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Day 30: Todd Clark, Teacher (Seaquam Secondary School)

October 18, 2012

I teach Math 11 A&W. It’s often a class consisting of disengaged math learners who have struggled for years with the basic structure of a math class.

This year I have challenged myself to find ways to get the students more engaged with what we are learning. Our first unit this term was Trigonometry. We spent the first two weeks of the unit reviewing basic right angle trigonometry and then in an effort to bring the curriculum alive and in the “real world” we built clinometers to measure various heights of objects within the Seaquam campus.

I noticed an instant change in engagement from the start of this project. The day we made the clinometers (a straw, protractor, cardboard, fishing weights and some string) the students were alive for the first time in two weeks. Just the ability to move around, use their own hands, and create something real made a significant difference.

The next day was another beautiful Fall day so we went outside and used the clinometers…the students worked in pairs to measure our flagpole, our gym, the batting cages, and even some park stairs. The students enjoyed the change of scenery and the real life application of something they have previously learned but never truly understood its use.

Todd Clarke teachers Math and Information Communications Technology at Seaquam Secondary School.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 19, 2012 5:04 pm

    Loved your post! Your students are obviously enjoying learning just as much as you are!

  2. tedjohn3 permalink
    October 19, 2012 5:04 pm

    Well done Todd. Making math real for kids is a big leap compared to the “stand and deliver the formulas” approach. Keep up the good work and keep going outside (literally and metaphorically)

  3. Dianne Turner permalink
    October 19, 2012 5:08 pm

    Your students are very fortunate that you are providing real-life, relevant opportunities for their learning which seems to have truly engaged them. These are learning experiences that they will remember as deeply engaging them intellectually.

  4. Morgan Kyle permalink
    October 19, 2012 5:19 pm

    What a great post Todd! The excitement the students showed, and talked about speaks to the engagement they experienced. What is equally inspiring is that you, as the teacher, are truly engaged with what you are doing and that in itself inspires and engages students.
    It is truly exciting to watch you grow and continue to challenge yourself as an educator. Thank you for sharing your journey with all of us.

    • October 20, 2012 4:21 am

      Thanks for the encouraging words…the ability to share successes with others makes the tough days easier to take!

  5. Tami permalink
    October 20, 2012 8:23 pm

    So many times you hear students say “why do I need to lean this”? “When will I ever use this”? You showed them. Now that they have a use for it, it is relevant.

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