Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Not My Job ... Or Is It?

With a change in location and employment comes the return of an old idea. It's not universal among math teachers—I hope it's not common for even a majority of teachers. But every once in a while, I hear something along these lines:

"It's math class. I don't do English."

I just came from a school with the philosophy that every teacher is a language arts teacher. (Honestly, to such a degree that it could be a pain sometimes ... but a necessary pain.) Other schools likely feel the same way to one degree or another. But not all teachers buy into that.

Does it mean docking points when the math is all correct but there are spelling or grammar errors? No, I don't think so. What, then?

As writers (and particularly YA writers), many of us have considered how our books might be read and used in schools. Visions of curriculum guides, worksheets, projects, discussions ... almost all in English class, right?

How could other teachers use our books? Historical fiction could tie into social studies classes. Science fiction might work in some science classes, at least in portions. But what could teachers do beyond straight-up reading assignments to encourage both interest and skill in reading and writing?

A few things I've done:

  • When a new, strange word comes up, take a few seconds to discuss it ... even if it's not a "vocabulary" word for my unit.
  • Have students do small writing assignments to explain their thinking. I encourage clarity and completeness, and while I don't mark off for grammar errors, I give little nudges.
  • TALK ABOUT BOOKS. Just because it's math class doesn't mean I don't have moments here and there to talk about what I'm reading, what students are reading, what they think of the last book in one trilogy or another, etc.
Okay, I need more ideas. What have you guys got?

1 comment:

wljennings said...

Well, hmm... this is a tough one. But I think the best way I have ever heard it put Is: "Poetry must supersede Mathematics In science." By inference poetry must also supersede mathematics in mathematics.
My best approximation of this is that the human mind is not a logical machine but an asset of a creative being and that there are no rules of logic that describe a creative break through. By definition a creative break through must upset a pillar of some existing logical system and so mathematics in its quest to deny ambiguity tends to self destruction.
The great mathematicians are really poets at heart, they see and are drawn to the beauty combined with a painful, for me, rigor. Spoken language is rich in ambiguity and thus allows the student’s creative mind to access the break through rather those rules of logic, the dead rules. Math then lives, as is its intent.