Saturday, January 18, 2014

Math in a new setting

Recently I was on CBC supporting the new math curriculum, and was asked what does the "new" math look like?  Here is my interview:

Next, I wanted to show exactly what the new math looks likes:

To start here is an example of what I used to provide to students when I was teaching the "traditional" math class:

Very few students found this engaging, or even worth while to complete.  I would assess a page of homework a day and my class was focused around memorization, and repetition.  This year I had the chance to teach a new course to our school "ESL math".  (English as a second Language Math).  I had students with low English and low math skills to students with low English and high math skills.  Using the philosophy of the new math curriculum here are some things we did.

Instead of writing definitions of words, students had to create a picture that clearly shows you understand the word.  One of my students could recite every line to every "Lord of the Rings" movie, and here is what he did.

Next instead of working on worksheets around surface area and volume, I had students create an object and then calculate the amount of tin foil needed to cover the object.  Feedback was given in the form of how much tin foil they had left over, and needed.  One student, whom was quite tall, wanted to create an object illustrating it is cool to be tall.

Another task was to determine if "Oreos Double stuff" is truly double stuffed.  We figured it is 1.99 stuffed...and I will be writing to Oreos to change the box to "Oreos...ALMOST double stuffed"..haha

Lastly, even for the final exam, instead of a hand written piece students had to create and present their product which illustrates their learning.  Here is an example from another class (as I do this in all my classes)

What becomes of them?

Very simple-engaged critical thinkers.  I realized this when my class discovered that a spherical pop can would be the best can for a constant volume and minimal surface area.  A student of mine showed up the next day and asked "Is this what we were talking about?" and showed me this picture she took at the local grocery store

She had left my class and next day showed up wanting to learn more!  That is exactly why I support the new math!


  1. Mr. Martin: I think there's a difference between high school kids who have mastered the fundamentals, and elementary kids just learning how to count and work with numbers for the first time.

  2. I heard your interview on CBC. Great job!