So i’m new at this blogging thing and just got myself involved in the MTBoS recently. This is my first post, and I know I was supposed to follow Shah’s prompt, but I started talking today about a question I had that led to a teachable moment and got excited enough to post about it.
First off, my name is Hunter, I teach 8th grade math, and I am by no means a professor. I used to have my students call me by a different name every week (depending on what I wanted to be — Jedi Patton and Post Master Inspector General Patton was my favorite) and professor stuck because the students liked the alliteration. I’m in my 6th year of teaching and to be honest, with the curriculum change, this year has made me question what I do.
In my Algebra 2 class we are working on parent functions so that students can place a set of data in the correct family, model its behavior, and use that to make accurate predictions. We were working on a problem about wave height and wind speed. — One of the last questions is “Why might comparing wave height and wind speed lead to inaccurate results?” – The places this question led us was awesome. We got in to correlation coefficients, underlying causation, does more than just wind speed create waves. I had students wondering does temperature cause larger waves since Hawaii has large waves. I got to talk about tsunami’s and energy transfer. Why we don’t see tsunami’s when they are further off in the ocean. Why do Earthquakes cause large waves. Does a butterfly’s wings in Japan cause a HUGE wave here in the States? Why the graph “bends down and starts to flatten”. Would a linear graph be an accurate predictor? How energy needed for a large wave is much greater than energy needed for a small wave. A co-teacher of mine happens to be an avid surfer and was able to answer the questions I couldn’t (like why Hawaii has larger waves). I had them excited about a problem for parent functions and eventually was able to tie it all back into what our objective was.
Anyway, this got me thinking about how teachable moments are missed EVERYDAY by teachers. Our conversation included very little about parent functions, but I had the students excited to learn and engaged in an intelligent, thoughtful conversation. And by the end of the lesson we covered everything needed for parent functions. I try to take every teachable moment I can and teach them about ANYTHING. Life, math, science, myself, etc. In the long run, I find teaching them about anything makes them more excited to learn anything. It kind of put teaching into perspective. Find a way to teach a topic that will force students to “create” a teachable moment for you.