MathPickle Professional Development
engaging the full spectrum of students
The best way to making lasting change in math education is to engage whole school communities of students, teachers and parents. This is as true in North America as it is in Asia. MathPickle’s one-week interventions focus on mentoring teachers in their own classroom and communicating directly with parents about how they can best help from the home.
Even as adults, we do not all learn the same way and Gord was very good at restating, rephrasing, giving hints, providing manipulates working with a partner or even having us act it out until each person reached an “Ah Ha” moment and could continue on. Every time we work with Gord it is a positive learning experience and people feel on a “high” because of it.
Not only did he deliver on the goal to reduce the fear of failure in the classroom, his enthusiasm leaked into all the disciplines and his “big picture” thinking led us to create expositions of student work and thinking that challenged the brightest in our school. He teaches the way children learn – through inquiry and tenacious, self-directed thinking!
It was delightful to walk into classrooms this year and see children deeply engaged, challenged, laughing and moving – during their math class! The fact that our students not only explored the joys of failing to solve but the joys of persevering to try again, made this investment more than worthwhile.
MathPickle helps teachers with their number one challenge:
“How to engage the spectrum of student ability?”
Whenever an elementary school teacher wants to teach addition, she will invariably face 20% of students who already know how to add and another 20% who are struggling with last year’s curriculum. How can she engage the top students without losing the bottom students? How can she engage the bottom students without boring the top students? Parents of top students often ask that their child be allowed to accelerate through the curriculum – thus exacerbating the problem for future teachers, and setting up a failure-impoverished education experience. A wiser approach is to use curricular puzzles, games and mini-competitions to simultaneously teach curriculum to the students who need it, and to deflect top students into tough problem solving activities. This is never time wasted, because problem solving is at the heart of a quality mathematics education and the primary reason we teach it.
The experience of mathematics should be profound and beautiful. Too much of the regular K-12 mathematics experience is trite and true. Children deserve tough, beautiful puzzles.
We start by giving students a curricular unsolved problem from the last 150 years. These problems are carefully chosen to ensure that all students experience some successes and some failures along the way. Tenacity-building through failure is best taught through math and physical education. It is in the repeated daily exposure to failure that students lose the stigma of failure and are able to fully engage.
Dr. Pickle emphasized perseverance, not right and wrong. For those students who struggled in math, they started to feel success because they could persevere. For those students who have always done well in math, they learned to persevere and not be afraid of being wrong.
I have always hated math, thought I wasn’t good or smart at it. I not only believe that math can be fun and that I have it in me to excel, but I now believe that I will be capable to teach it to my future students.
Seeing a group of students struggle with a problem I went over and asked if they needed a hint or some help.
a dynamo on the international stage
Mathematicians and educators got together to select one curricular unsolved problem for each grade K-12. These are pedagogic gems! Every child deserves to see them during their education. This conference was a highlight of my professional life.
This festival is a great way to encourage collaboration in problem solving in your school community. The cooperative atmosphere is especially engaging for girls.
The purpose of this conference was to get educators and mathematicians together to select one integer sequence for each grade K-12 from the Online Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences. This conference was another highlight of my professional life.
The purpose of this event will be to encourage the spread of board gaming into the home. Initial attempts have failed to attain the connection between math class and board games in the minds of the bulk of parents.