Search All of the Math Forum:
Views expressed in these public forums are not endorsed by
NCTM or The Math Forum.



student motivation
Posted:
Aug 8, 1995 11:52 AM


Who spoke of students who don't want to work? I have encountered a few of those, but much more often at upper el level, students can't get enough math!
Last spring I was asked to exchange classes with my team member so that I could clear up for the other class why the divisor gets inverted when we divide fractions. Students were not willing to go on until they understood and it took two of us to make the logic clear. I remember first hearing about this in high school. The textbook gave no clue. My partner knew why but was having trouble bringing the explanation to elementary level understanding. But the kids didn't give up until they "got it". They are used to journaling and writing explanations as evaluations that will be placed in their portfolios and so have a need to know as well as healthy curiosity!
The textbook is the last thing we use to teach math. When I do use it often it is as a blitze review and practice activity. Students are allowed to go at their own speed, doing as many or as few problems as they feel they need to do to be proficient in the skills presented. They may even skim the chapter and take the end of chapter test right away and move on to individualized activities if they pass. Yes, this much individualization with 24 students. Students work next to a buddy and get some questions answered that way. Two sided, red/green circles on every desk show me who may be stuck and need my one on one help. I carry a stamp with me and do the problems mentally as students move on from section to section, stamping a "well done" as needed...no correcting after school...instant feedback. Anecdotal notes go in portfolios on Postits I have written as I move around during the class. Seldom does a student fail to do enough practice...the opposite may be true...a student may want to do all the practice just because it is fun! Mental techniques and abbreviated notations are fine...remember this is a review.
Math time is exciting, rewarding, immersing, and, yes, tiringone student said, "My brain is too tired for recess!" ...with a giant grin! Kids love a good challenge, a puzzle, a problem to solve to satisfy curiosity and do some brain aerobics! Tonna Kershul



