A Change Will Do You Good

I’m doing some things in my trig class differently from what my students are used to. For example, instead of showing them how to multiply a trinomial and a binomial, I reviewed how to multiply two binomials and then asked them to figure out how do it with a trinomial. I answered questions and gave support but did not give instructions. I did this for two reasons: first, it’s important for students to view math as a way of figuring things out, not a list of disjointed procedures. Second, in Brain Rules by John Medina, which all teachers at my school read over the summer, Medina explains that simple things are actually harder to remember, while complex things (like applying a concept to a new situation without comprehensive directions) are actually easier to remember.

Some students (I’m thinking of one in particular) are unexpectedly thriving in this new atmosphere and love the change. Others are ambivalent. Others (again, I’m thinking of one in particular) seem frustrated that the familiar math class landscape has changed, leaving them uncertain of how to proceed.

I’m crossing my fingers that I can help them appreciate this more meaningful challenge.

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