Teaching mathematics is a journey that presents its own set of challenges and rewards. One activity that I have incorporated into every semester since I began teaching is what I call “Math is Like…”
This exercise aims to tap into students’ creativity and reshape their perception of math from something rigid and uninteresting to a subject that offers endless possibilities and connections.
To begin the activity, I distribute Post-It notes to each student and instruct them to write down the phrase “Math is like…”.
This simple prompt serves as a starting point for their creative expressions. I also share examples from previous years to spark their imagination.
It’s crucial to emphasize that there are no right or wrong answers, as long as the responses remain appropriate for the classroom environment.
Unleashing Diverse Perspectives:
As students embark on their journey of self-expression, they unleash a myriad of thoughts and emotions through their “Math is Like…” statements. Some choose to inject humor into their descriptions, infusing math with laughter. Others reflect on past negative experiences or frustrations, seeking a fresh start. Additionally, there are those who offer insightful analogies, drawing connections between math and real-life situations. Allowing these diverse perspectives enables students to feel heard, understood, and acknowledged.
I have found that this activity gives students an opportunity to “air out” their past experiences with math. It allows them to express any preconceived notions or biases they may have developed and provides a fresh start for us to embark on a positive mathematical journey together.
As a teacher, I understand that my students come from diverse backgrounds in math, with varying levels of proficiency and different experiences. Some have had great experiences, finding joy and success in their mathematical endeavours, while others have faced challenges and setbacks. So I let them know that one of my goals this year is to help them change any negative beliefs they may hold about math and transform their experiences into positive ones.
Here are some “Math is Like…” statements that my students came up with. Looking at them, I realize I have my work cut out for me, but I’m excited for the challenge because each statement represents an opportunity to make a difference in these students’ mathematical journeys:
As I read through these statements, I’m both humbled and motivated by the task ahead. I am committed to nurturing a love for math in each student, helping them realize their potential and embracing the wonders of this beautiful subject. Together, we will rewrite their math stories and create a positive, empowering narrative for their future mathematical adventures.