Appreciating Discovery in Mathematics

Most students are unsettled by my “discovery” based style of teaching, at first.  However, once they let go of the way they have always done math, they really enjoy it.  I feel that they retain more, as my focus is never on memorizing formulas and procedures that are always quickly forgotten.  Well, maybe they don’t always retain more, but they seem to understand more of what they do retain.  We do use some formulas in my class, they are just not our first “go to”.  Formulas are what my students develop, individually and then as a class.  We only use formulas after we have investigated them, and understand them.

At the end of the year it is wonderful to see how much they appreciate this and feel that they understand the math they are doing!  I received a couple of lovely thank you notes from my freshmen, and other students wrote comments on my end of year survey as well.

Thank you so much for giving us context in math so we fully understand where things come from. No math teachers have done that for me.

Keep making us discover patterns, it helps us to think more in-depth.

Understand the WHY!!! just because productive struggle isn’t always fun doesn’t mean it isn’t helpful! it makes understanding and remembering concepts easier.

Thanks for a great year and challenging me to grow in this class!

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4 thoughts on “Appreciating Discovery in Mathematics

    • Over the year that term has received some negative press so I may have to stop using it, especially since this is the first year many kids do “discovery” math. Even with the “productive” word, all many people hear is struggle. But, we are working on that as a department!

  1. Yes! I teach Algebra 1 to advanced student (7th graders) and they have NEVER struggled before because their previous teachers told them exactly what to do! They are excellent robots and worker bees so it was quick and painless for them to get straight As without having to really think.

    Every year I have pushback from students which is fine. My issues have always been with parents who think I’m “this crazy teacher” because “I’m not really teaching”. It can be frustrating, but I know discovering the why is way more useful and important than having kids just memorize random formulas!

    Next year I’m moving up to 8th grade and I’ll be teaching Geometry (so psyched about this) and Algebra 1. Really want to get into blogging this coming year! Absolutely love yours and have gotten so many great ideas!!

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