Just do math

Alice Aspinall

Secondary Mathematics Teacher at Walkerville Collegiate Institute, Greater Essex County District School Board, Author of Everyone Can Learn Math, YouTube.com/MrsALovesMath



Old school math

Mathematics used to be a very independent subject. Growing up, we sat in rows and worked on questions in isolation, periodically asking the teacher for clarification. Once in a while, for FUN, we worked in groups on an assignment. This is no longer the scene in our math classrooms today. We have made the shift to a collaborative learning environment where math discussions among peers are not only encouraged, but are the norm.




Sparking collaboration and discussion

Last week, our school held their annual Grade 8 Information night, and our department head, Chez Cetra (@CetraChez) had a new idea - to showcase the math learning that goes on in our classrooms throughout the hallway as groups of parents and potential future students walked by. We often showcase the arts in this way, so why not math?




Just do math

With the use of Wipebook Flipcharts, we placed vertical non-permanent surfaces in the halls and asked students to come and “just do math.” We had ten students set up in groups of 2-3 on each surface and they worked away on their math questions, just as they do in our classes. Parents and students stopped along their tours to ask what they were working on and the members of each group explained the solutions that were displayed for all to see. The joy our students exuded while working out their answers together was obvious and so contagious that night.



Math should be part of regular visible discussions

Allowing our students opportunities to visibly discuss mathematics with each other regularly has greatly improved the atmosphere in our classrooms. It brings happiness to a subject that, unfortunately, is often stereotyped as the opposite. Math should be a normal part of our discourse and it should be appreciated as a beautiful art form that is worthy of being on display.




Non-permanent surfaces everywhere....

I encourage you to value your students’ math work enough to display it - use vertical non-permanent surfaces like whiteboards, chalkboards, and Wipebook Flipcharts, or post solutions done on paper by taking a photo and projecting it for students to view and discuss. Then, watch the pride on their faces as they work to improve their solutions together.


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