Returning from the AMS Conference in D.C.

I just returned from the AMS conference in Washington D.C. GWI and the Math Institute had a booth set up in the (massive!) vendor hall promoting and discussing current programs and what them math institute will soon be able to offer. It was great to meet so many amazing practitioners at all levels. I was surprised by how many elementary teachers had an interest in the materials that were for adolescents. I think they were interested to see both what extensions of the elementary work are possible as well as where the work that they are doing can lead. People really loved the Law of Cosines insets that we had made thinking that they were just the Pythagorean inset until they realized it was not a right triangle but an acute triangle (hence today’s photo). So much fun.

One thing several people asked me was how my curriculum (like use of the algebra tiles) was different than other programs. My two answer to that are 1) is that they are connected purposefully to the work of the elementary, and 2) it is within the overall methodology of the classroom that they are being used that makes them different. Everyone wants student-centered learning and individualization, but making that happen is challenging. What I love that Montessori provides is an entire structure within which those things can happen. The materials are not just didactic, but truly allow students to explore and discover, which is what we all want. But too often we don’t have the classroom set-up that allows that to happen. By having choice and freedom within a carefully guided environment provided by the adult, it is amazing to see what students can do independent of the adult.

Michael Waski