Positive Norms to Encourage in the Classroom

More great stuff from Jo Boaler at youcubed.org. I’ve been following Jo avidly since taking her amazing online class “How to Learn Math” from Stanford University. The class is free.

Recently they added a poster listing seven positive messages and norms for the math classroom. If you’d like to put it up in yours, you can download it in PDF here.

Download (PDF, Unknown)

1. Everyone Can Learn Math to the Highest Levels.
Encourage students to believe in themselves. There is no such thing as a “math” person. Everyone can reach the highest levels they want to, with hard work.

2. Mistakes are Valuable
Mistakes grow your brain! It is good to struggle and make mistakes.

3. Questions are Really Important
Always ask questions, always answer ques- tions. Ask yourself: why does that make sense?

4. Math is about Creativity and Making Sense
Math is a very creative subject that is, at its core, about visualizing patterns and creating solution paths that others can see, discuss and critique.

5. Math is about Connections and Communicating
Math is a connected subject, and a form of communication. Represent math in different forms eg words, a picture, a graph, an equation, and link them. Color code!

6. Depth is much more Important than Speed
Top mathematicians, such as Laurent Schwartz, think slowly and deeply.

7. Math Class is about Learning not Performing
Math is a growth subject, it takes time to learn and it is all about effort.



How to Save Your Neurons

A blast from the past March 2009 Scientific American article by Tracy Shors provides a rebuttal to the somewhat common misconception that the brain does not create new neurons. It does – thousands every day. Don’t get too excited, though. If you don’t cognitively exercise these baby neurons, they will disappear within just a few weeks. Article is linked above, but unfortunately there’s a pay wall. I recommend springing for the subscription. It could be your first step in raising a whole new batch of thinker cells.

How to Save Neurons
How to Save Neurons

“Fresh neurons arise in the brain every day… Recent work, albeit mostly in rats, indicates that learning enhances the survival of new neurons in the adult brain. And the more engaging and challenging the problem, the greater the number of neurons that stick around. These neurons are then presumably available to aid in situations that tax the mind. It seems, then, that a mental workout can buff up the brain, much as physical exercise builds up the body…”