Make the Pi Day of the Century in your School

Many of my students have a difficult time understanding some abstract math concepts. The best way to help them is to find activities involving real-life objects and opportunities, engaging students from the concrete to abstract. The concept of π is familiar to students, but they really don’t understand, what it means.

I need to spend some time collecting materials. I try to find circular items like a magnifying glass, a clock, plastic cylindrical containers like soup cans, or oatmeal tins, measuring tapes, ropes or strong yarn and calculators.

Students work in this activity as a pair-share. First students measure circular objects and collect their findings about the ratio of the circumference to the diameter. This part of the activity goes well and they like to shout that they already understand pi!

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The second part needs larger space than your regular classroom, because they have to draw a large circle. A playground outdoors or a spacious corridor will do.

Take this activity outside and allowing them to use their own shoe as a measurement, they will be amazed! Drawing a circle in the dirt or on the snow with the help of rope and stick is not so obvious for them.

During measurements they often change the measurer, the other is measuring the circumference and the other diameter. Can you do this! You get fascinating conversation about it.

This activity touches students deeply when they discover that even when using their own shoe as a measurement the ratio remains the same.

In this method they have enacted the Greeks investigation on this idea and obtained the same values as they did. Most students even at the junior high school level have heard of π but only after doing this type of activity do they really understand the concept.

Date 3.14.15 is a great opportunity to arrange this in the school yard! Make the Pi Day of the century.

Find more fun mathematics exercises such as this on in Paths to Math. This you find from the module Geometry 2 , chapter 5 and 5.3 Going around in circles.

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Teaching in an App Wonderland

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There is clearly a big need for improvement in the current status of mathematics learning in all grades below high school. A major issue is dealing with students’ attention and excitement for working on math problems. Silence and a lack of enthusiasm have become the result, thus narrowing the opportunities for many occupations and careers in science and technology.

Many programs aim to increase the number of students staying in advance Math classes, like STEM (curriculum designed to build strengths for Science, technology, engineering and mathematics), within the App market and other technologies are playing the same game.

Lost in the great multitude of options are many options. Between free apps, paid apps, iphone only, android only, some cover one aspect of the curriculum and others the rest. The challenge of all this only becomes greater when the teacher must use their own free time to pick the right fit for their classroom.

Once the educator has chosen an app they will notice most programs address mechanical processes, ignoring the learner in experiencing conceptual understanding.

The pressure for teachers to give a 21st century education is real. The trend is only growing. In my research I question if an app is teaching fractions, how can they explain that shooting at something as fast as you can has any connection to math?

Has anything changed in Math education? Do we believe more in behavioristic learning than to constructivist learning? Are students more motivated? Why do they come to school?

Most likely students come to school because they want to be together. Learning is a social activity and the role of the schools is to provide challenging and innovative learning experiences for them. Of course today’s student wants to use modern technologies, which are an excellent help for practicing routine tasks.

Paths to Math is a web-based learning environment that can be used any time anywhere and with any device. It is based on modern learning theory using modern technology. It is designed to support teacher-student and student-to- student interactions by providing material and suggestion to implement pair share, group work, projects, modeling, hands-on learning, research and independent work. These are complemented by videos and interactive tasks placed where they are needed to support the learner when needed. Teachers have more time to mentor and support individual students, showing them real life situations that math can be meaningful for the students and help them to perceive the complex world.

Make math the favorite subject in school!

Why is math one of the most unliked and even feared school subject among teenagers?

Today, students hold the impression that math facts are the essence of mathematics. Many think the essence of math is to get the correct answers, and fast. This has given birth to the idea a fast recall of math facts means to be strong math! When being tested, they become stressed, causing them to not use their full capacity of think. Lacking flexible thinking, they get stuck, stop and underachieve. When students stress, their working memory is blocked and cannot access the math facts they know. Teens are feeling a disconnection between math and the real world. Classrooms are focused on mastering calculation skills and raw memorization of math facts. The sad truth is, often learning is happening by chance. These are some of the reasons that are demotivating students in Math education.

Let’s wake up students interest and love for Math

As fellow educators we know first hand our mandate is to give students the tools to succeed, in math and in life. We have invested countless hours new knowledge and research about learning, it is time to apply this knowledge into your schools. From a teacher centered method of instruction we broaden the scope by changing to a student-centered way of learning. We have built a balance between various teaching and learning methods, and bring the real world to the classroom. Students are given endless possibilities to work with rich mathematical problems in a safe, modern and supportive learning environment. Math can give students an experience, which strengthens their confidence to tackle problems and develop their own critical thinking. Working together they can talk, test and interpret solutions. We can give them a learning environment while they working on a problems they enjoy.

 

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Can students like routine Math task?

Often students experience calculations of routine tasks as unpleasant and unnecessary. As teachers we know that they need to exercise to get a satisfactory or preferably a good level in numeracy skills. Learning games is one way to make mechanical practice interesting and securing basic skills.

In the teaching experiments it has been noticed that proper games can be used to develop e.g. problem-solving skills and reasoning ability. When using learning games, the implementation of the objectives of the core curriculum can be promoted. Using suitable games the reasoning and evaluation skills of the pupils can be strengthened.

We use the word Learning Games for board games on paper and Interactive Tasks on tablets and computers.

Board games

In Paths to Math we have one or more board game almost in every module. Before the lesson the board has to be printed and usually players need some marks. There can also be a game where you need chessboard and two knights. The theme of the game is the same as in the learning area. E.g. Playing Piggy is a game to reinforce the operations with rational numbers. In this game, like in many others, the number of players can be from two up to teams. Every game has rules for playing, duration, winning and possible alterations. When students can play and plan the games and their rules, it will promote the development of the creativity. The playing offers challenges to both good and low-attainers.

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Interactive games

Student of today wants to use modern technologies, which are also an excellent help for practicing routine tasks.
In Paths to Math we have one or more interactive game almost in every module. Games are ready to use every time and every place.

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If the teacher doesn’t have a tablet or a computer for every student, the games can also be played in pairs or it’s easy to arrange playtime in a different part of the lesson. There are 20 questions involving the learning area. The game is offering a new question, if student doesn’t get it right the first time. Student can continue also after answering wrong, but doesn’t get as many rewards as possible. The game is rewarding with different amount of stars and for the best results also different kind of pictures. Student can collect different kind of pictures.

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Students come to school because they want to be together. Learning is a social activity and the role of the schools is to provide challenging and innovative learning experiences for them. Learning games give students a good opportunity to play together and learn at the same time – sometimes they don’t even notice that they learn and enjoy!

Classification in Learning Math

The knowledge forms and changes through a process. Therefore, it is more important for pupils to learn to connect and to arrange information through experiences and observations than to learn to memorize single facts. A pupil constructs connections actively between new information and his/her own data structure. The more there are these connections, the more useful the information in question is to the pupil.

When approaching a new concept classification gives a good method for student to arrange previous understanding and knowledge.   During classifying pupils begin to arrange the concept on the base of it’s properties. Classifying supports active learning while pupils are talking with their pair or group.

In Paths to Math we use e.g. classification when pupils are approaching a new concept or strengthening one. For example we use this method in classifying solids, surface areas, terms etc.

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In general Mathematics is believed to be a field only accessible to people with innate abilities.  Based in experience and results we believe that Mathematics is accessible to all given different methods used for teaching and learning.