Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Math Lit FAQ: Do I have flexibility using Math Lit?

Answer:  Absolutely!

Since the beginning of the pathways movement, there has been an emphasis on using new pedagogy with developmental math students.  But doing so is unfamiliar to many instructors.  Because of that, we incorporated a lot of instructor support into the Math Lit book at every level:  course, cycle, and lesson.  Throughout the lessons, there are suggestions for teaching with groups or as a whole class, how much time for each part of a lesson, tips for teaching, and questions to consider asking.  We created tests, quizzes, rubrics, project templates and a ready-to-go MyMathLab course based on requests from class testers.  This level of support is provided to address direct requests we received for teaching with a new style.

However, some faculty see that level of support and would prefer to not use all of it all of the time.  Heather and I fall into that category and many faculty will too.  You are in charge of your classroom and you know your students and your style.  So you will have ideas on how you want to proceed and it's not necessarily going to match our suggestions.  That's great and to be expected because the book is not a script.

To give instructors who desire more assistance what they need, we have a lot of stepped out problems on the page.  If someone needs that and it's not there, they don't necessarily want to create it on the fly.  For the person who doesn't want it, we suggest ignoring what you're not interested in using and teaching how you would prefer.  I do this with all the books I teach from.  Because depending on the day, my students, current events, what have you, I will want to adapt and flex my instruction.  Sometimes I do every problem on the page and ask every question and some days I do something completely different.  That's your prerogative as an instructor.

There are many other places where flexibility exists.  You can omit lessons for which you do not need the content.  You can skip the focus problems or use them but skip the focus problem lessons in class.  You can swap out suggested activities for ones you would like to do.  For example, in lesson 3.5, we have an exploration where students measure a cup of flour by volume and then weigh it to see the variation in a 1-cup measurement.  I've done this for several semesters and it's always been fun and informative.  But this semester I wanted something different.  Heather had the idea of setting a timer on the document camera and starting it.  She asked students to put their heads down and close their eyes and look up when they thought a minute had passed.  They were then to see what time had really passed on the timer and write that time down.  We collected the actual times from students and used that as a data set to talk about natural variation instead of the flour weights.

Other options include having students do some of the Explores and/or Connects as homework instead of in class.  You could use the videos we will have in the spring to have students work on skills outside of class and do only the Explores and Connects in class.  This would emulate a flipped classroom approach.  You can teach everything in groups or everything as a whole class instead of the combined approach used in the book.

These are just a few examples.  The key takeaway is that you run your classroom.  The book is there to provide students with relevant problems for explorations, theory and terminology, and key examples for reference.  How you use the content and how much or how little you use the structure of the book and its lessons is up to you, just as it is with any text.  Make it work for you and your students.

No comments:

Post a Comment