My name is Helen Galiotos-Noguera and I have 15 years of teaching experience and I am currently a CPS middle school mathematics teacher at Alfred Nobel Elementary School. I have worked at Nobel for the past three years teaching 8th grade mathematics and I am looking forward to my fourth year there. I will see all my students for math daily for 90 minutes. Our curriculum resource that we use is Connected Mathematics 3 and supplement with MARS Tasks, Problem of the Months, and Learning Odyssey.
Nobel is a Level 1 neighborhood school and is located in West Humboldt Park. The student population is about 85% Hispanic, 13% Black, and 2% Other; with about 95% low income, 14% diverse learners, and 34% Limited English. Despite the high crime and gang activities in the neighborhood, Nobel has an enriching amount of programs to offer students and families.
Big Idea My big idea for my year long project is to increase and improve mathematical discourse in the classroom through helping students develop meaning of the vocabulary and make connections to the vocabulary in the real world. I seek answers to the following questions: How can students find meaning in math beyond mathematical vocabulary they are exposed to in school? How will they use these terms in their personal lives or to look at the world with a math perspective?
To begin to find the answers to these two questions, we need to first look at the ways in which math has been taught over the decades. We are introduced to a math concept, are given a formula to use, and find the solution. What’s missing is the “why”. We have the “what”. What is this math concept/what are we going to learn, but why do we have to learn it; how can we use this in the real world; how will what the students learn in the classroom “stick”, instead of having students forget what finding the “mean” means (for example).
Students need to know why math“works” the way it does. Lets look at the Pythagorean Theorem, for example, we know the formula, we use it, but why? Why square the sides? Why are there two legs and a hypotenuse? Why does this formula work only for right triangles? Students need to explore the proofs to be able to make the connection with the formula and its application. Once they make the connection, then they will be able to improve their mathematical discourse and be able to apply it to solve real world problems.
As I brainstorm ideas on implementing my big idea, I will first look at the vocabulary (prior knowledge) that students should have before beginning each unit. I plan to use a “flipped classroom” approach for prior knowledge by having vocabulary review sessions recorded and assigning students the short videos for homework. When students come to class, we can connect what they already know from prior knowledge to the current content.
As we begin with new content, students will explore the investigations in CMP3 in small groups and have mathematical discourse within their groups. As we discuss our finding as a whole group, common terminology will be discovered. Students will use the Talk Moves to facilitate with conversations.
Another idea I wish to implement is for students to create their own vocabulary journal. At the end of each Investigation or unit, have students in their small groups create meme, gifs, or a story about the vocabulary words that they’ve learned and how to use them in the real world.