This winter break I took my dad shopping. He and I found ourselves in Best Buy in the middle of our trip with two computers in our hands. We ended up purchasing the same computer, a cheap Lenovo IdeaPad that came with Windows10 and 1 year free of Microsoft365 all for a whopping $149. What a steal.
Upon arriving home my dad and I both anxiously opened our new laptops to set them up. Until this point, everything was the same with my father and I. We both wanted a computer, we both had similar needs for the computer, and we both couldn't wait to open them. There was one difference after opening the boxes to our computer however...
My father immediately reached for the manual (of which there was none) and proclaimed he needed this:
...as he claimed he had never used Windows10 before and had to read up about it before he turned the computer on. I was a bit taken back (though I understood this is how many people live their lives) as I had already opened the computer, turned it on, and typed in my microsoft log in.
I tend to do everything my trial and error. Most of the time it works out for me and I have a better understanding of whatever I am using. I am the classis, "Oh... what does this button do?" in a new car girl. That's how I learned to code and how I taught myself math concepts in 5th grade when my glorious teacher placed the "advanced" kids in the loft to read the chapter and "figure it out." It definitely takes me longer to grasp a concept, but I not only had a greater appreciation for the tasks I had a better and deeper understanding of what I had to do (especially when something went wrong).
I sat there over winter break analyzing my dad's comment in relation to my teaching. My dad wanted the straightforward, easiest way, to work on his computer. Someone out there figured out Windows10 and would tell him how to best (most efficiently?) use it. They would show him the tricks and shortcuts right away so he wouldn't waste any time. That's definitely how my father operates.
I find it's how many of the students I teach come into my class. They are used to their teachers handing over the fastest method to getting an answer and then are asked to apply it. Many times the first few problems in the text are exactly like the method they have seen and then the rest have changed and the students are expected to apply "what they know" (read: what you have told them) to a novel problem. Here's the thing, I teach students with language based learning difficulties. They struggle as soon as the format of a problem changes because they are overworking their working memory just to remember the procedure you told them.
49 + 15 is not 49 to all of my students
The thing with shortcuts and tricks is that you are teaching children what may be the most efficient way of figuring out a problem. What we as teachers don't recognize is that it is not always the most efficient for every one of our students, nor is it efficient if a student does not UNDERSTAND it. My students often come to me confused because I spend the first few days removing myself from being an answer key to promoting #mathfights in order for the students to start reasoning themselves. Children look to teachers for validation in their answers because we have taught them to listen, do, hand in to be corrected, and then "reason" as to where they had a misstep in the problem.
As a result my students don't see the point in checking their work or even questioning their approach or answer.
They have told me on many occasions that their teachers before have told them it is important to check their work because they won't be able to tell them on tests whether it is correct. Seriously?
So I staged an intervention this year. As a regular class warm-up I have introduced the following tasks (I will break down how I use WODB and Math mistakes briefly below and link to other blogs that write about them):
1. Which One Doesn't Belong
2. Math Mistakes/My Favorite No (error analysis)
3. Agree or Disagree
4. Flip the question/Make the Mistakes
5. Visual Patterns
**sometimes Would You Rather
1. Which one doesn't belong
MS Math Department Head located in Massachusetts. I mainly work with LBDB students teaching them meaningful mathematical procedures through context. I also look to open students' eyes to the mathematical world around them