I have been getting a lot of emails regarding functions. How to teach them in a way that helps students to understand and remember what they are and why they are so important in mathematics (and science and computers and...)
So, I thought I would share some previous blog posts to help you feel encouraged and empowered when teaching functions.
The first resource I would like to pass along will give you ideas for helping students to master all the content in your linear equations/functions in the time you have planned.
Do your students hate radical functions? If they do, follow these three tips to not only make learning them easier for your students but teaching them easier for you. Let’s jump right in!
I like teaching inverse functions. This inverse functions lesson plan will help you find connections with your students. With the real world context, students understand this concept well by the end of class.
While it may take more time up front to ensure that students understand the concept of functions, in the long run, it will save you time. The ability to see patterns and complete the calculations without help will be priceless. When you give students an in-depth understanding and allow time for processing the concepts, they go into long-term memory and students gain quite an advantage as they continue their math education.
Humor is good, right?
Sarcasm is so easy. It is fun to get a laugh. It certainly had a place in our home growing up and within my extended family too.
I brought it with me as a teacher in my classroom. Humor is good, right?
What I didn't realize is that I was tearing apart the most important relationships that I had with my students. I often thought that the better our relationship the more I could use sarcasm as a humor mechanism and it would be okay. But that meant I was hurting the students that were relying on me the most.
What I came to understand is that sarcasm comes at someone's expense. And even more, with the ever-growing emotional needs of our students, many students don't hear or understand sarcasm and are left in the dark. So what I thought of as bringing humor and connection into my classroom was actually doing the opposite.
So, unfortunately, what I learned, is that the better relationship I had in the fall with my students would often deteriorate by the spring. This was a tough lesson and it's hard to share with you. But that's why I must do it.
In no way would I ever want to hurt my students or allow them to feel left out of a common joke. And no way would I want to deteriorate the relationships that I work so hard to build up.
Learning a new way
The first time this came to my attention, was at a conference. and when they said this I realized all the harm I've been doing. And I have to admit the cutting it out of my classroom was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I had grown up with sarcasm it was valued as wit and smarts and if I was being completely honest I respected kids that could hand it right back.
But what I learned and how my classroom changed spoke for itself. My students begin to trust me more, my struggling students started to open up more, my room became a safe place for all students, not just ones with a quick wit.
So I have a challenge for you, do your best this week to cut sarcasm from your classroom and take note of the difference it makes and your students. I think you will be as pleasantly surprised as I was many years ago.
Want to learn more?
If you'd like more ways to connect with your struggling students, right now we are enrolling in our 10-day challenge: how to teach Common Core math to at-risk students. For only $17, you can enroll in our 10-day challenge that will give you actionable steps in only a few minutes a day. click here to learn more
But hurry! The Challenge starts on Monday, October 8!
You may have noticed this post on Facebook Page recently. (If not, feel free to like our page. We would love for you to join us!)
One of the comments really made me think.
"This is supposed to be encouraging...but I feel that it’s most truly an indictment on our society!" - Dan
I hear what this reader is saying and yet I respectfully disagree.
So I'd like to start with the fact that I don't often mention the politics on my blog or my Facebook page not because I want to ignore them or pretend like they're not there, but because I want this to be a place of encouragement and I know that you already know all of these things.
I want my blog and my Facebook page and my Twitter feed to all inspire and give you lesson plans, and teaching strategies that will help encourage you in your classroom and this quote is there for the same reason. I know that when I personally and feeling a little beat up by the media or the administrator or whatever obstacle is in my way, focusing on others that need me and that I can lift up often will bring me out of that feeling of being in the dumps.
So in sharing this, I'm not trying to make you feel hopeless on the state of homes or parenting, but help you shift your focus to those kids that need you. Because in the end, that's why we all got into this profession. If I asked a hundred teachers why they started this journey, 99 would say to affect or to change a child's life. And that's why I love working with teachers.
A Little About My Story
A little about my story. My story growing up is wonderful. I lived in a beautiful neighborhood surrounded by state land and kids to play with and a lot of capture the flag. My parents love me very much, and I was never in need of a relative. But in school, we moved from one district to another, and they were not lined up. In math I did okay, but in reading and spelling, I was far behind and always felt I would never catch up.
I was always in the lowest reading group. It does not matter how they name them you always know when you're in the lowest reading group, and my confidence wavered.
While my parents encouraged me a lot, it wasn't until I met Ms. McConnell in 11th grade that my view of myself changed. In pre-college composition, she taught me that I could write. She taught me that I could spell. She showed me that I had a lot to say. And so yes, even on her worst day she was my hope, and I know that because of her I had the confidence to start this blog years ago.
And in my senior math class with Mr. Allen, I learned that he pushed us so hard because he believed in us. During the last semester at my high school, Mr. Allen always pulled us aside one by one to talk about our futures. He asked us about the college we would attend. (As an Ohio State graduate, he did not approve of my decision to go to Michigan State.)
And he asked why we were going to school. As the first person in my family to go to college, I was nervous and so scared. I told him I wanted to be a math teacher and I remember my innocent voice asking him if he thought I had what it would take.
His answer, “Jeanette, you have what it takes to be anything you want to be.” As he looked me in the eyes, I knew he believed it.
And so yes, even if his world was falling apart, he was my hope.
So my words to you… Sometimes the best hope is a call to Child Protective Services, or an apple because they didn’t get breakfast. But other times the best hope is a belief in their potential or a kind (or stern) word of encouragement.
Whatever your students need today, go after it. This is why we started this crazy teaching journey. Isn’t it?
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