Short-term goal: Some of the lessons I taught this year have seemed disjointed on the continuum of the curriculum that I teach. Every “cool” activity that I brought into my class this year as a result of my ImagineIT project applied to content that I teach and was standards-driven. However, I taught lessons based on the content of the major cross-curricular projects that my grade level team designed rather than teaching them at the time that they were appropriate. For example, we recently worked on a project that included silk screening as a major component. The lessons I took from this included angles, percentages and proportions, and direct variation linear equations. I taught linear equations during first quarter, not third. That lesson would have been more impactful if I could have taught it in first quarter or found a quadratic function relating to silk screening that I could have discussed with students. My goal in the next six months is to fit the math that I currently teaching into the activities, projects and trips.
Long-term goal: Students need to understand that mathematics is more than a series of insanely cool properties of numbers. Students need to understand where those properties come from and why they are useful. They need to be able to construct meaning for themselves with guidance from their teacher. They need to be able to make mistakes, be okay with those mistakes, and learn from them. The mathematics that I teach often focuses on learning and applying abstract rules but rarely allows students to construct the deeper meaning of material. I largely blame this on the high-stakes testing environment that is toxic in education right now. However, by completely ignoring what is known to be most beneficial to students, we are doing them a significant disservice. Because of this, within the next five years, I will teach students abstract mathematics content through applied mathematics lessons with every lesson that I teach. Students will construct meaning by experimenting with manipulatives, constructing things, and observing the world around them.