Taking the mystery out of math is one of the objectives for a group of teachers who are seeking to improve the quality of their instruction and engage students.
“There is continual research done on how we learn, how we best think,” said Donna Kirk, director of the Improving Teacher Quality workshop and math instructor at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota. She believes that how those things are done “is a moving target.”
Teachers are finding today that the traditional method of talking at students from the front of the class is not the most effective way to teach for an entire class period. With subjects like math, students benefit from hands on, visual and collaborative work, and creative thinking.
“My kids are at white board tables of four,” said Ordean East Middle School math teacher Jane Juten. “They work together. If they get it wrong, they can go to another team. If that doesn’t work, they come to me. … I say to my kids, there are a lot of teachers in this classroom. I am only one of them.”
St. Scholastica received a $45,000 grant from the Minnesota Office of Higher Education to provide the workshop for free to teachers from the Duluth school district and the Catholic Diocese of Duluth’s Stella Maris Academy. Teachers also received a stipend and either a Chromebook or iPad for classrooms.