I still felt this melting pot of emotions at the beginning of every new class from grade school through college. My thoughts each year transitioned from “which of my friends are going to be in my class” to “what is the teacher going to be like?” Students learn very quickly that it is not so much the subject of the class, it is WHO is teaching the class. Not only do teachers share their knowledge on subjects, they also (and probably more importantly) help to mold a student’s attitude and thoughts about his or her own confidence, motivation to learn and determination to be filled with curiosity. I believe this starts day one, back in kindergarten or pre-school, when the young and innocent children first venture out and begin to learn from someone other than their own family. Teachers give new perspectives and shed new light on different topics and ideas. This is why teachers make such an impact on our lives, whether it is good or bad. Teachers are not only teaching a subject, they are the driving force behind the desire to never stop learning.

I am writing this to reach out and say “thank you” to all the amazing teachers I had from grade school to high school who inspired me and are one of the main reasons why I am who I am today. I often have people ask me if I was always good at math or if I have always loved math. I will say that I did always have an analytical brain and as a child I was bubbling with curiosity and wanted to know “why?” about everything. I know I drove my parents crazy during those early pre-Google years! Some people will say, “you just ‘get’ math.” I honestly do not believe that though, there have been plenty of other kids in my classes that “got it” way faster than I ever did and I had to work hard in my schooling to learn. I credit my mom working early with me, Sesame Street being the only children’s show we could get out on the ranch when I was little, but most importantly, I have my teachers to thank for where I am today and for the knowledge that I have about teaching mathematics.The essence of my own pedagogy stems from the teachers I had from grade school through high school.

I believe that a lot of people who say they “hate math” or just “aren’t good at math” either had a bad experience in a class, had a poor teacher (one who just had them try to memorize and taught to the test), or were once told that they were not good at math. Of course some people do understand it better than others, are just gifted in math, or learn it faster. However, I believe that everyone can learn math given enough time, patience and having a teacher who motivates them to stay determined to learn. Math confidence and ability starts early on, as early as Kindergarten. Grade school math is just as important as higher levels because it forms the foundation of math knowledge. If students have holes in their mathematical infrastructure, they will continue to struggle, have anxiety and stress over math.

I was fortunate to have incredible teachers (and not only in math) throughout the majority of my education. They challenged me, always made sure I turned in my best work and if I got discouraged with something, they did not give up on me. Their patience and effort to really help me understand and learn the concepts was incredible. If I made a mistake, they taught me what I did wrong instead of just marking it incorrect or having a computer grade it. They also made learning fun by being very interactive and visual. I was fortunate to only have a couple of instances where the teachers lacked this and did not leave me feeling fulfilled or confident in the classroom. In those classes, I soon “hated” that subject but thank goodness, I had enough amazing teachers around to not let this discourage me as I moved onto my next class.

I just wanted to write this to thank all of my amazing teachers from Estes Elementary, Marana Junior High and Marana High School. There is absolutely no way I would be where I was today if it were not for you. I hope this makes others out there realize how important their own teachers are and were to their own development. Thank you to: Mr. Ramon, Mrs. Bauer, Mrs. Lemke, Mrs. Arnt, Mrs. Bartch, Mrs. McClanahan, Mr. Lybeck, Mr. Miller, Mrs. Cirzan, Mr. Videbeck and many more!]]>

It is so hard to believe that there was a time where our only phones were ones in our homes that hung on the wall! For a long time, they only allowed you to only move a couple feet away to talk. The thought of being able to take a phone around with you seemed completely absurd and something that belonged in the futuristic movies of spaceships and gray buildings! However, soon after, the mobile phone was developed and it was huge (literally - it was so big)! I still remember my dad carrying around the big piece of plastic on a connector to his belt loop! Now our phones are not only super small, slim, and light, their capabilities and what they allow us to do is absolutely incredible. When I am driving somewhere new now, I can’t even imagine how I used to navigate without my smartphone and google maps. Ha ha, did anyone else used to print out the seven pages of directions and advertisements from Mapquest every time?Technology is continuing to grow and it is not going anywhere. No matter where you look now, someone’s head is down staring at a screen of a computer, tablet or smartphone. Our technology is continuing to get smaller and smaller and more and more powerful.

Even with how widespread technology is in our everyday life, there are plenty of areas that are still behind and living in the past. Technology in math education has greatly changed and increased over the past ten years. I finished college right in that window where many schools were starting to transition from paper/pencil traditional classes to students doing all assignments online. I remember the first time I was told that I would use an online course management system to teach, I was so baffled and confused. How do you teach math online? How do students learn to do math online? Now almost all courses have online components, there are thousands of math help websites, and I am even an online math tutor now myself! Students are so used to the colorful apps and interactive games that they constantly view on their smartphones, that as educators, we need to strive to math learning math as visual and interactive as possible.

The biggest areas that still lags behind in terms of technology is the graphing calculator. It is still as big as it was decades ago and still super expensive. There are tablets and computers that are as much as some graphing calculators now! With the increase in price in textbooks and cost of living, I have seen a huge decline in the number of students that can afford to purchase a graphing calculator. However, every college student will need a graphing calculator for at least one class to graduate!

That is where GraphLock comes in. It is an app that turns a user’s phone solely into a calculator. While in lockdown mode, it does not allow in any incoming calls or texts and a student cannot open any other apps. It is coming soon to the app store and students will be able to use it in testing environments - per school policy!

It is time that technology in math speed up and connect with that of the real world!

#matheducation #mathtechnology #graphlock #nevercarryacalculatoragain #mathbymal]]>

I remember going to a craft store with my mom when I was a little girl and dreaming of all the cool stuff I could create. I often would choose the things you could color in with the fuzzy edges that had images of everything from tigers to princesses. The best part was that it didn't matter if you went outside the lines, the black fuzz would cover it up! However, soon I started to find the painting section and found the paint by numbers canvases. Painting was so much more thrilling, the thought of accidentally getting paint all over the kitchen counter or spilling on the carpet! But thank goodness for those numbers. They told me EXACTLY which color to put where! It made it so easy and I did not even have to think! It told me to put red where it should be and blue in the sky. Each thing were a specific color and you had to match each specific space with the correct color. You could easily tell what it was going to be from the start, and I just filled in each space, one by one, with the correct color coded choice.

This "worked" for me as a type A child, just looking for perfection and approval from adults. "Oh good job, Mallory, you followed the directions correctly." It wasn't that I created anything on my own or allowed myself to even dip into my creative thinking. I merely followed the steps. But what if I got confused by the directions or simply messed up? What if there was one correct, black and white answer and I got mixed up? What if I completely lost the directions and didn't know which color went where? What if I had to complete the entire painting within a certain timeframe with no notes and no instructions? What would I do then?

In schools today, math is taught in a "pain by numbers" form and that is why so many students are struggling with test anxiety and retaining the information. Yes, math should be taught in steps (especially now, students are so visual that if you skip a step you will lose about 75% of them - more on that later). However, it should not be a plug and chug, memorize the steps and formulas to get the correct answer. That is why so many students are failing math. They are simply being taught to memorize each step but then they get into the testing atmosphere and forget which step to do when. If all you do is memorize the steps (or simply follow the paint by number instructions) how can you actually learn the material and build a foundation of the concepts.

The problem with math is that everything builds. All concepts relate to one another. Therefore if a student only memorizes the steps to "get by" on a test, how can we expect them to fully understand the material to move onto the next chapter and then eventually the next class?

The majority of us will not use math in our everyday lives, the only reason I do is because that is my profession. However, we will use problem solving skills, deductive reasoning and logic each and everyday. So if math builds these skills and we are trying to teach our kids to learn them by "paint by numbers" how well are we actually preparing them?

#math #matheducation #mathtechnology #graphlock #nevercarryacalculatoragain #mathbymal

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