Monday, March 23, 2020
Math Instruction is Multi-dimensional
When you program a computer, you tell it exactly what to do. If it is programmed correctly, it follows the instructions perfectly and gets answers quickly and accurately. When it is done, it has no idea what it did, why it did it, or what the answers mean. Students are not computers; therefore, they should not be programed. They should be taught. Teaching involves more than the memorization of facts and formulas. True teaching requires that students understand the reasons for the process, what the answers mean, why they’re important, and what they enable the students to do. Getting the right answer is the beginning, not the end. Learning is an exercise in individuality. Students learn at different speeds and have different levels of comprehension. The student who learns the fastest is not always the student who learns the best. A good teacher realizes the importance of individualizing instruction and the value of reaching out to the student who puts forth his/her best effort but doesn’t pick up a concept as fast as some of the others, while continuing to challenging those who master concepts quickly. Finding out where a student is on the ladder of knowledge and giving assignments that take him/her forward from there should be a priority. The green zone can be used to define learning that is challenging but doable. The black zone can be defined as containing concepts which are already mastered. Working in the black zone is usually not a good use of time. The red zone defines that work which is beyond the student’s ability. Working in the red zone feels like banging your head against the wall. Consistent focused effort in the green zone is how we learn and progress best. In the long run, a student who has to work harder to learn a concept will come out ahead of someone who learns quickly and forgets quickly. A comfortable and enjoyable atmosphere in the classroom is important to effective learning. The students will reflect the attitude of the teacher. If the teacher enjoys the subject and feels that it is important, then the students are more likely to enjoy the subject and feel that it is important. Students should be encouraged to ask pertinent questions and be complimented for doing so. Students’ questions are not an interruption of a teacher’s presentation, but an essential part of the two-way communication that must take place as students learn. If a student asks a question that has already been answered, and the teacher takes the time to go over the answer again, positively and patiently, it sends the message that student understanding is important, and that even intelligent people don’t always pick up on everything the first time. See it, hear it, write it down, and then ask questions until you understand. The best way for students to assimilate knowledge is through a variety of mental stimuli. Seeing, hearing and writing are all different paths to the brain. In the math department at Sorenson’s Ranch School, we use a variety of mediums on math instruction in an effort to engage multiple learning pathways. Students who are taught using all three paths will experience better comprehension and retention than those taught through only one.