What We Learned About Mathematical Thinking
Using our Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast theme, “Remarkable Relationships”, Dana Shackelford was able to share how this relates to mathematics. Mrs. Shackelford is our Middle School 6th grade mathematics and 8th grade Algebra teacher, who just happens to have an engineering background per her BSEE degree from the University of Colorado, Denver and working in the area of Flight Controls at both Martin Marietta and General Dynamics. Suffice it to say, we learned a lot at the Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast!
My biggest take-away was this: In order to help children develop mathematical thinking, we need to talk to them in ways that incorporate mathematical language. For instance, when two events are related to each other, especially when one depends on the other, the mathematical term, “function”, can be used. So, instead of responding to a plea from a child to go to the beach to play with “We’ll go sometime this afternoon, “ say, “The amount of time we have to spend at the beach is a function of how long it takes for you to pick up your toys and help me finish cleaning the kitchen. The longer it takes, the later we will leave and the less time we will have to spend there!” Mrs. Shackelford admits this sounds “nerdy”, but it incorporates teaching quantitative reasoning related to measuring time in a day-to-day, real-life way.
She, admittedly, could go on and on like this. Having raised three children and sending all of them through 8th grade at Warren-Walker School, and then teaching for 15 years, she has managed to clarify math instruction, to the point that she has written her own text for 6th grade mathematics. Her dedication and commitment to the students of WWS have made a big difference and are very much appreciated!