Balancing Learning with Fun in Math

In my other teachable, history, I find it much easier to find interesting and applicable activities to do at the senior level. I also found that many senior students like chemistry classes because they enjoy performing lab activities and experiments. However, when I was in high school, almost all of the students in the senior math classes with me were taking them because they were required for their science/engineering programs in university. This poses the difficult scenario of students taking a class because they have to complete it to get where they want to in university, rather than to learn about math.

I believe that I will find it very difficult to strike a proper balance between ensuring students understand the material and are prepared for higher learning and creating a class where students have fun, work in groups, and generally enjoy learning math.

I have looked at a few educators in an attempt to see how they make math more interesting for senior students. One of the top examples is Jonathan Winn, who teaches math in San Diego. However, he mentioned that he taught math to students who would otherwise not be taking math, instead of students who are taking math because they have to as a prerequisite.

Math can be more more applicable, and hopefully enjoyable, in the college and workplace level courses because they are dealing with more concrete concepts and activities, such as calculating interest and realistic equations. If students see the validity in learning different math concepts, they will be more likely to participate in the learning process.

University level math courses are a different topic though. Some of the concepts are difficult for students to understand and the courses are designed for entering university. For example, the Ontario curriculum states that "the Grade 12 university preparation course Advanced Functions and Introductory Calculus is
designed for students intending to study university programs that will involve calculus." I figure that the best way for teachers to make this type of math more applicable for senior students is to show them a glimpse of how it is necessary for university level physics, chemistry, and biology programs. This may take a lot of effort, but I believe that if students can see where they will be needing their math skills in the future they will be more likely to appreciate and learn about it now.

If anyone has any tips for making math more life-applicable for senior students I would love to hear your suggestions.

Alexis Watson

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