Math Matters: Making Math an Adventure
As a former teacher, parent and long-time education journalist, I know students learn best when they’re both engaged and challenged. A focus on basic skills, as mandated by NCLB, may be well-intentioned but can have the unintended side effect of both “dumbing down” the curriculum and forcing a culture of “drill and kill” down the throats of students. So many teachers I’ve spoken with in the last few years have shared their frustration at how pressure to teach to high stakes tests has effectively drained the fun and creativity out of the classroom experience.
This 30-segment video resource focuses on ninth grade Pre-Algebra and Algebra. What makes this unit different from most? It revolves around the world of off-road motorcycle racing. Our team worked with a group of young HotChalk-sponsored cyclists, videotaping them jumping off ramps along dirt bike tracks and racing up the golden summer hills of a ranch overlooking the ocean in Central California. Courtesy of math teachers Jason Dyer (Pueblo High School, Tuscon, AZ), who scripted out the ‘real world’ algebra problems, and John Villavicencio (Berkeley High School, Berkeley, CA), who explains the step-by-step solutions in each segment, we are bringing you our first homemade model of YouTube-style learning, “Off-Road Algebra.”
Our hope is that you’ll try out this unit with your class, and let us know what you think. We’d like you to be active participants in helping to shape the digital resources we feel are at the heart of learning in the new century.
Beyond the simple fact that we are turning off kids to learning with this dry approach, we’re also doing nothing to counter the twin crises of a growing national dropout rate (conservatively set at one-third of all high school students) and a shrinking number of graduates in the crucial STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) areas (“Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future“).
The irony in all this is that we have, at our fingertips, an unprecedented array of sophisticated and affordable tools that can go a long way toward putting the excitement, innovation and joy back into teaching and learning.
You may also be interested in our Financial Literacy for Students series.
Welcome back to school and to doing what you do best: Teaching kids.