We often feature the experience teachers share teaching our curricula to their students, especially when they are exposing students to a new way of thinking about the world around them and their roles in solving problems through inquiry.
One such superstar is high school math teacher is Teri Owens (Etowah High School), who we have had the joy of featuring on Education Insider and getting to know since she and her students began their exciting journey to problem-based, engaging math with Interactive Mathematics Program® (IMP). (Teri Owens: Using Technology to Bust The Ghosts of Traditional Math Curriculum).
For just over a year, Teri has consistently documented her classroom experience pushing herself, and students, out of old learning habits and comfort zones with IMP math. Though there were challenging moments along the way (as is always the case when learning to think and do something differently than you’re accustomed to), Teri and her students succeeded in showing us (and the world) that change is good, hard work pays off, and math is fun! (What Does Math Look Like in Today’s Classroom?).
Teri recently joined a compelling Blogging Challenge, launched by the #MTBoS chat group on Twitter (a professional learning network of courageous math teachers helping one another to change the game in math learning). The blogging initiative (launched January 10th), asks math teachers to blog weekly about a particular topic, chosen by moderators, relating to teaching math. The response from teachers has been incredible and inspiring, with blog posts pouring in and lively discussion around submitted posts.
We weren’t surprised to see Teri, who has been dutifully blogging about her classroom experiences on her own personal blog, participating in the Blogging Challenge. Her submissions, which you can read on her blog, are thoughtful, funny and honest. Below is the Week 2 Challenge:
“Our week two blogging challenge is to simply blog about one of your favorite things. Called a “My Favorite,” it can be something that makes teaching a specific math topic work really well. It does not have to be a lesson, but can be anything in teaching that you love!“
Teri’s answer to the Week 2 Challenge blew us away. Below is her full blog post answer to the challenge:
“I was thinking about the prompt for this week’s MTBoS’s Blogging Initiative during my first block class today. I was also watching them draw sketches for the unit problem in The Pit and the Pendulum unit of our Algebra text. I went down to Mrs. New’s room after class and was talking to her about how much fun it is to have these days where my students get to do something that is “outside the box” of what usually happens in algebra class.
I am great at research and can find some cool activities by Googling or asking the “all-knowing” #MTBoS on Twitter but that takes a lot of time and although I enjoy it there are moments during the school year that I just can’t dedicate time to finding the “perfect” activity. This is why I LOVE our IMP Meaningful Math Algebra books. The units are so creative. The students have opportunities to draw sketches, write, perform experiments, and apply the majority of algebra to a context that helps them to wrap their mind around the topics. We still solve algebra problems in class, of course, but if you teach from this text you will already have creative lessons and ways to make connections to history, English, and science within the units.
I know that there is a movement out there to “ditch the textbook” and I get it. However, I am blessed to be in my 2nd year of teaching from a textbook that I can feel good about teaching from cover to cover. I love days like today where my “non-mathy” students come in and realize they will have the opportunity to show off their art skills. I am a math/English certified teacher so I love that 2 of our units use literature contexts to make them more interesting (the other is Alice in Wonderland).
I heard NCTM’s president, Diane Briars, speak this past Fall. I remember her talking about how some teachers are trying to piece together resources from here or there in order to teach. I am paraphrasing here and I hope that I don’t misrepresent what she was saying that day – but I feel like her intention was to remind us that a teacher’s job is not to write curriculum. This made me realize that it is okay that I do not come up with original ideas and activities to use in my classroom! Sometimes I feel guilty about not having that “gift.” However, she talked about how we should be careful during the textbook adoption process to find texts that are well written. I had never been shown how to analyze topics in a textbook. That seems silly I guess but until I started teaching from the IMP books I never cared what textbooks we used because I was of the opinion that they were all the same. Definitions, examples, and problems sets… I had never heard of research-based curriculum that had been developed with the “approval” of the NSF (National Science Foundation). After teaching from these books I understand the difference!
So…one of my favorite things that I use in my classroom is our “new-to-me” textbooks!“
One of our favorite things is working with, and being inspired by, courageous math teachers who persevere and shape the minds of our future leaders. Thank you Teri Owens!
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Latest posts by IAT Staff (see all)
- My Favorite Thing… My Textbook (surprise!!) (by Teri Owens) - January 29, 2016
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- Courageous Math Teachers - September 25, 2015