Math is social

screen-shot-2016-10-09-at-4-42-47-pmThe big idea I left with from our September 9th PD training with Marcelle is that learning a language is “social.”  In my own class, social learning is one that involves listening, presenting collaborating and movement. One reason I don’t allow listening to music in class is that a student cuts themselves off from others. The opportunity to interact has now been removed completely. Someone might say: ”Well, a shy student simply won’t talk anyway.” Maybe, but the opportunity is there.  What I want my students to know is that math can be a social activity as well. This simply doesn’t mean that we are explaining things to one another, but also that we are hearing each other’s perspective on math challenges both large and small.

I was guided to the site Collaborative Mathematics, which was set up by mathematician, teacher, and juggler, Jason Ermer.  Jason’s idea is simple; he posts videos about a mathematical idea, and challenges his audience to solve it. You, in turn, make a response video explaining your solution.  Jason has said that students should work in teams. He calls them “solving peers”.  In this way, our ideas are formed and refined while we interact with our peers. But his most important reason? So don’t feel like you have to do it all alone.”

We have been led to believe that struggling while learning, especially with math, is a bad thing. Although it is not painless, we can collaborate and thus lessen that struggle….after all, a problem shared is a problem halved (and a 50% reduction to any problem has to be a good thing for any math student!) As we communicate our thoughts to others and “hear a diversity of ways of interpreting the same concepts, we also improve our speaking and learning. I am going to begin saying : “Math is social!”

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