The paths to "Eureka" moments: Teaching Mathematics in Secondary Education

Posts tagged ‘Activities’

H5- Honor student potential for roles in the greater society

H5- Honor student potential for roles in the greater society

Teacher-candidates prepare students to be responsible citizens for an environmentally sustainable, globally interconnected, and diverse society.

This means that teachers should teach in such a way so as to guide students to be responsible people in diverse society. In the math classroom, this includes thinking critically so as to solve real-world problems (such as environmental sustainability).

As a math teacher, there has been numerous times in which my classes have engaged in problem-solving exercises and activities. As a warm up before starting a unit on algebraic functions, I used a youtube video about the Enigma Machine. This machine was used in World War II to encode and decode messages by the Germans. The video, along with explaining the mathematics surrounding the machine, provided historical background and global facts surrounding the machine and its uses. The clip also explained how different countries had attempted to crack the code so as to intercept messages.

Four-rotor German Enigma cypher machine, 1939-1945.

This short film allowed students to think of mathematical topics as globally interconnected- a universal language. Following the films, students worked collaboratively to solve coded problems (functions with inputs and outputs) and determine the code (function rule). In working collaboratively, diverse students gained insight from multiple perspectives and were encouraged in their mutual respect for the skills of others (responsible citizenship).

Through using the video as inspiration and encouraging group work, I learned the power of collaboration among students and effective ways of motivating student learning. In the future, I would like to use this video as an inspiration for students to write more about what they learned and express their understanding in written reflection.


Extra-curricular Reflection #3

Softball Game

Walking up to the stands, I heard my name “Look, its Ms. Becker”, “Hi Ms. Becker!” I had talked with several of my math students about their softball games and determined to come see the recreational department teams play. It was great to see their enthusiasm for the game, their encouragement towards each

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other, and analyze the positions they played. I was surprised to see one student, typically distracted in my algebra class, pitch the entire second round of innings. She was focused, methodical, and very talented. She struck out many batters and ended up winning the game for her team. She did not waver under pressure and threw few balls, walking no one while I watched.

As I watched her from behind the fence, I thought, “Well, that’s it. Now I will have to expect more out of her in class.” It is interesting how an outside event affected my view of this student. Now that I knew she was capable of intense focus and drive, I felt I could use softball, or the dynamics of the game, to inspire focus and motivation in algebra. There are many aspects of math that can be applied to baseball/softball. In this way, I hope to incorporate student interest in my math lessons.

Extra-curricular Reflection #2

Teachers versus Students Volleyball

The tension built as we walked out on the court. Our adversaries were warming up with their traditional drills, their uniforms and knee pads giving them the professional edge over our mismatched bare-kneed team of teachers and interns. As we began playing, our objective was obvious- get the ball over the net. Out opponents however, as an experienced team, worked to touch the ball three times before sending it flying in our direction. While we were inexperienced and sloppy, our strategy began paying off as we kept pace with the skilled middle school girls’ team. It was teachers versus students, and it was close. Our simple but effective strategy won out in the end as the teachers won, beating the students by 7 in the last game.

images (1)This experience was awesome. At first I was nervous as I was thought dressing down would make me “less of a teacher” in the mind of my students. Instead, it seemed to humanize me to my students, showing them I was competitive and enjoyed athletics. Students and principal cheered together as both teams focused on the little white ball flying back and forth across the court. In the end, the teachers won. I didn’t like this outcome as I thought it would probably be best to let students win, since teachers had also won in the basketball game. However, the students took it well and everyone seemed to have a good time.

Extra-curricular Reflection #1

Activity Day at Middle School

6a00d8341fa9ad53ef00e54f0c5a108833-800wiOn special days at our middle school, the academic day ends early and students and teachers participate in a variety of fun activities- Activity Day! On this particular day, several tables were set up with games like “guess what’s in the box”, where students stuck their hands in a black box only to feel slimy spaghetti or Jell-O. Other tables had puzzles and board games, while the gym shook from the bass as the school dance took place. It was fun to see students relaxed and in a non-classroom setting. As I helped to direct the “guess what’s in the box” activity, I was able to connect with my students on a more personal level, joke around with them, and observe their friend groups outside the classroom. It was also helpful to see where students’ interests took them. Some students preferred to dance the whole time, while others preferred to sit at the doodle-design activity table.


Understanding students’ interests will definitely help me as I plan math lessons and activities. This will especially be helpful as I look to connect math topics with the real life experiences of my students.