
Re: Invitation to contribute to book for beginning teachers
Posted:
Jul 10, 2013 2:55 AM


On Jul 9, 2013, at 11:10 AM, Richard Strausz <Richard.Strausz@farmington.k12.mi.us> wrote:
> I recommend that beginning math teachers find some teacher blogs to follow and participate with. > > Here is an algebrarelated post to check out with links to a number of others: > > http://blog.mrmeyer.com/?p=17391 > > Richard >
I think you mean dejected math teachers, not beginning math teachers.
For example, the post you referenced is just another example of Dan taking an algebra problem from a textbook, removing the algebra, having the students apply arithmetic, and never returning to the algebra.
The original problem gave two real world scenarios that can be modeled with linear equations and then asked the student to...
1. Model the two scenarios with linear equations. 2. Graph them. 3. Solve them (as a system of equations). 4. Identify the solution with the graph. 5. Explain what all of this means.
This is algebra and it involves translating quantitive situations into mathematical (symbolic) expressions and manipulating those expressions as a means to an end. In this case, the big idea is the ability to see that while a single expression is insufficient information for a solution, multiple expressions is. The second big idea is the algebraic sense to see why this is true through manipulation and substitution.
Instead, as he always does, Dan removes ALL of that algebra and replaces it with an exercise involving guessing and arithmetic. He calls this "lowering the floor on the task". But what task is he lowering the floor on? The task of determining which cable company is the cheapest? Hardly, and besides, any real teacher can see that this wasn't even the point or the task of this exercise. Dan is lowering the floor on HIS task. Dan is lowering the floor on the task of teaching algebra to his students. The main gist of his argument for doing so is that students are simply too stupid and too uninterested to understand algebraic reasoning or its purpose. And judging from his own poor understanding of the art, he shares their angst.
Is this really what you want to tell a beginning math teacher?
I would think a teacher would have to have several years of experience getting the short straw and teaching the hardest groups of students before they get this dejected about teaching algebra.
Bob Hansen

