Use Your Experiences in Math – For Math!

Don't be a blind chicken when it comes to crossing the math road. Use your experiences! MathFour.comI’ve been thinking a lot about how students block memories from one math problem to the next.

Teachers and textbooks write exercise sets in order. We hope that students use what they learn in earlier problems to help with later problems.

But students seem to ignore this.

Ignoring previous math experiences is like a blind chicken crossing the road.

I was strangely unable to articulate this until my friend at Mocha Dad posted a challenge on Facebook:

Mocha Dad's challenge that led to a math teaching moment.

Here’s my blurb. It finally allows me to convey why remembering previous experiences in math is a huge benefit:

When you’re trying to remember a math rule, resist finding it in your memory exactly like your teacher made you write it. If you do that, you’re like a chicken embarking upon a blind quest to cross the road.

A smart chicken considers all the roads he’s crossed before, remembering the challenges and successes. He even compares this road to trails, highways and paths.

When he reaches the coveted candy prize on the other side, he thanks his teacher for her kindness in sharing the rule. But he also knows that it was his experiences that really made the difference.

Your turn…

What have you noticed about student learning that you find hard to articulate?

And how can you get students to change for the better?

Share this on PinterestTwitter and Facebook. Or pick up the phone and tell someone!

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