- Inspired by the research of Simon Fraser University professor Peter Liljedahl, high school teacher Laura Wheeler reorganized her math instructional strategy to create a more dynamic learning experience for students, Edutopia reports.
- The three key pieces of the approach she took in building what Liljedahl has dubbed a "thinking classroom" include a foundation built on highly engaging problems, the use of random groups assigned via playing cards drawn by students as they enter the classroom and regular work on a variety of erasable vertical surfaces.
- These tactics are designed to encourage peer learning, stronger communication and perseverance, and Wheeler notes that adopting them is easy and requires little to no tech.
Most of us can probably think back on plenty of math classes that felt very much like the Charlie Brown classroom experience, in which a teacher is talking at us as we attempt to process the information and — wait, are they even speaking English anymore? This is through no fault of most instructors: Math is, in many respects, much more hands on than subjects such as history or social studies, dependent much more on continued practice and repetition than the memorization of facts.
And it's also an area where the U.S. lags compared to peer nations on international test scores.
Approaches in math and science that "flip" the traditional "sage on a stage" model of pedagogy and get students working during class, making mistakes and learning from them while a teacher is available to assist if needed, may be critical in closing those gaps. But perhaps more importantly, that approach also allows students to hone soft skills like teamwork and grit that are now in high demand among employers in a variety of fields.