The word “mathematics” is something that is dreaded by most students. It might even terrify you. As a math teacher, it is my intention to make students understand a very crucial point—Mathematics not only helps us to add or subtract numbers, but it also shows us that every problem has a solution. Yes, it is that simple! Being able to connect math to our lives makes learning mathematics effortless.
Our School and its Students:
I teach at the Government Higher Secondary School, Suthukeni, which is located in a rather pleasing environment; surrounded by green farms, there is even a river bed nearby. Most of the students of our school hail from a socio-economically backward class, and they find math uninteresting. Math can be fascinating for students only when they are involved in learning it. However, if students face so many problems at their homes, how can they be expected to be curious about math? Hence, I strongly believe that it is a teacher’s responsibility to kindle the interest of students towards math.
I teach math to the students of class 10. We, teachers, ensure that we do not detain our students in classes 8 and 9, since detention can often result in those students dropping out of school and ending up as child laborers. It, therefore, does not come as a surprise that many students are promoted to class 10 without having acquired the necessary subject proficiency. A student has to procure a minimum of 35 marks to pass in a subject in Class 10. There are a few topics in math, such as practical geometry and graphs, that help students to procure the passing mark easily. However, while teaching practical geometry, I have observed that my students struggle with the use of the protractor. Whenever I gave them the task to mark an angle of 110°, which is an obtuse angle, they end up constructing an angle of 70°, which is an acute angle. I have tried to explain the concept to my students in different ways. And, my students have told me that they understood it every time. But, they kept repeating their mistakes. This made me realize that my students have a gap in their basic understanding of the concept of an angle.
I used to be responsible for teaching students of classes 8 and 10 only. It was only last year that I was asked to teach the students of class 6 for the first time. In the curriculum, there was a topic pertaining to angles, in which there were only two simple concepts that needed to be covered—the types of angles and the types of triangles. It is quite possible to complete that topic in one period. However, I decided to devote more time to this topic in order to ensure that all my students understood the concept of angles. I began by teaching them the basic facts about an angle, which is a pair of rays inclined to each other. I thought this would be enough as an introduction to the topic since the students believed that they understood it. However, when I asked them to cite a few examples of where they might have observed angles, they struggled to answer. This clearly showed that the students found it difficult to correlate the concepts learnt in the classroom with their daily lives. To make them understand better, I folded my arms in different angles to help the students visualize the different types of angles that can be formed. I also gave a few examples, like that of the angles formed between the window and the frame, the corners of the blackboard and the tables. Following this, I asked the students to explain what they understood.
A student positioned two pens, perpendicular to each other, to show a right angle. Another student drew a clock on the board and showed that the 4 o’clock position in the clock forms an obtuse angle. A group of seven students came forward and stood in a straight line, telling me that they formed a straight angle. The last three students in the line stepped adjacent to the fourth student from the first group and formed a right angle. They made several other formations to make different angles. I was excited by the way in which they explained what they understood, and I appreciated their effort whole-heartedly. When I asked the students whether they would be able to spot different types of angles that they could see from their classroom, the students came up with many interesting examples, which are shown in the pictures below.
I later made the students do a project activity on angles. I put forth a condition that they should not use any stickers for the same. When I went through their work, I was astonished to see that they had done their projects in a creative and an attractive manner by using twigs, ice-cream sticks, clocks, and various other things. Some students showcased wonderful examples, such as obtuse angles formed by staircases, straight angles in floors, and right angles formed at the intersection of walls and floors. I was again pleasantly surprised during the parent–teacher meetings, when some parents shared that their children had taught them about angles by forming heaps of rice or folded dosa to show that those formed different angles.
I further conducted a quiz on the topic of angles. I was very happy to observe that the students were very eager to participate, which showed their newfound interest in math. Almost all the application-based questions that were asked were quite easily answered by them. The students assured me that they will never forget about angles. This further consolidated my belief that students are able to understand mathematics easily when they are involved in the subject.
Term: Term 3