Why are we learning this? Its worthless... - Every math teacher has heard this remark, but have you ever sat and thought about what the student is truly saying? If a student thinks theres no future worth to learning, you can kiss their engagement and learning levels goodbye.
Honestly, its easy to understand why a student may ask this question. The worth, or value, of state math standards is often hard to identify because so much of the content is geared towards recognizing and memorizing basic skills.
Increasing the Focus on 'College and Career Readiness'
Luckily, newly-written mathematics standards are beginning to turn their focus towards fostering college and career readiness, requiring more depth in understanding concepts and arming students with the critical thinking skills needed to go beyond recognition and memorization.
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS), Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), and many other state learning standards are moving towards providing students the necessary content mastery AND the 21st century life skills needed to become successful post K-12 citizens.
But, as your school or district may be finding out, returning post K-12 value to math education is no easy task. To help bridge the real-life application gap at your school/district, check if your math lesson plans have the following attributes:
- easy-to-understand connections between the basic math concepts and standards and the students community/environment
- engaging, interactive materials and activities that simulate and emulate real-life situations, decisions, and professions where math is used
- a means to assess understanding and progress of communication, collaboration, and critical thinking skills as they relate to your states math learning standards
- incorporation of digital resources and content to help students develop the tech skills that will be required in the post K-12 workplace
If you are finding inadequacies in those fields, there may be a need for restructurng your curriculums and lesson plans. However, this change is not as difficult as it seems. In fact, much of the advances in technology and educational resources allow you to bring deeper understanding and real-world value straight to your math students.
Providing Mathematics 'Career Readiness' with Digital Resources
Here are some great examples of how real-world skills can be taught via digital math education resources:
- Real-life Community and Learning Standards Connections - Cant take your students to real-life situation? Bring the real-world experiences to them! Digital resources, including YouTube videos, webinars, and blogs allow students to see into a workplace or situation instantly. They can speak to actual professionals, and learn more about expectations, communication, and why these people use math in the workplace.
- Heightened Engagement through Interactive and Fun Resources - You know it and I know it, todays students have a heightened engagement to digital resources. Why not use these tools to help promote the deeper dive of understanding required by new state standards? There are tons of great resources and Game-based Learning tools that simulate and portray the need for math skills, while also providing collaboration opportunities and problem-solving scenarios.
- Developing Communication, Collaboration, and Critical Thinking Skills - Interestingly, many schools are beginning to use non-educational programs like World of Warcraft (WOW) and Minecraft as problem-based learning tools! Now imagine students playing games that require them to talk to an environmental engineer about using proportions and ratios to measure levels of contamination in a river or to help pilots use multiplication with partial products to calculate runway length and navigation. These games exist today, believe it or not!
Its a very interesting time to be an educator. The importance of knowledge depth and career readiness is returning to focus, and technology increases now allow for both of these needs to be simultaneously addressed. Via EdTech resources, students are given better exposure to needed post-K12 math skills, while integrating and using technology every day. I don't know about you, but that kind of learning has some worth to me!