student that all of that math is “real”.

My math program changes each year as I learn from different teachers such as the ones that presented last year at the OAME conference (more information can be found about that conference here: OAME) I like to integrate different ways of learning whether it be with whiteboards (non-permanent surfaces), manipulative based problems, problem of the week, asking the students which one doesn’t belong (WODB), solving patterns, estimating with a daily prompt (Estimation180) or my favourite, playing a math game that makes students think they aren’t even doing math. This was evident last Friday as my student thought we weren’t even doing real math.

I love hearing about all the different approaches to a math program. With the updated math curriculum in its second year, it is especially interesting to take a look at the different approaches to the financial literacy and coding programs. I am still getting used to the new curriculum but I love the easy online format that is available online: Math Curriculum I have printed this out and I look at what expectations work well together. I work with my grade team partners to take about what strands we report on each term. Ideally, I would love to try a fully spiralled math program but I am not 100% comfortable with this approach yet and am interested in learning more.

Challenges in Math Today

Today I struggled with a student who did not want to try the zeros principle when adding integers because she already knows how to add integers. I asked her a few times to try it out on her whiteboard and eventually, she did it. She asked me why she had to try this strategy if she already knew how to add integers. I told her that I teach many strategies so that students can pick their favourite. However, this student had already developed her own strategy, so did I just confuse her by adding another one to her toolkit? Should I have let her answer the question using the way she already knows? So many things to think about and at the time, I did not know the answer. How would you handle that situation? I love hearing many different ways that teachers approach math strategies and how to work with students who do not want to learn new ones.

With a split class this year, I am fortunate enough to tackle each lesson as a review for the eights and at the same time it being new content for the sevens. This allows for student teachers and a great review for the eights as last year was often interrupted by closures of classes and ultimately, the board. I am excited to teach the eights their new curriculum while inviting the sevens to try it out. At first, I viewed math in a split class as a challenge but now I just see it as an exciting opportunity to challenge students to be teachers and leaders. I look forward to continue blogging at my math program as the year continues. Next time you have the opportunity, ask your students if they consider any math task at any given time “fake or real”… a perception that I loved hearing last Friday!

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Updated: October 20, 2021 — 11:56 am

The Author

Kelly.McLaughlin

I am a permanent teacher in the HWDSB, currently teaching grade seven and eight. This is my eighth year teaching! I am thrilled to be back in the classroom and look forward to sharing my experiences.

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