Marget Mullally takes a new and different approach to teaching her twelfth-grade students the materials in her College Algebra course.
Ms. Mullally teaches her students using mostly problem sheets that are complete of almost all word problems. Word problems have presented themselves to students as some of the hardest problems to tackle.
When asked why she uses primarily word problems, Ms. Mullallly stated, “It’s something they are not used to working with, breaking down the problem; most students dread doing this.” She described that the ability to solve word problems are “the most applicable of the skills you are taught in any math course.”
Ms. Mullally is teaching her students math through word problems to push them into tackling problems that they normally would not be comfortable with. And also by breaking down the word problems, students develop a much more complex and better understanding of the material at hand.
Ms. Mullally believes that word problems are also the most applicable to real life. By familiarizing her students with word problems, she is exposing them to how math is applied in their everyday lives.
Ms. Mullally likes to have an interactive class and associate with every student. She will rarely lecture because she would rather have a class discussion to figure out strategies to solve problems.
Leaving the class to work amongst themselves and to help one another out allows her to work one-on-one with a student who is struggling with the latest concept. Or, when one student understands and solves a problem, but the rest are struggling, the student will teach the rest of the class how to do it.
“Math is a universal language; your job as a mathematically literate person is to communicate your thoughts and ideas,” Ms. Mullally described. She teaches her students math as a language rather than a series of equations and graphs.
When asked what she wants her students to take away from her class, Ms. Mullally responded, “Confidence, and the joy of the journey of problem-solving; confidence that they can tackle any problem put in front of them and the ability to collaborate with any classmate on any given day.”
Ms. Mullallys’ goal is not just only to teach her students math but to shape them as people and help them better understand the world around them.