Timothy Kelly is a mathematics teacher at the Department of Defense Education Activity, Baumholder Middle-High School, and a recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.
Let’s take a minute to imagine your Algebra I classroom back in high school. There is a lecture in progress at the chalkboard or perhaps at an overhead projector. Students are arranged in rows and the routine has been clearly established. The teacher is progressing through the textbook in preparation for the chapter test or semester exam.
Sound familiar? This scenario was the accepted form of instructional delivery for much of the 20th century. Students that couldn’t handle this environment were sent down to “consumer math.” If your recollection is similar to mine, scores of great teachers used this model and were successful in their time. But that was back then, and times were different.
The reality of the modern classroom is that we now need to prepare our students for new types of jobs, some of which have yet to be created. (Imagine writing that lesson plan!) Meanwhile, many of the traditional careers are being outsourced overseas to save money. To be successful, students will need to be both digitally and globally competent with skills that cannot be outsourced. And let’s not forget about creativity! Can you imagine a student in your Algebra class telling the teacher her career goals included making applications for the latest popular Smartphone?