2007 Dow Excellence in Education Award
6th Grade Math Teacher
Northridge Middle School
What are the keys to your success as a math teacher?
I think the keys to success are first and foremost a positive attitude. Secondly, I try very hard to show examples several different ways so that hopefully one of those ways will click with the students. Also, students today are technology driven. Therefore, finding technology and websites to help enhance their learning is exactly what drives the students to want to learn more. I also think patience pays a big part in it… it would be easy to pull out my hair the 5th time a student calls an equilateral triangle an isosceles triangle… but persistence pays off and eventually they will get that "equal" part at the beginning clues them into equal sides!!
What obstacles have you had to overcome teaching math?
This year I am in a new grade level so that is definitely an obstacle. However, I find that fewer and fewer students have the basics down in Math which makes it so much more difficult to move on to more abstract topics. Another obstacle I hear a lot is, "My mom isn't good at math either." So, it seems like it's been drilled in them that if their parent wasn't successful it's unlikely they would be either. Many students seem to have a math phobia of sorts which needs to be addressed (but learning the basics might help overcome this phobia!)
Do you have a routine that you follow?
I have a Warm-Up problem on the board each day as they arrive that reviews the previous days lesson. They solve this in their Math Journal and then we go over it together. I also devote ½ of Friday's class to review from the week (or intervention) and the other ½ of class working on ixl.com which we have a site license.
Is there a favorite unit or project that you teach?
I was moved this year (2012-13) to the middle school, so I am teaching new topics than I had previously taught. My favorite topic to teach is Geometry. I taught 4th grade prior to this and we spent a lot of time on classifying and measuring shapes. I liked this because it was very hands on and concrete for the students. I had a lot of matching games and SMARTboard activities that went along with the unit and students really love using technology.
What kind of technology do you use in your classes?
PC, Mimio, student Responder System with 2Know Math software, and Class laptop set. Mimio and PC on daily basis, laptops usually on Fridays and SRS about 2x per week.
If you had the power, how would you change the way math is taught at school
I would change to longer class times so that more hands-on activities could be done and so more time could be spent on independent practice. I feel like I have to rush a lot. I also would like to be able to spend more time on certain topics rather than having to hurry through to cover everything by the test in the spring.