Communicating Teaching and Learning with a Digital Math Twist

Image: Funky Functions math newsletter

Funky Functions math newsletter

Finding new ways to engage students presents an ongoing challenge for all good teachers.

High school math teacher Lorelle Govoni felt she was doing too much of the talking in her classes. She was looking for new ways to inspire students to take greater charge of their learning.

High school math teacher Lorelle Govoni.

High school math teacher Lorelle Govoni.

“I wanted students to investigate, learn, discover, and then teach. They had to choose what they wanted to learn in the curriculum,” Govoni said.

While attending the fall MassCUE conference, Govoni found an inspiration of her own. Seeing a co-presentation from a biology and Spanish teacher on communication provided the spark.

Adapting the idea of the digital newsletter to her math class provided Govoni a platform for achieving her teaching goal.

“I knew the students were capable and creative. And I felt that we were missing some of their creativity in the class,” added Govoni.

Using a newsletter format gives students a simple structure for demonstrating their learning. By simplifying the layout and structure choices, students can focus on the math.

In producing a newsletter, a student composes text, uploads pictures, and shows real-world applications for mathematical concepts. The student also creates a step-by-step tutorial video.

Govoni explained,”Videos have to be there. So that they teach, through a video, whatever the content was.”

“At the end of the newsletter, they’re required to add upcoming assessments and events. So it ends like a real newsletter,” Govoni said.

The most common tool used by Govoni’s students is Smore, but that tool is not required. Using Smore allows students to select from a variety of templates and designs that will showcase their math work, as this example.

Image: Solving Systems with 3 Equations newsletter

Solving Systems
with 3 Equations
math newsletter

The math teacher posts all student newsletters to the course site. The newsletters then become a review text for a unit. It is a clever twist on a digital tool that may not immediately be associated with a math class, but Govoni continues to look beyond her discipline for ideas and solutions.

The newsletter idea not only harnessed student creativity, it gives students the power to teach.

Students even send them to their parents, as well.

“I wanted to find a way to communicate with parents in a positive way, without it being directed by me,” said Govoni.

The math teacher could not be more delighted with her students’ work.

“Their love of math came through in their newsletters. Their creativity and passion for math came through. They are very proud of their newsletters,” exclaimed Govoni.

The examples are powerful evidence of student creativity and learning.

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