Source: Tedx Talks, 2014; Speaker- Dr. Randy Palisoc
Popularity: 2,742,249 views (March 27, 2022)
In this video, Dr. Randy Palisoc introduces a more effective approach to teaching mathematics: teaching it as a human language. Especially for young children, math can be an incredibly challenging subject to learn, and Dr. Palisoc states that this is due to the fact that it is taught in a dehumanized way. By incorporating words into mathematical concepts, children are taught to think of math in a way that makes sense to them by involving a language that they already know and understand.
Dr. Palisoc believes that math should be more intuitive than it is, but we have deconstructed it and made it more abstract than it needs to be, when it is really just meant to explain the world around us. It is important to make math as simple to understand as possible for children, so that they are better able to understand more difficult math concepts when they get older. Putting words back into math lessons allows children to comprehend complex concepts that are traditionally thought of as abstract and difficult to understand. So, instead of teaching 1 + 2= 3, it is more effective to teach 1 apple + 2 apples= 3 apples, so that students can later more easily understand ⅕ + ⅖= ⅗ as 1 fifth + 2 fifths= 3 fifths. According to Dr. Palisoc, “math is a human language, so we all have the ability to understand it.”
Watch this You Tube video to help incorporate writing into your math class or activities.
In this video, students at Concord Village Elementary in New York take an approach to math that involves reading and writing; although it may seem untraditional, the “problem-solving procedure” has helped students learn math more effectively and thoroughly and gives teachers insight into their students’ mathematical thinking processes. The problem-solving procedure consists of five steps: (1) Understand the problem by reading and annotating it, (2) Think of strategies to use to work through the problem, (3) Solve the problem using the math strategies, (4) Describe the process using math language, and (5) Share connections, patterns, and observations with classmates.
Making “What I Know” charts or “I Have To” statements (in which they outline the information given and possible approaches) in the first step helps students solidify the intent of the problem. Similarly, making “I will” statements to state how they will solve it in the second steps makes them more confident in their plan, and working collaboratively with their peers to solve the problem introduces them to different approaches and ways of thinking. The procedure is intended to encourage students to think more critically by analyzing, contributing, and communicating their ideas; they are encouraged to “make thinking visible.” It also helps them organize their thought processes and guide teachers through it, so that they know their students’ strengths and weaknesses as mathematicians. Inevitably, this approach also improves reading and writing skills. The effectiveness of reading and writing in math is clear: using this strategy, 88% of students scored advanced or proficient scores on the New York state exams in both math and English language arts (40 points higher than the citywide average).