When teaching a pre-algebra course the distribution property for the first time, I had unique incident occur in my classroom. The students had been working to develop an understanding of the distribution property using whole numbers.
For example; 4(3+2) can be simplified by adding 3 and 2 together and then multiplying by 4 giving the result of 20. However, you can also use the distribution property to simplify the expression 4(3+2) by first distributing (multiplying the 4 to both the 3 and the 2) this simplifies to 12+8, which simplifies to 20.
After the students had been using the distribution property for the class hour, we came back together to try some more complex expressions. I asked the question which property should we use to simplify the expression. There was an overeager student that really wanted to answer the question. I went ahead and called of the student. I was so surprised to hear that the property we should use if the DISTRIBATION property. Needless to say I lost my students to a fit of laughter.
Distribation Property: when a student tries to answer a question too fast.
Ever since I can remember I have been a driven person. My parents still to this day comment on the anxiety I use to give them when I asked what we were going to do today. Come to find out I was not okay if they did not have a plan in place or decided to change the plan. My mentality has not changed much from when I was little. I still make plans and execute them. This has served me well in life and has helped me achieve my goals. As you can probably guess everyone does not have the same thoughts about planning and execution. I experienced two mathematics teachers during my freshman year that helped to shape me into who I am today.
My math teacher was unorganized and chose to run her class in “organized chaos.” The students in the class behaved well and there were very little problems but she provided very little order in her lessons. The biggest concern I had was that she only excepted problems to be solved in one way, her way. She came across as unprepared and inflexible to me, and frustration set in. Math which was one of my favorite subjects became one of my least favorite. I passed the class but was starting to feel like math was not going to be “my thing” anymore. Mind you this was my first experience with a teacher like this and I was ready to call it quits.
In the second semester of my freshman year, I took another math course with a different teacher. This math teacher not only had a plan in his lesson but showed the entire class multiple ways to solve each problem. He told us that we, as students, have options when solving problems. This class helped me to explore different strategies when solving problems which made the class more interesting. We were no longer looking for the right answer rather how many ways we could get to the right answer. This is when I started to see math as a puzzle that can be solved in multiple ways, starting with the edge pieces or the middle, with the same resulting picture.
My experience as a freshman in high school was what shaped me into the mathematics teacher I am today. I strive to provide my students with multiple strategies to complete problems. I also encourage them to explore and find other strategies to solve problems. I was given the opportunity to see that I could make multiple plans, execute those plans in multiple ways, and still each my goals. It is my hope that I can help my students to realize the same thing is possible for them.