Day 177 (of 184) Confession about Recreational Mathematics
I am not a math-guy.
I am one of the people who love the quizzes (on Facebook et al) that sees “how many of the ‘best’ 100 books in the last 100 years” you have read and scores very high…
But it was my work in math that allowed me to first get a “feel” for descriptive feedback. That’s right – the subject that is most closely connected to “add ‘me up and divide to get a final %” was where I made my best growth into descriptive feedback instead of check marks and other symbols.
And over the years I’ve been whining about math. But with a twist: I point out that “we” (specifically elementary educators) are very good at separating out Language Arts into key components: reading writing & oral language. We are also good at differentiating those subjects. Heck – we tend to do a good job differentiating in all subject areas (I sense that you expect a conjunction so…) however “we” also tend to see math as very linear and lock-step in its approach.
Numeracy historically has seen its rewards and punishments be the same thing: do more of the same. My son (admittedly with general anxiety but some interesting math assessment scores) flat out refused/s to do ‘repeated problems’ – skipping over ‘worksheets’ and completing single versions of the problems being asked. It tends to ‘have to be done’ and is tricky to integrate in the same way that language arts has been (unless you bring statistics into socials or patterns into science, but here I digress).
Recreational Mathematics came to me via a throw away line in a Dr Who episode I watched last summer, and a clip can be seen here: https://technolandy.wordpress.com/recreational-mathematics/
It really got me thinking about enjoying math.
So, we focused on math strategies including problem solving (lots of riddles) patterns (great videos from math geniuses of all ages that got us exploring) and time. Not analog clocks: time. Teaching two days a week, I tried to frequently ask a question on Wednesday and then discuss how answers could be arrived at (yep, math strategies enable many more than ‘one’ way to get a right answer) and how they can be communicated beyond just using 9 digits and zero.
Ongoing debate/discussion: is zero a number?
I’ve been asked when I tweet out our class question(s) how the course was developed. And here is what I am comfortable admitting: it is a living course. What I plan for Wednesday may be bumped. Frequently a new idea will come to me that connects to something else we are studying (ie clocks, time zones and World Cup country exploration – had BC not stopped due to a strike – we already spent a SOLE looking at calendars) – you know, an integrated theme. Crazy numeracy.
I am proud that my math-phobics don’t cringe about math (whether it is me or my amazing partner-teacher guiding lessons) and that they even occasionally pick something they did with numeracy skills as a ‘monthly favourite’ – though when quizzed they argue “it’s not math”. Couldn’t agree more – numeracy is so much more than equations!
I’m now archiving the links (and blogs) connected to Rec Math on my blog site:
and loving to think more and more on how to get things even ‘better’ for next year!