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Running head: TEACHING MATH TO PREPARE FOR PRACTICAL USE 1

Teaching Math to Prepare for Practical Use

Brittini Wade

November 9, 2018

National University
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Abstract

This is a summary of an article found in the Mathematics Teaching in Middle School journal that

discusses how to empower students through modeling. I use my knowledge of the Standards of

Mathematical Practices, Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, and

the use of STEM within the classroom to reflect on their chosen methods.
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Introduction

Often times in a middle school math classroom, students enter with a big range of skills.

Teachers have the important task of using relevant problems that have varying degrees of chal-

lenges. The diversity of learners in the classroom requires teachers to use a variety of strategies

that allows the students to use their prior knowledge to hopefully build advanced strategies and

become efficient problem solvers. Students want the math lessons they are learning to be practi-

cal and useful. It is the teacher’s job to make sure they are designing lessons with this in mind.

Empowering Mathematicians through Modeling, is an article by Lisa Poling, Nirma

Naresh, and Tracy Goodson-Espy that discusses how real-life scenarios help bridge the gap be-

tween critical mathematics education and mathematical modeling.

Summary

Part of the Common Core State Standards emphasizes modeling as a practical application

for students to engage in problems with varying levels of difficulty. The modeling framework

consists of the mathematical content, interpretation of the results, formulating results, problem

solving, problem defending, and problem posing. “Students must understand that models can be

developed, revised, and reapplied within a context. One may focus on modeling as content, em-

phasizing development of mathematical competencies that are necessary to model a phe-

nomenon” (Poling, Naresh, & Goodson-Espy, pg. 140). The practical uses of the modeling ap-

proach are empowering learners to use the elements of: “communal knowledge to frame prob-

lems that are central to their lived experiences, classical knowledge to develop mathematical
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competencies, and critical knowledge to gain a comprehensive understanding of the sociopoliti-

cal context for the problem” (Poling, Naresh, & Goodson-Espy, pg. 140). Modeling mathemati-

cal problems helps students improve their problem solving performance and to enhance their

skills to address and discern problems that they encounter in their daily life.

Teachers should improve their access and understanding regarding modeling in the class-

room. Often times teachers are hesitant or perceive the practical uses of modeling incorrectly.

This article demonstrates how to blend modeling with critical math and empower students

through critical analysis. Two teachers were asked to identify members of a profession in a real-

life scenario that are usually not associated with mathematics. They created instructional activi-

ties that focused on the use of modeling that were appropriate for their students. The Standards of

Mathematical Practice and Common Core State Standards were used in their design and imple-

mentation of their lesson along with incorporating the 4C’s.

Example #1/Critique

The first modeling task that was designed started in the school cafeteria with a lunch

menu task. The teacher posed the problem of having students create a lunch menu and figure out

how much of each food type the lunch lady would have to prepare. Students had to develop a

plan, formulate results, and revise their plan. They made three revisions and modeled all of their

thinking. Students were using fractions and mixed numbers to calculate serving sizes in a mean-

ingful context and applying the CCSS, SMP 4-Model with mathematics, SMP 2-Reason abstract-
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ly and quantitatively. Students had to present their solutions and answer the questions and solu-

tions posed by their classmates.

Not only does this type of mathematics lesson incorporates the 4 C’s and follow the stan-

dards, it has a great connection with STEM. It focused on a real-world problem and had students

engage in decisions that are student-generated. It also had them define the problem, conduct

background research, develop and test their ideas, and then evaluate and redesign them. They

were also building teamwork skills. This lesson showcased a practical mathematical concept that

incorporated the MPs and the use of modeling as well as connecting it with STEM.

Example #2/Critique

The next lesson that was designed incorporated calculating distances. A truck driver is

required to deliver iPhones to three cities. The students were to find the shortest route that he

could take, how long it would take, and if he would meet the deadline for the release date of the

new iPhone. Initially, the students just used mere computation. In order to create a more purpose-

ful discussion, the teacher posed various questions to get the students thinking and collaborating

even more. They had to model their thinking by drawing the different routes they came up with

on maps and used a table to justify their thinking. The students followed the CCSS modeling

framework by “making sense of the situation; determining given and needed information; mak-

ing assumptions; developing mathematical representations, such as tables, equations, formulas,

and charts, and using them to find a solution; interpreting the results in the context; and valida-
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tion their findings” (Poling, Naresh, & Goodson-Espy, pg. 144). The use of modeling helped play

an important part for the students’ successfulness.

The interactions of community, classical knowledge, and critical knowledge were ex-

tremely important in developing this modeling task. In order to be successful in designing a

modeling task within the math classroom, teachers must play the role of facilitators and know

what the right questions are to ask and to allow students ample time to gather additional informa-

tion as needed.

Conclusion

Math teachers have the challenging task of creating lessons that not only follow the

CCSS and MPs, but also trying to align them to have a STEM connection. Hopefully, if done

correctly, these lessons will be practical and empowering for students. Trying to have the stu-

dents become efficient problem solvers by posing tasks that are challenging is a difficult task for

teachers. The use of modeling within the classroom is an integral part of the learning process. It

allows for the students to describe their mathematical ideas while showing their creativity and

collaboration skills. Teaching in a way that incorporates real-world situations, engages students

in purposeful teamwork, and being able to communicate their results is a great way to connect

lessons with STEM. These two examples provided showcased this concept along with various

ways to incorporate modeling within the middle school classroom.


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References

Poling, L., Naresh, N., & Goodson-Espy, T. (2018). Empowering Mathematicians through Mod

eling. Mathematics Teaching in Middle School, 24(3), 138-146. Retrieved November 9,

2018.