A Nod to Teaching Math

Happy New School Year!

Over the last two years, my process of professional growth has been informed most directly by working with Powerful Learning Practice (PLP) as part of a school-based team. PLP develops cohorts of teacher-leaders and challenges us to consider the implications of Web 2.0 technology for teaching and learning. The work has been transformative for my personal teaching practice, and I like to believe that our school’s team has created ripple effects that continue to influence teaching and learning across our entire school. Effective use of 21st century technologies remains at the center of this effort: encouraging students to solve authentic problems, to collaborate with purpose, to create new ideas, and to communicate for a global audience.

I was watching a friend teach math through his open door earlier this week, and I got to thinking about the concept of “spiraling” as it relates to curriculum design. As many of us know, “spiraling” is a notion, developed by Harvard psychologist Jerome Bruner, that curriculum should “revisit basic ideas repeatedly, building upon them until the student has grasped the full formal apparatus that goes with them” (The Process of Education, 1960: 13).

My friends in math seem to have embraced the concept of spiraling and built spiraling into their math curricula in ways that I might like to emulate this year. Check out this Toyota Venza commerical , for example. A young person sits with her computer and “builds relationships” through Facebook; meanwhile, her parents are meeting up with other adults to go mountain biking… I particularly enjoy the young woman’s facial expressions (dripping with irony) when she describes her parents as ‘anti-social’ because they only have 19 Facebook friends.

The commercial reminds me to spiral back to a powerful, basic idea: building strong, healthy relationships with students – through our face-to-face interactions each day – remains at the center of effective teaching.

Source: Smith, M.K. (2002) ‘Jerome S. Bruner and the process of education’, the encyclopedia of informal education http://www.infed.org/thinkers/bruner.htm.

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About Dr. Ostroff

Head of Upper School at The Emery/Weiner School in Houston, TX
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One Response to A Nod to Teaching Math

  1. europa.eu says:

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