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- Teaching High School Mathematics in the 21st Century
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## Teaching High School Mathematics in the 21st Century

The last years of the 20th century saw the development, in many countries, of universal secondary education. This meant that all students, regardless of their ability or interest in mathematics, were required to continue learning in mathematics until the end of their secondary education.

In the past, students graduating from high school Math classrooms were, for the most part, “Math-Logical” thinkers. This meant that the pedagogue’s ‘Chalk and talk’ approach and multiple practice exercises worked for these students. But with all the students attending the high school, their learning styles didn’t work with this traditional pedagogue. This meant that the teaching pedagogues of Mathematics had to change. In addition, there was a need for massive changes in the curriculum in order to bring it into line with modern developments in mathematics, especially with the advent of computer technology. To further complicate the issue, if a teacher used a variety of pedagogues, the teacher had to use an evaluation process that reflected that pedagogue.

This meant that my teaching pedagogy had to be expanded to accommodate all my students as well as the requirements of modern Maths curricula.

Here’s how I tried to make math more engaging for my students in the early 21st century. There are fourteen strategies I used to help students want to be fully engaged in their Math development.

The student-centered strategies were:

1. Mathematics should be fun, relevant and relevant to life.

I used strategies such as a fun quiz, real-life questions, easy or hard challenges, questions in unfamiliar contexts, and quick tests to name just a few strategies.

2. I try to teach Math the way I would have liked to have been taught, not the way I have been taught.

Remember that you often get bored in “Math” classes and fail to see the relevance of math to your life. Don’t let your students feel this way.

3. I used various teaching strategies to adapt to the topics I was teaching.

Don’t let maths be just ‘chalk and talk’ and practice multiple exercises. Use technology, cooperative learning techniques, hands-on materials, hands-on lessons, quizzes, and any strategies that accommodate the different learning styles of your students. Then evaluate each topic in a way that reflects your teaching approach.

4. I often used my students as teaching assistants.

I often used my most capable students as mentors in their areas of expertise. I may have to give them some tutoring, but I’ve found that other students respond well to their help and progress faster. What is important about the mentor’s words is that they are in the language of the student. This allows the less able student to understand more quickly.

5. I set out to develop all the skills I could in all my students, regardless of their talent for mathematics.

The greater the range of skills I could teach my students, the greater their chances of long-term success. These skills can include estimating, planning, how to check effectively as well as how best to establish the solution to a problem.

6. I worked hard to help students develop their own understanding of mathematics, not just adopt my understanding.

In other words, I introduced the ideal of ‘constructivism’ into my teaching.

My teacher-centered strategies were:

7. I taught math through the Sigil.

The quiz is an example of a way to create stealth learning. It seems more fun than learning math for many students.

8. Teaching mathematics should be challenging, exciting and fun for you, the teacher. It was for me.

I looked for real-life examples to use in my teaching and assessment. I included short problem solving/critical thinking exercises in each lesson. These don’t have to be difficult every time. For difficult examples, I would give students hints slowly.

9. I would experiment with new teaching approaches, then evaluate their success, revise the approach, plan a new version, and try again.

I introduce new teaching strategies into my program and refine them through a review process. These different strategies catered to the different learning styles of the students. In addition, they added new and interesting teaching challenges for me, as a teacher.

10. Working with middle and high school classes allowed me the flexibility to experiment with new teaching and assessment approaches that I could use.

This is because these years’ assessment results are used to assess students internally rather than externally. If a new type of assessment task did not work the first time, then I changed it and tried the assessment task again. The original assignment may have produced a great learning experience rather than a valid assessment task for your students.

11. I shared my successes and failures with your peers.

This process became informal professional development for me and my colleagues. Sometimes a more experienced colleague would show me where I went wrong and how I could overcome the disaster in the future.

12. I would model out loud to my classes what I was really thinking about a problem while producing a solution to the problem on the board.

Sometimes I would stick with an approach I knew would fail. I didn’t call it a failure, but a learning experience for my students. Being a “perfect” problem solver often discourages students who think they can’t match what you do. More often than not, I included, in my modeling, whatever ideas came to mind that I rejected. I explained why I rejected these ideas. I would model as many different solutions or approaches as time allowed. If a student found a different but mathematically correct solution, I would have them pass it on to the class.

13. I challenged myself to help students come to math lessons.

I have tried to create a personal mindset that helps me develop lessons that I enjoy delivering to my students. That meant I wanted to be there too.

14. I have incorporated the use of graphing calculators and computer software as often as possible.

Students today are computer users. They relate well to technology. The beauty of technology is that the teacher can visually demonstrate many examples of what is being discussed using computer software or graphing calculator applications projected on a screen. Understanding comes faster than the pen-on-paper strategies of the past.

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