- Middle School
by Louise Jackson, Middle School Math Teacher
As a Middle School and High School Math Teacher for over thirty years, my favorite teaching moments have usually occurred while acting as a mentor to students involved in project-based learning. I love the energy in the room as students generate ideas in response to real-world design projects. They become increasingly engaged as they work to problem-solve. And the challenges they face motivate them to learn more and more math because it is needed for their design or engineering! Some of the math and physics principles may be over their heads, but that is okay. Their interests are sparked, they work hard, they experiment. They may fail and start all over again. They learn to persevere, to collaborate, and to handle both rejection and acceptance of their ideas.
I have provided project-based learning opportunities for students to build a house of the future, make a marina more energy efficient, study earthquake data to inspire earthquake-proof house designs, and create special effects for our school play. These projects force cross-disciplinary studies where math and science blend in engineering, art, and technology and give relevance to each craft.
Whether it is solving a problem on campus or trying to help a local business, students start to “buy in” to the less intriguing aspects of mathematics lessons because they realize that they need the skills, concepts or principles for future jobs. As a teacher, my main goal is to help my students realize their potential and their strengths and to provide “the hook.” If I can inspire, they can imagine.