I’ve been reading a book called The Teaching Gap by James W. Stigler and James Hiebert, and I must say I was pleasantly surprised. I’ve actually been pleasantly surprised with a few of my required texts this semester, and I’ve found I truly am learning a lot from them and actually enjoying the readings. This book in particular has been comparing and contrasting U.S., German, and Japanese math lessons. The findings are extremely…interesting. Granted, this book was written over a decade ago,but it is really giving me great insight into what types of lessons allow students to actually learn. Or as we math educators like to say, do math.
One thing I have learned this semester, and that this book encourages as well, is the importance of making connections between lessons. I think so often this is where unneeded confusion in the classroom comes from, and almost always this could be easily avoided by the teacher. When students aren’t able to understand how each lesson fits together, all they have is scattered information from multiple different days that they’re trying to keep straight rather than being able to see the bigger picture and how it all fits together. As educators, it is our job to not only allow the students to make these connections but to explicitly point them out to them. I tried to focus on that this week while I was teaching, and I think it went pretty well. At first, I think the students were a little annoyed with how many questions I kept asking them, but they’re getting used to it now. Today, we were learning about regular and irregular polygons and we had just finished a lesson last week on triangles. I asked the students if they could tell me what type of triangle would be a regular polygon. Right away a few hands shot up and I got the answer I wanted; an equilateral. Knowing the students could still recall the classifications of triangles and connect it to the idea of a regular polygon was reassuring, and it felt really good to use a question I had thought about before my lesson and have it go over well. This will continue to be something I work on, as I feel it is one of the most important aspects of teaching mathematics.
Oh yeah, and I received this lovely green apple at the GVSU Green Apple Ceremony welcoming me to the College of Education. Much to our dismay, it was not edible.
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”