Teach Middle East Magazine Jan-Feb 2018 Issue 3 Volume 5 - Page 18

Sharing Good Practice HOW DO WE INSTILL AN IDEA OF RISK TAKING AND STRUGGLE WITH MATHS? BY MAARIT ROSSI N owadays I often hear that students can hardly concentrate more than 15 minutes! There are so many interesting things happening outside the school, is it that students are unable to concentrate or is it that they are choosing to concentrate on things outside of the formal learning environment? We talk about informal learning and how it has a big role in student’s life. We need to harness the power of informal learning so that it compliments formal learning. In PISA (2016), students were asked about the frequency with which their teachers use student-oriented or teacher-directed strategies in their lessons. Findings indicate that today, teacher-directed practices are used widely. Formal and Informal learning How do we do a better job of encouraging students’ failures rather than using their mistakes against them? The math lesson at school needs to be a very safe place to make mistakes. At best, mistakes can lead to very meaningful discussions about different ways of thinking and the students learn to listen to each other. It’s a good experience to see that by making mistakes, you sometimes learn even more than just using the traditional ways of working. If the mistakes are dealt with in constructive ways, they can strengthen and encourage the students to try new approaches. PISA (2016) showed that the students’ positive attitude towards mathematics and the trust in their own capability, is connected with their ability to solve problems. Formal learning is the learning happening in the school. In many instances the way this learning takes place has not changed in decades. The students still sit in rows, paying attention to the one teacher at the front of the room, who is trying to deliver the content, one lesson at a time. Yes, the structure of a math lesson seems to be very fixed and similar all over the world. In a mathematics classroom, too many concepts are taught by telling and writing the rules and formulas. Who talks in the classroom? How many questions do students ask in a lesson? Some research says that zero- point-two. Further to this, most of the questions seem to be answered in less than one second. Most being yes-no answers. Teachers may talk for 90% of the lesson! 16 | Jan - Feb 2018 | | It seems that we still have a lot to do, so that students learn to notice that success can be achieved by everyone. Classroom needs to be a safe place to make mistakes Class Time Embracing uncertainty in the mathematics classroom We need to change a lot of the methods used in the teaching of mathematics. With any change comes uncertainty, and so the teacher and the students need to be comfortable in taking risks. The regular scenarios of the teacher being in front of the classroom, showing how to work with the new concept and students repeating similar ones in similar ways, is outdated and should be changed. What if students are active and are given the opportunity to test their ideas and make mistakes, as part of the learning process. Think of the possibilities. From one answer to many answers It is important to go through different solutions to the problems. Students see that there can be more than one way to solve a problem. It is also important to show problems which have more than one solution. Just like in real life! *OECD (2016), Ten Questions for Mathematics Teachers ... and how PISA can help answer them, PISA, OECD Publishing, Paris, http://dx.doi. org/10.1787/9789264265387-en Mrs. Rossi is a Math teacher, principal and CEO of Paths to Math Ltd. She was one of the top 10 finalists in Global Teacher Prize 2016. She is one of the Top Teacher Bloggers in The Global Search for Education by C M Rubin. Twitter: @ pathstomath & www.pathstomath.com