My Philosophy On Math Pedagogy, And Other Tidbits [Edutopia]

Jose Vilson Mr. Vilson 1 Comment

Here’s an excerpt from my latest at Edutopia (including a diss on Robert Marzano and the like). It’s about engaging math teachers:

Keep This Rule of Thumb: Complete, Consistent, Correct

By “complete, consistent, correct,” I mean we should allow multiple pathways to a correct answer that a) allow for full understanding of a given procedure, b) can be used time and again without fail, and c) actually have a sound basis in math. While it sounds constricting, it removes some of the limitations we’ve set for ourselves when looking at student work.

For instance, when finding 25% of 80, the most basic thing we can do is turn the percent into a decimal (0.25) and multiply that decimal by 80. The result is 20. Yet when I presented this problem to a seventh grade class just learning this, one of the students astutely observed that 10% of 80 is 8, and 25% is just 10% + 10% + 5%. They doubled 8 (16), then took half of 8 (4), and added the results (16 + 4 = 20).

Some teachers might mark that incorrect because it doesn’t follow the exact procedure they asked for, but we really should accept such a response fully, not just because of the answer, but because the procedure the student used works time and again.

Read more here. Share with your friends. Comment. Thanks!

Mr. Vilson, who wants Friday to be over already, and it’s only Thursday …

About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

Comments 1

  1. pissedoffteacher

    That is the kind of thinking we should inspire students to do. You accept and encourage it because it shows thought and real understanding. I worked with a man who would not accept any answers unless they were done the Barron’s book way. I felt sorry for his students. Yours are fortunate.

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