DERRY — Helping teachers prepare students to become more proficient in mathematics and apply the concepts to real-world problems was the focus of a workshop Wednesday at Pinkerton Academy.
High school and middle school teachers throughout the Granite State gathered for the “Teaching to the Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice” Institute workshop. The two-day series began Tuesday, said Chip Underhill, Pinkerton’s executive director of public relations and external affairs.
Training was provided by Amy Lucenta and Bowen Kerins, both from the Educational Development Center, based in Waltham, Mass.
Chris Harper, dean of academic affairs for Pinkerton, served as host and coordinator. In today’s high-tech society, math is being used on a daily basis, Harper said. And so, teachers are being called on to help students learn to apply mathematical concepts to everyday problems.
“This is a monumental change; this is a whole sea change in terms of the way mathematics has been taught,” Harper said. “And so, we are re-educating teachers in terms of how do we do the mathematics because they are very used to the old routine.”
Harper said teachers grew up learning math through practices like memorization and taking tests. They then learned to teach math in that same style and continue to teach in that style, he said.
And it’s a lot to ask of teachers to suddenly change to teaching students to delve into problems and then apply the solutions. That’s why workshops like the ones held at Pinkerton are being offered to teachers in the Granite State, Harper said.
Like other teachers, Harper said he excelled in memorizing math concepts and did well on tests. But it was only in his senior year of high school when he took a math class tied to a physics course that he found he could apply the concepts to physics and real world problems.
“And that was a lightbulb that went off,” Harper said. “A lot of kids don’t get to that point where they see the lightbulb.”
Today, teachers need to strive to help students find where they can apply the concepts of geometry, or Algebra 1 or Algebra 2 to everyday problems, Harper said.