Friday, June 19, 2009

Fred the Math Teacher

I suck at math. Always have. I never thought I was smart enough to learn math.

This would be different if I had Fred the Math Teacher.

Fred is FRIDAY'S POST 2009 pick for Teacher of the Year. Here's why: Every day, Fred uploads his lessons (via smartboard video/audio) to a website for his students to watch and take notes from each night (to keep 'em honest, he checks notebooks every morning to make sure kids were watching him and not some reality TV show about desperate husbands and housewives somewhere).

Then -- and here's where the genius of Fred comes to life -- Fred and his kids do homework together in the classroom every day. He says it's simply amazing to see how much kids will talk about math concepts in detail (i.e. as a community) when he lets them watch lessons at night on the web and then work on problems the next day together in class.

Fred (who teaches at Benilde-St.Margarets School near Minneapolis; says his purpose and goal is to get kids to better communicate together about math.


When's the last time you ever heard an American who had that purpose and goal? Fred says kids in the US think you need to be really smart to be good at math. He says that's opposite of kids in places like China and India who believe being good at math means you just need to work hard (which is what Fred believes too).

So Fred's approach in his classroom is to get his kids engaged in the subject by letting them communicate more when it comes time to do homework. This means Fred lets his kids talk in class the whole time (how great would that have been back in the day).

He says ''I feel like I'm teaching more instead of just sitting behind my desk. I'm bouncing around the room actually building relationships with the kids.''

As for the students, Fred says they are getting the concepts behind math (not just looking for the quickest route to the answers); they are asking better questions; they aren't afraid or ashamed to ask for help when they get stuck; and best of all, they're enjoying math while working harder on it.

Fred is a hero for inventing "math-lessons-on-the-web-at-night-and-homework-during-the- class-hour." He's taken math class and turned it into an engaged community experience.

What would happen in America today if every teacher taught like Fred the Math Teacher? And what would happen if schools got rid of Math Class and replaced it with Math Community?

I'm liking America's chances in the globalized 21st Century with teachers and classroom community leaders like Fred the Math Teacher.


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1 comment:

  1. Tim - what an incredible idea demonstrating the power of digital media. This simply wasn't possible even a few years ago. Sometimes there are innovations just waiting to be discovered right in front of us. The trick is to be looking for them.