Sunday, August 16, 2015

Getting students to think about Brain Function in Math

As we get ready to start another school year, I am really thinking about my first week of school.  My first week has  couple major goals:
  • Get to know students' names
  • Convince students they can do math
  • Discuss Multiple Intelligences
  • Discuss how a teenagers brain works
  • Discuss Growth Mindset and Fixed Mindset
I usually don't start any of my official "learning targets" until the second week.  I have used numerous approaches for this each year.  This year I am going to try to use the youcubed material for "A Week of Inspirational Math."  I am pretty excited about this approach this year.  It seems to cover most of my major goals while simultaneously getting into some interesting math.  

During the week I am going to slowly go through my first week Prezi presentation about the goals as well.  I am going to use this instead of the youcubed videos on various days.  

When talking about how the brain can get better at math by "doing math" I have used a road analogy in the past.  This year I am going to add some visuals to this analogy to hopefully help it sink in.  

Image 1: Grassy Field
The road to math starts as a grassy field that is slow and hard to cross.  It takes a lot of effort to do math but it can be done.  

Image 2: Small Dirt Path
As you do more math, the brain upgrades the path a little bit to do math.  Now when a student does math the thinking goes a little better because of the repetitive use of that part of the brain.

Image 3: Dirt Road
The brain upgrades again to you can do harder math and it comes a little faster.

Image 4: Tarred Road
The brain keeps upgrading those connections to math knowledge.  The more often you work on math, the better the pathway to math gets so you can learn more complicated math.

Image 5: Interstate Highway
The brain keeps upgrading the connections for harder math problems.

Hopefully these images combined with the messages from YouCubed will help convince students that if they keep on trying in math, they will improve their math skills.  

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