Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Look it up!

Computer, Macbook, Tablet, Editing  I've been reading quite a few books in which the author states that it is fine for students to look up the information they need to answer what ever question you pose.

I've recently tried it in my classroom.  For instance, I asked for the volume of a rectangular prism in Geometry.  When students asked me about the formula, I told them to look it up.

It is in their notes but they are more likely to look it up than refer to their notes.  In addition, I can ask a question such as how are inverse functions used in real life.  They can find the answer.

If we look at the world out there, it is no longer factory based.  It has become more digital and we use the internet to find things.  I use it to find videos to use in class, worksheets and problems which are in digital form which can be posted. 

So is this a skill we should be cultivating in the Math classroom?  Will it help students develop number sense, especially if they rely on an assortment of on-line calculators to do the work? 

I fight with letting them use a calculator to find the answer vs one which shows the steps of how the answer came about.  My personal belief is if they see how it is done, they might develop enough sense to know their answer is close to right or not.  Most of my students feel that if they put numbers in, the answer is automatically correct even when they put in a wrong number. They are often startled when I look at an answer and tell them, they made a mistake.

They want to take every answer and have it in either whole or decimal form.  I am not sure how to impress them with the idea of needing an exact answer vs an approximation.  In real life, we do not often say a circle has a circumference of 3pi.  We usually say its about 3.42 inches, feet, or which ever unit it is.

Is it important to be that precise for most people in today's society?  I know in some fields, yes but for most people?  I struggle with it because most of my students will not ever need to be as precise.  I think it is important to teach students to be more independent learners who are capable of finding and learning information off the internet, even in math. 

Most of us, unless we use the math ever day, have to look up a formula or how to apply a formula to a situation. I think this is the skill we have to teach even if we teach traditional math. 

I'd love to hear from you with your thoughts on this topic.  Thank you for reading.