Thursday, June 23, 2016

Seven: Know the Math Content

You will be able to teach math well if you know the content well.

Too often elementary school teachers don't have a solid foundation of math concept, knowledge, and skill, and realistically, for many educators, it's been some time since they studied math with depth and it's also likely that when you learned math you may have learned it mainly by memorization rather than deep, conceptual study, the kind of study we utilize with students today.

There are many paths to learning the content well in preparation for the school year.

One of my favorite teaching/learning vehicles is Khan Academy. I recommend that you get to know this platform well and do all the exercises associated with the grade level that you will teach in the year ahead. Khan Academy utilizes the latest research with regard to teaching and learning math and develops student understanding in a blended way using mathematical language, models, real-world problems, and many exercises. You may complete the whole grade level section during the summer or plan to complete each unit section prior to teaching that unit. Khan Academy is a terrific resource for teachers and students everywhere when it comes to deep understanding of math concept, knowledge, and skill. Even better, Khan Academy is free and accessible anywhere that you have a computer and WIFI.

Another way to learn the standards and content is to take a course at a local university. When the new standards were announced a few years ago, I signed up for a course right away and it was an awesome, collaborative way to gain expertise with regard to the standards.

Further there are multiple standards-based platforms online that help you to gain a firm understanding of all the standards and how to teach those standards, and system resources offer support too.

To know the content well prepares you well for the teaching and learning ahead. Summer is a great time to shore up content knowledge and skill. Once you gain expertise in the grade-level standards, its important to grow your knowledge of the foundation skills, concept, and knowledge leading up to your grade level and the mathematical content that your grade-level knowledge leads to--the multiple grade-level standards beyond the grade you teach.