6 ways to embrace the messiness of math education

Math is not easy to teach or learn. So, teachers use a variety of strategies to boost their students’ numeracy skills as they progress through math education.

But some of those approaches could be unproductive, contended Dr. Juli Dixon, Professor of Mathematics Education at the University of Central Florida, in a recent edWebinar sponsored by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Mathematics. She described standard practices that can derail rather than support mathematical reasoning, and offered alternative methods that would benefit students far more.

Embracing the messiness of math education

The beauty of math, emphasized Dr. Dixon, is that it calls for critical thinking, making mistakes, problem solving, peer discussion, all part of the discovery process. But teachers often rely on methods that do not effectively drive students’ math education in this capacity. Dr. Dixon shared six recognized methods that may work in other content areas but fall short in the math classroom.

The six math education practices to reconsider

1. Conceptual lessons

Posting learning objectives and goals or essential questions at the start of a lesson is standard. While designed to let students know what they are supposed to accomplish, such “goalposts” tend to send a message of disengagement instead, noted Dr. Dixon.

About the Author:

Michele Israel writes about the ideas and best practices that are shared in edWeb’s edWebinars and so they can spread innovative and best practices to the education community. Michele owns Michele Israel Consulting, LLC, which serves large and small educational, nonprofit, media, corporate, eLearning, and blended-learning organizations to bolster products and programs. Her rich career spans over 25 years of successfully developing educational materials and resources, designing and facilitating training, generating communication materials and grant proposals, and assisting in organizational and program development. In addition to lesson plans and other teacher resources, Michele’s portfolio includes published articles covering a range of educational and business topics.

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