Sunday, October 24, 2010

My Life as a Mathematician

My friends will NEVER let me live this down but somehow I missed this week's challenge in my list of fall blog challenge topics and wrote about next week's topic instead. I have given the math teachers such a hard time all these years that they are going to swear that I skipped the math post on purpose! We have had an on-going debate among Math and Reading teachers over the years about which subject is the most difficult to teach and which is the most important. Obviously, I'm on the RIGHT side - with Reading being much more complex and difficult to teach and certainly more important than Math! With all that said, I am back to teaching first grade math for the first time in many, many years so I am probably going to have to eat my words about which subject is the most difficult to teach!

There is no question that math is an important part of my day from balancing my checkbook to figuring out how to convert a recipe to appropriate Weight Watcher measurements to figuring out how many days until my niece's wedding. And of course, teaching is run on data these days so there is hardly ever a day when I'm not trying to interpret some sort of assessment information! I guess I am fortunate that Math has always come very easy for me. I grew up in a Southern county that had an excellent math prep program and I actually tested out of all Math in college. It will surprise most of my friends to know that I actually started my freshman year of college as a math major! However, it didn't last long.   I had especially loved Algebra in middle school when I first started advanced Math. It came really easy and I loved my teacher. I actually went back to teach in that same middle school many years later and taught in the classroom beside her! She was as outstanding then as she had been when I was a student.

I'm not sure that any of that prepared me to be a Math teacher. As I have begun to teach an inquiry-based Math program, I have felt as unsettled as some of my students. The disequilibrium is real.  I have really had to dig to remember the HOW I know something works. I just know the answer but I don't always know how I know. It's a lot like reading comprehension. You know the answer because you have learned to use strategies automatically. It took a while for me to break through HOW I knew the answer and to identify the strategies and proof when I first starting taking reading comprehension apart. I think it will work that same way with Math. I know the answer automatically, but I will have to really search for the strategies and proof of how I got the answer. I am thinking that it may take as much creativity and depth of research in Math as it has in Reading! In fact, I have decided to use this year as I journey through the Math curriculum to write about math for the first time. I've always used this blog to document literacy but today's blog will begin my journey with Math! I'll still write about Literacy, of course, but I will begin to include Math instruction as it is rolled our in our first grade classrooms... Stay tuned!

1 comment:

Mrs. Patricia Wallace said...

You're right... I find it very hard to believe that you started out as a math major. I do agree thought that you do know your math (evident during data crunching time) and not always able to clearly explain how you knew your answer (again based on my personal experience with PDP meeting).

I've always enjoyed reading your blog and I'm definitely looking forward to reading some posts in regards to math.

Looking forward to see your perspective on the new math curriculum.

- Patricia