Q&A #1599

Dr. Math as an educative tool in an elementary class

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From: Suzanne A. (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: May 31, 1999 at 20:53:04
Subject: Re: Dr. Math as an educative tool in an elementary class

Roya's response suggesting that you use the Dr. Math Archives is a good one and I thought, perhaps, you might benefit from hearing how a middle school teacher uses the Archives! I teach 7th grade in a schoolwide Title I middle school in Southern California. The average reading level of my students is 4th grade. I share this information just to give you a feeling for the skills that my students have in relation to dealing with information presented in a textual format. Last year I started using selected Dr. Math questions/answers to introduce a topic or to reinforce a topic. Much to my surprise, my students would spend time pouring over the letters. The only reason I can come up with is that since the letters were written by students they have a natural appeal. The Dr. Math answers are so good because they use an inquiry method of response and it leads the student or reader through the thought processes necessary to attack the problem. Sometimes, I would use it at the beginning of a unit as a way to introduce vocabulary. I always ask my students to take notes as they read the collection that I point them to. At other times, I might start the unit with a different activity but use the questions/answers as a reinforcement of the concepts. And then, sometimes, I might have my students look at the questions/answers at the beginning of the unit and then again later in the unit because they can always learn more as they re-read them. Some of the students get really into it and read aloud to themselves or to their partners (When I use the lab there are 20 computers and I have 30-35 students in each class, so, some of them work with a partner.) What I did not have were any students off task! This year I expanded my use of the information available in the archives. I have also written a few web pages that I use with my students. http://mathforum.org/workshops/sum2000/link/ms.number2.html http://mathforum.org/workshops/sum2000/link/ms.stat2.html http://mathforum.org/workshops/sum2000/link/ms.area2.html http://mathforum.org/workshops/sum2000/link/ms.prob2.html http://mathforum.org/workshops/sum2000/link/ms.speed2.html http://mathforum.org/workshops/sum2000/link/elem.fraction2.html http://mathforum.org/workshops/sum2000/link/elem.mult2.html I have used these "live" on the Web but also at the beginning of this year while some wiring was being done, I used a "simulation" version of these pages. Because the computers at the time did not have Internet access, I put the pages on disk and my students opened them through Netscape. It worked great! I realize that not all teachers have the time or inclination to write web pages like this, but you could use the same idea and just create a folder of bookmarked question/answers and the same effect could be created. One more idea that I can share is to have students roam through the Dr. Math FAQs, the Classic Problems, and Selected Answers. http://mathforum.org/dr.math/faq/ http://mathforum.org/dr.math/faq/faq.classic.problems.html http://mathforum.org/library/drmath/sets/select/ These areas are SO rich in information. I know that some of the topics are advanced for elementary students (and middle school students, too) but I think that there are some students who could really benefit from these areas. If you have one Internet-accessible computer in your room you could point students to this area of Dr. Math and ask them to find one topic that they could then present to the class! There is just so much mathematics in these pages - it can be stimulating. -Suzanne A., for the Teacher2Teacher service

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