My students need an exercise bike, ball tossing items could help (Catchwall, Smart Toss, and bean bags), with fitness dice.
My students face high crime rates that force them to often stay inside at home at the expense of exercise and interaction. I'd like to up physical activities through math lessons and add them to the STEM Carnival that our student council and I developed along with two other middle school teachers.
My students are fascinating to me.
They are handling puberty and individual challenges with inquisitiveness, mood swings and humor. They think, they challenge, and they seek to make sense of who they are and where they are going. They are usually very kind to each other and they are very protective. They like me. They study me and I study them. Generally, they take whatever I can give them with gratitude, love and kind smiles. They make my grueling job worth it.
Yet, they are confronted with daily challenges of living in a poverty-stricken part of our city. The crime rate is alarming in our area. It is typical to see an ambulance or police vehicle racing down our adjacent main street when we peer out our classroom window. Our school is a precious safe haven for them. However, they show an admirable sense of determination, grit and creative intelligence to navigate both their neighborhood and education on a daily basis.
Physical activity ties in with math because it is measurable and can be quantified. In my math class, my students learn a lot, but often it is through the unorthodox approaches that were created by me or my students. There is Basketball Math (answer the problem and shot free throw for points), American Idol Math (singing, poetry, rap). I have requested a variety of materials that will afford my students opportunities to play and thus make the math come alive.
Some items that I have requested: an exercise bike (calculate pacing); Catchwall (a target tossing game that I will use to select types of math problems to solve). I have also identified two innovative products that will grab their attention. One is Big Foot which function as devices that will give them the illusion of having giant feet to pounce and walk as they see fit (good for teaching ratios). The Fitness Dice call upon students to both calculate probability and do physical activity such as jumping jacks.
To my middle school students, my class is their fun zone for learning math in an engaging way.
They shout, cheer, laugh and have fun. My students generally achieve high academic success in math after they leave me. They work hard. But together we learn to enjoy learning through interaction, music, physical activity, sports and teamwork. My students and I will continue to develop games and activities that they like as they continue to push themselves to learn math through such vehicles.
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