I’ve always loved math. It’s fun to be able to solve problems and it builds confidence when you’re able to figure something out. But do you remember sitting in a classroom, working on math problems, and wondering when in the world are you ever going to use these skills? Someone inevitably would ask this question out loud and you know what the teacher would say – “Just you wait, you are going to use these math skills for the rest of your life!” We classmates would groan and roll our eyes, but I have to admit those math teachers were right! What was crazy is that I had to wait until I was an adult to realize the value of what I learned, but we have students today that are recognizing the necessity of these skills as you read this post.
Leigh Anne Medina, Nathan Fincham, and Danielle Williams, all math teachers at Mountain View High School, are using actual situations to put those math skills to use. But it gets better than that – students are making a short 2-3 minute video about their process of solving a contextual problem. A perfect example of this is when Medina asked her students to solve a landscaping problem from a real-life project that she faced in her own backyard. Now the learning just got a little more meaningful. Here are a couple of student videos explaining how to solve the problem. It’s enlightening to see the different learning and solving styles!
I found myself learning while watching the video and also thinking about the power there is in teaching others – it necessitates you to learn the content. I’ve found this to be true when I create tutorials for others. By the time I’m finished, I know the subject pretty well. Medina had one of her students tell her, “I just had to pretend like I was teaching the class.” That’s pretty powerful!
Once the problem was solved and the students had turned in their videos, they got to see the actual landscaping project:
Medina said regarding these videos, “I have been so thrilled with hearing students explain their process while using mathematically rich vocabulary. My favorite videos include students who find an error in their work and are able to process through their error on video! This is something I intend to include when I am back in the classroom as well.”