What are we doing wrong in teaching math learners?

In the traditional style of teaching, the teacher begins with notes on the board or a handout and speaks from lecture notes or more recently to a PowerPoint presentation.

The spoken words are in English, Spanish or French, at least on most of the continent north of Mexico, as are the written words.

As the pie chart below shows, using only words we reach a very small portion, (approximately 10%) of our intended audience.

The chart is based on data from California.

Challenge to Learning Chart Label Percentage of Learners
English Language Learners ELL 25%
Visual Learners Visual 30%
Language Learning Difficulties LDD 15%
Low Language Comprehension Low Comp 20%

Created with the HTML Table Generator

This encompasses fully 90% of the population and will almost certainly be higher in First Nations communities. Left are only 10% of the school population, linguistic learners, those that learn through words.


Data derived from the TEDx Orange Coast talk by Matthew Peterson. Click on the image to view the video.


When a teacher teaches mathematics, in reality they are addressing a very small part of the student population as this screen shot from the Matthew Peterson talk shows.


So, does the Spatial Temporal Math approach work?

Again, data from the U.S. suggests it does.


From the image above it seems that proficiency scores on standardized tests in the U.S. improve. How does this compare with other mathematics programs such as Jump! Math or programs offered through textbook publishing houses? How does this program which occurs in a virtual environment compare with actual tactile manipulatives?

For a wordless example of how the program works click on the image.


How applicable is U.S. standardized testing to a Canadian context or in First Nations schools?

And, how do we integrate a truly Aboriginal, culturally based program of mathematics with a spatial temporal approach?

I’ll try to grapple with these questions in future posts.


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