Blogs » Learning in Freedom » Math Lab in My Home?


When I was in college future teachers were required to do practicum and observations in the local elementary schools. We were to spend time in different classrooms and observe the teachers and help out when asked. Every classroom was different and every teacher had a different style and approach to education.

I remember the teachers who started out the day with TAKS (?) worksheets and the ONE who had her second graders keep math journals. That’s right, I said “math journals” kept by children who were just learning to write.

I can’t remember who that math journaling teacher was but after teaching my own children at home I admire her. Not just because of the whole journaling idea or because she wasn’t relying solely on drill and kill but because writing about math forces you to think about math.

“Think about it” sounds so simplistic. To write about math you would have to translate one symbol system to another which would require much more brain power than simply memorizing and regurgitating. Imagine all the new connections that are formed in a brain when challenged to channel information through new and different routes.

That math journaling elementary teacher was on to something. I purchased a video course for pre-algebra, algebra, and algebra II and the first few units are “Mathematics as a Language” with lessons like “Mathematical Parts of Speech.” You guys know how “ding dong” I am so maybe this is old news to YOU - kinda like when I first discovered that the symbol for division, you know the little dash with the dot on top and bottom, was a representation of a fraction because a fraction is division just waiting to happen or is it vise versa?.... Who would have thought that your +, -, x, and division symbols were the "verbs" of math? I never conceptualized that back when I was in school struggling with math.

As I sit here planning (obviously procrastinating) our curriculum or course of study for next year I feel the need to do something different. I want to tackle math more like you should tackle science. Instead of focusing on kill and drill I want to set up a math lab in my home complete with lab reports in the form of math journals. All I have so far is a stack of Janice VanCleave’s books so I’m open to suggestions. HINT HINT

A math lab in my home...

I’m so glad I didn’t type “math” with an “e” instead of an “a” right there.

P.S. Don't get me wrong, I still want to break out Math-It and Muggins from time to time and maybe try to start the Algebra course with my daughter... still in the procrastination stage.


P.S. In my next post I'm going to include a few websites that we use here in my home to make math fun. I know, I know, "math" and "fun" shouldn't be included in the same sentence unless the word "not" is close by. That's what these sites are for.